The Presentation: Your Brand’s Least Favorite Child

The Presentation: Your Brand’s Least Favorite Child

Branding. It’s tricky to pin down.

You know it’s important. Your company spent a lot of money on it, and you’re pretty sure it involves the logo. And colors, a brand has to have nice colors.

Shouldn’t it also have a catchy tagline, or a jingle?

Yes. Logos, colors and a witty tagline—those are what constitutes a memorable brand. Right?

That jingle really hit the mark.

We’re afraid not. Not entirely, anyway. Those are all useful tools in your arsenal, but a brand is more than the glossy laminate on the company. It’s your story, the practical realization of your corporate DNA, which affects every decision you make, and every aspect of the service you provide.

Branding is an attempt to convey everything about your company to folks who (a) don’t know you from Adam or Eve, (b) are beset on all sides by distractions and, most importantly, (c) you will likely never meet.

In Space, No One Really Cares About You

A good brand should be built in the same way that NASA approached constructing the Voyager deep space probe: Designed well enough to survive unknown rigors, weather unforeseeable events, and make contact with hitherto unreachable, strange and unpredictable phenomenon (new customers to you and me).

Moreover, all this must be executed flawlessly with only vague and approximate feedback returned to you, the operator. And your brand is expected to do all that with a bit of rock ‘n’ roll onboard.

Though that analogy may seem a bit tortured, the takeaway is this: Most of the time you won’t have any control over your brand.

it's just your million dollar idea riding on this

The last time you’ll have full control of what your brand means to everyone who sees it.

You won’t be able to tell people exactly what you meant to convey when you used that phrase or that packaging. You may not have the opportunity to explain why that previous customer said those things. Customer perception is the key to your success, and entrusting it to a brand is a big deal.

That’s why companies regularly spend seven figures (or more) to get their branding right.

“I’m Sorry, What Do You Do Again?”

You have one shot at a first impression, and failing to make it count is a cardinal marketing sin. So why, in the one environment where you are guaranteed an actual, real-world, get-the-handshake meeting with potential customers, do so many presenters cut corners and roll out their brand’s fourth string reserve team?

I am talking about branding’s Cinderella story, pre-ball gown. The forgotten, underfunded presentation that you’re throwing together at the last minute.

Having worked in presentation design for well over a decade, we’ve seen this counterproductive decision made time and again. Whether it’s that crucial sales pitch, a run-of-the-mill internal review, or a big corporate event, company brass decides that something less than the very best will do when designing a presentation. Even though this is their opportunity to talk directly to the people they are trying to reach.

This undermines the time, strategy and dollars you’ve put into making sure the perception of your company is exactly what it needs to be. Pinching pennies on your presentation can mean losing clients who are turned off by your mediocre, finished-at-2am deck. It’s not just the small and medium-sized enterprises either;  even the big players are guilty of this.

We’ve worked with clients who were given a blank check to make sure presentations turned out well, but who were quite happy to stand beside a subpar deck they cobbled together from the spare parts bin, known here at Chainsaw HQ as a “frankendeck.”

One of our major clients was a frequent frankendeck offender. They made fantastic slides for big crowds, but would send over decks stitched together from old, mismatched, and off-brand presentations for smaller meetings. The color schemes were all over the place, the flow non-existent. They’d saved a few dollars on the design end, but were likely to lose the audience.

Why? It’s all business. The size of the room might have been reduced, but that doesn’t mean pride in your presentation should follow suit. Your company is its brand. Treat yourself and your company with the respect you deserve all the time, not just at a few major events. You never know when someone in the audience will be the key to your next big contract.

Fortunately, our relationship with this particular client meant that we were able to advise them about presentation guidelines, and supply a toolkit and support for their teams. We’re happy to say that presentations produced since have been consistent and adhere to a strong brand, supporting the company as they move into position as a global leader.

Chainsaw’s designers are always happy to create a deck that supports your brand, part of a presentation you’d be proud to give. But there are also things that you can do on your own to make sure your deck looks the part.

First, take a look at your brand guidelines. Even if you haven’t done anything creative since high school, paying attention the colors, fonts, and language will help bring your presentation in line with the rest of your brand. If you don’t have a branding document available, take a look at a recent presentation that was well received.

Consistency counts, and cribbing from a successful deck (rather than just stealing a few unedited slides) will go a long way toward ensuring your brand is seen as cohesive.

Good Branding Is More than Skin Deep

Of course, there’s a lot more to a good, on-brand presentation than how it looks. Your company is its brand, and your brand is your story.

If you want to make sure that you are maintaining or improving your brand position, build your decks around bright spots that highlight how you’ve lived up to what your story promises. And of course, consider bringing in a professional to do it right the first time. We’re happy to help!