Enforcing brand style guides through Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel

There was a joke when I was in University about the way Civil Engineers work: “measure with micrometer, mark with chalk, cut with axe”.  There we were learning ridiculous amounts of math to work out the right way to do something and at the end of the day their designs would be executed by labourers on site using tools like spades and wheelbarrows.

This is pretty similar to the frustration we have as designers and branding consultants working out the right way to convey a Brand Identity when, at the end of the day, much of a company’s day-to-day communications and outputs will be executed with a blunt instrument from the Microsoft Office suite.


Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint are not graphic design tools. Nor are they as obsessed with beautiful typography as we are. But thankfully they can be manipulated and beaten into submission.

I had a lovely conversation in a meeting this morning about creating a toolkit for Microsoft Office that can be installed for each user. I think this is the type of thing we need to consider more of: idiot-proof tools that maintain the consistency and important elements of the Brand Identity at a “grass roots” day-to-day level.


P.S.: the users are not actually idiots; they just don’t care about the difference between Arial and Helvetica. Or grids. Or colours…


P.P.S.: A micrometer…