Gridlocked Vision

Beyond bullets, one of the most persistent problems in PowerPoint is the practice of religiously placing a corporate logo on every single slide. Design and branding experts dismiss this belief as heresy for a number of reasons, including the revelation that there’s more to branding than stamping a company’s icon on every available surface.

Clearly, putting your logo on every slide increases the risk that you will communicate the wrong message, and presents an unnecessary obstacle in the way of your corporate goals. If you say your presentation should be all about your audience, your logo on your PowerPoint template shows the opposite, because there you are on every single slide.

But from a purely design point of view, placing a logo on your template Slide Master locks you into a specific worldview that shrinks your visual possibilities.

Every good design begins with an invisible grid structure that a designer uses to ensure proper proportions, white space, and composition. When you place a logo at the lower right corner of your slide, as in the example here, you make a decision that sets the outer boundaries of your grid, as defined by the blue lines.grid_inner Even if you don’t know about design grids, you would likely be reluctant to put anything beyond this outer boundary because grids are based on our cultural expectations of how we naturally prefer to see things. This is a major reason why you rarely see a full-screen image on a PowerPoint slide — we don’t ever think it’s an option because our visual thinking is locked into a grid that’s smaller than the full screen potential.

As the example above illustrates, the seemingly harmless act of placing your logo on your PowerPoint template can do great harm to your communications strategy, because you present yourself and your audience with a dramatically reduced set of options. A shrinking screen presents shrinking visual possibilities, and shrinking communication solutions. Why constrain yourself to gridlocked vision?


Tip: We don’t have to see things so narrowly. Remove your logo from your Slide Master template, and expand your thinking about the screen area all the way to the outer boundaries of the slide. Completely fill the screen with an image all the way to the edges, if that’s the best choice to help you meet your goals. It’s only when we take the risk of going to the edge that we can see beyond the grid, and into a clearer field of vision.

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One Response to “Gridlocked Vision”

  1. Subverting the folks in marketing

    If you haven’t already started reading Beyond Bullets , you should.

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