Presentation Logos: The Debate

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 9 comments

presentation-logosThe Logo Debate

Whether or not to include a logo on each slide is a hot topic of debate among presenters. On the one hand, adding a company logo creates a professional touch, and reinforces your brand. On the other, if we should remove all design that is irrelevant – why do we need a logo on each slide? Surely the audience will be able to remember who is presenting to them?

Why shouldn’t you use a logo?

The arguments against using a logo stem from visual communication basics. Anything extraneous or irrelevant on a slide that doesn’t directly add to the message can take the audience’s attention away from the content. Even design elements, such as colour and animation, can distract the audience if they are not blended in correctly.

So, if a logo isn’t integral to the message, won’t it distract from the content?

If it looks out of place on the slide, or animates in an obvious way, then yes, a logo could draw the audience’s attention away from where it should be. But this is true for any object or design element on a PowerPoint slide.

Why should you use a logo?

So if we hate all content that isn’t strictly relevant to the message, why are we suggesting that you include a logo in your presentation template?

There are two main reasons for including a logo on a slide:

Branding

Repeating a company logo reinforces the brand, however subconsciously. As anyone in advertising will tell you, this can only be a good thing. You can even go one step further and use your audience’s logo too – showing the two together to demonstrate a possible partnership, or including their logo in a visualisation to involve them in your message and predictions for the future.

Professionalism

Including a logo conveys a really professional image. Imagine if you were to send some post out to a client – you wouldn’t send it without using a company letterhead, would you? A professional image implies that the presenter, and thus the company itself, is also professional. This can have a big impact on credibility, and persuade your audience that you are worth listening to – or even worth doing business with.

How should a logo be used?

In our opinion, the benefits of including a logo outweigh any potential negatives. And in fact, logos can be successfully included without distracting from the main content. So if you’re going to include a logo, how should it be done for maximum effectiveness, and minimal distraction?

Unless it is part of a visualisation, the company logo belongs in the background of the slide, as part of the PowerPoint template. Objects in the foreground will demand attention, while the logo remains to enforce the branding.

Animation

The logo should not animate, but instead sit quietly and unobtrusively in the corner. As the rest of the slide transitions and animates, the logo remains. By the third slide, the audience will no longer notice it. This would create a professional image, without distracting the audience.

Colour

Also important is that the logo is used as a basis for the colour scheme, and that everything included on a slide fits in with the branding. Clashing colours and shapes will look unprofessional and amateurish, demeaning credibility and irritating the audience.

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Positioning

The ideal position for a logo is in the bottom right, with the title bar in the top left. The title is the most important aspect of the presentation background, and so this should be in the most prominent position. With the logo in the bottom right, the slide will then look nicely balanced. The logo can be positioned in the top left, alongside the title bar, if it is balanced by an object or text at the bottom of the slide.

Size

The logo should be big enough to be seen clearly, but not so big that it impacts the working area available on the slide. It is also important that any resizing is carried out correctly, so that the logo is not distorted.

Iconography

It is worth noting that logos can also be used in the foreground, as part of a visualisation. To see an example of a visualisation you could customise with the use of your own and your audience’s logos, have a look at our Partnership Approach slides.

The Verdict?

Of course, not all presentations include a logo. Bill Gates doesn’t include the Microsoft logo every time he speaks about malaria. For scenarios in which the company itself is not involved, or when the presentation is based on individual opinion, the logo is not necessary – and indeed, could be perceived negatively.

However, in a business setting, including a logo on your slides really adds a professional touch, and helps to instil trust and credibility. If you appear prepared and proficient, your audience will have more faith in your ability to deliver. Whether you are looking to persuade your boss to develop a new system, or aiming to sell to a prospect, your audience are more likely to trust you if you look professional.

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9 Comments to Presentation Logos: The Debate

  1. #1

    Alex MacDonald

    9:43 am, December 31st, 2010

    Your talk about positioning. “The ideal position for a logo is in the bottom right, with the title bar in the top left. The title is the most important aspect of the presentation background, and so this should be in the most prominent position. With the logo in the bottom right, the slide will then look nicely balanced.”
    The slide you show has the logo in the top left – somewhat confusing.

  2. #2

    Ed

    2:07 pm, January 1st, 2011

    I have to disagree with the notion that including a logo on every slide is the right advice to be giving people, after all this article is filed under “Presentation Best Practice”

    On twitter you replied to me by saying that “marketing demand it”. that is true, and they often demand it with such strength that I too have included logos on many slides. However, this doesn’t mean that it what should be done in an ideal world.

    I came up with a blog post on the topic myself a while ago, it posed 4 short questions for consideration.

    - Question 1. Have you ever bought a business service/product based on the prettiness of the presenter’s logo? Did the appearance of their logo even factor into your decision?

    - Question 2. Would having your logo tattooed into the corner of your forehead increase your chances of making a sale in a client meeting? Would it enhance the important points in the conversation in any way?

    - Question 3. Do you start every new sentence in your sales pitch or conversations by reintroducing yourself and your company? Would that seem like a normal way to interact with another human being?

    - Question 4. Have you ever given a presentation so long that the audience actually forgot who you are and why you were presenting to them by the time the last slide went up on screen?

    Well some of the Questions are put in a humorous tone, I believe they are important points to think about.

    Of course the marketing department to have their branding play the main roll in the presentation, but as a presentation designer it is up to you to try and convince them that the visibility of their branding can at times be distracting or just plain unimportant.

    Also, what of internal presentations? these make up a hefty chunk of presentations delivered, should you use a logo there? Do you need to remind your employees who they work for, and how lovely and fantastic the logo and colour scheme is? I suspect not.

    You don’t see a big guady logo in the corner of movies, documentaries, most tv ads, and most presentations that would be regarded as world changing (you don’t see Steve Jobs rocking the logo laden slides).
    So… surely we should take influence from those things AND the teachings of visual communications and the psychology of how we absorb info, and just fight to get rid of the logo on every slide!

  3. #3

    Joby

    3:47 pm, January 1st, 2011

    “You don’t see a big guady logo in the corner of movies, documentaries, most tv ads, and most presentations that would be regarded as world changing (you don’t see Steve Jobs rocking the logo laden slides).

    So… surely we should take influence from those things AND the teachings of visual communications and the psychology of how we absorb info, and just fight to get rid of the logo on every slide!”

    Except that nowadays most TV channels do put their logos in the corner of the screen so that it is always visible.

    I think there’s a big difference between keynotes given at events (where we tend not to use logos on templates) and slides that are destined to be used by dozens of presenters in 100s of situations…

    There are probably two questions to ask here (to follow on from your four):

    1. Does it make sense to use a template for slides (instead of designing all of them as stand-alone visuals, in the ‘billboard’/Zen style)?
    2. If it does make sense to use templates, does it make sense to put a logo on the template?

    For keynote presentations, templates might not be necessary. For slides that are going to be used in all sorts of situations that they weren’t originally intended for… templates can make sure that slides match each other.

    Then, if one goes to the trouble of using a corporate template, why not incorporate a logo, or corporate colours, or both? The argument against seems to be that it’s unnecessary, and distracting. But it doesn’t need to be distracting if included in a static way at the edge of a template. And unnecessary? Well yes – but so is colour…

    The most important thing in any presentation is most likely the arguments used, and how visuals help to convey these arguments. As you say, people don’t buy just because a logo is included… Logos/templates are secondary to the core arguments. But that isn’t an argument not to use them… Presentation design is secondary to the arguments used, yet I believe you make your living from designing slides…

    Logos on each slide can be distracting – but don’t have to be. Logos on each slide aren’t the most important thing out there – but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be included on a corporate PowerPoint template…

  4. #4

    Joby

    3:53 pm, January 1st, 2011

    - Question 1. Have you ever bought a business service/product based on the prettiness of the presenter’s logo? Did the appearance of their logo even factor into your decision?

    Alternative question: Did you ever refuse to buy from a presenter
    because they included their logo on a slide? (Or is this debate secondary to the quality of the arguments used and how well those arguments are supported by visuals?)

    - Question 2. Would having your logo tattooed into the corner of your forehead increase your chances of making a sale in a client meeting? Would it enhance the important points in the conversation in any way?

    Alternative question: You spend a fortune on branding and promoting brand awareness. How would you feel if, at the most ‘high touch’ opportunity to promote your company’s brand, your speakers just acted as if they were presenting as individuals, and not reinforcing your visual branding?

    - Question 3. Do you start every new sentence in your sales pitch or conversations by reintroducing yourself and your company? Would that seem like a normal way to interact with another human being?

    Alternative question: Is it impossible to watch MTV, or HBO, or BBC HD, or any other TV channel, because there is a subtle logo in the corner of the screen?

    - Question 4. Have you ever given a presentation so long that the audience actually forgot who you are and why you were presenting to them by the time the last slide went up on screen?

    Alternative question: Have you ever been giving a presentation when somebody (perhaps important) walked in half-way through?

  5. #5

    Ed

    5:36 pm, January 1st, 2011

    “Presentation design is secondary to the arguments used, yet I believe you make your living from designing slides…”

    Not quite sure what you mean by this, if you are saying that Presentation design is of secondary importance in a… presentation, I would have to say you are wrong. If you want to deliver a good presentation you cannot have one but not the other. Presentation design is about both structural and visual design, unless you structure your arguments in a clear way, and then find an effective way to convey these visually then you aren’t going to get the arguments across well.

    Well I can see you are fully in the logo camp, and that’s fine for you, but it seems like a step backwards when talking about presentation “BEST practice”.

  6. #6

    Dan

    7:13 pm, January 1st, 2011

    If it was a perfect world I’d say no logo on each slide would be the way to go. I’ve had many experiences where having a logo on a slide just got in my way and messed with my design. That being said, I’m not a design professional so I don’t know as much about design as I’d like to.

    Unfortunately, we don’t live in that perfect world and most of my presentations are for my employer which means I need to use their templates. This includesna logo on each slide. For these settings, the best I can come up with is using the logo on the first and last slides and ensuring that you use ‘corporate design standards’ like colours on the rest of the slides.

    This way you still get your logo seen when it is most important (primacy and recency effect) and your slides still have your corporate look and feel in the middle.

  7. #7

    Ed

    1:19 am, January 2nd, 2011

    Yep Dan, you’re right there, we don’t live in an ideal world, and I too have to use clients logos a bit more than I would like. I explain the pros and cons, and if they still want it, well, they are they paying client.

    I have no issue with a logo at that start and end of a presentation, and sometimes it can be appropriate to have it in “divider” slides.

  8. #8

    Shane Barber

    10:23 am, January 4th, 2011

    I like the ‘alternative’ questions, which provide a balance for the ‘no logo’ bias.

    Even more likely than the important person walking in late is the request for a copy of the slide presntation in printed form, when there’s no identifier of the presentation owner other than what is on the slides.

    I regularly make presentations in pitches alongside the competition, when there are a multitude of ideas from others and your offering has to be immediately identifiable as yours when it’s laying on a client’s desk.

  9. #9

    Joby

    10:53 am, January 4th, 2011

    @Ed – I was just suggesting that the message is more important than the look/feel in any presentation. Of course both are important – but if you are saying the wrong thing, no amount of great visual design will help. If you have strong arguments but rubbish visuals, it’s possible to succeed (however much bad slides undermine the presenter).

    @Dan – Yes, good compromise, if the colour scheme and layout can reinforce branding without a logo, why not? I guess it works best for companies that are somewhat well-known already.

    @Shane – Good point. Although in an ideal world you probably wouldn’t use print-outs, but instead record an on-demand version version of your presentation for later distribution.