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MICROSOFT 365: SHAREPOINT BRANDING CENTER REVIEW

About the author: Jonathan Stuckey


As part of the array of new(ish) features to be released this May/June, Microsoft has seen fit to return to centralised SharePoint branding management services which can be applied and managed within the SharePoint tenancy. Included in the Microsoft 365 admin centre is the release of the Brand Center (preview). This restores the ability to apply an organization's own fonts to sites in SharePoint and Microsoft Teams, in addition to configuring the pre-existing corporate asset management.


SharePoint Brand Center (Preview)

What is it?

It is a targeted SharePoint page | app which offers a centralised branding management that lets your brand managers or delegated owners upload approved brand assets, to customise the look and feel of their experiences in SharePoint and Microsoft Teams. The brand asset management system (if you can call it that) will handle your brand approved corporate fonts, key images and other assets all in one place.

screenshot of the Preview Brand Center app
Lock-down Brand Center app homepage in SharePoint

The key features of the SharePoint Brand Center Preview are:


  1. Custom Fonts Support: It allows the use of custom fonts in SharePoint and Viva Connections;

  2. Font Packages: create font package(s) to apply your uploaded fonts to locations in SharePoint,

  3. Deployment to SharePoint and Microsoft Teams: font packages can be applied to SharePoint sites and Microsoft Teams templates.


The page|app is deployed to site which is either already setup as Organisation Asset CDN or would become one if you don't have this already. The idea being that it will build-on the Image Asset management and publishing which has been available since 2019.


NOTE: There is still no brand colour-palette / theming management available beyond single primary-colour with an accent-colour.


How does it work?

The deployed Brand Center "App" (read: custom SharePoint page which is locked down to prevent fiddling) is deployed to system folder on your site which is setup for the organisation assets library (or Office template library).


If you haven't setup and Organisation Asset Library in your SharePoint tenancy. The configuration wizard will run the (1-line of) PowerShell required to this up and create an internal CDN for globally available assets.


This "new solution" piggybacks off a tenancy setup configuration which has been available since 2018/2019. The organisations brand assets are uploaded to hidden system folder locations on the site, in the /_layouts/15 and /Fonts libraries.


What does it bring to Intranet Publishing?

The preview release returns crippled functionality for uploading Font-packs (standard formats only e.g. TTF, WOFF, OTF), along with enabling access to and distribution of the new core-set of Microsoft standard fonts e.g. Aptos, Amasis, Segoe, Sitka, Verdana and Walk, and builds on the already available Organisation Asset Library for Image management support.


...that's it.


Pros and Cons

The Branding Center is positioned to provide a more consistent, and centrally managed experience for applying corporate brand to your (Microsoft 365) SharePoint and Microsoft Teams centric intranet.


Pros:

Some of the obvious benefits are:


  1. restores support for managed Fonts, a key component of many organisations Brand;

  2. delegated ownership and management of key assets (Fonts) to business-roles, without need of IT intervention or developer to deploy;

  3. builds on the existing investment into organisation asset management support Microsoft has been drip-feeding back for the last 5+ years,

  4. gives business access to new Microsoft WOFF Fonts, like Aptos, for use across publishing pages within the intranet.


Cons:

However, there are some potential drawbacks to consider:


  1. the Preview only supports a basic addition of Font assets to Brand management in the environment

  2. the range of supported Font-type formats is limited today

  3. there is no additional support for key brand items like enhanced colour palettes, or targeted application


NOTE: Touted is the return of "Brand packaging" which we hope it will provide a step-up for theme colours, but as it's not even rumoured to be in early-access or roadmap we are not holding our breath.


Fit for Purpose?

Yes - if all you need is the addition support for web-standard Fonts to your intranet, or better yet take advantage of Microsoft's investment in Aptos etc. But don't expect actual "Brand management" yet, because SharePoint Modern is not designed as a proper Content Management Solution in the way you would employ one for your web-site branding.


Considerations

Brand and culture are a lot more involved that Microsoft makes out with SharePoint and Microsoft 365, but if you go into reviewing what Microsoft's latest offering with "Brand Center" add-on with open eyes and understanding that SharePoint is the workhorse for your organisation, not the shop-front, you will be able to get some value from it.


Verdict

The Branding Center approach is useful if you are an experienced SharePoint administrator or Solution designer. It is a much-needed return of Font management - albeit basic - plus a centalised mechanism for distributing the branding assets used to SharePoint sites and Microsoft Teams templates.


It is still very limited, so don't expect too much from it, but do make use of the options to leverage the new Microsoft standard fonts (Aptos etc).


Roll-on 2025, when we expect to see return of functionality we had in 2013.


If you have questions and want to understand more about if or how Microsoft's services might fit into your Intranet and Employee Experiences - give us a call: hi@timewespoke.com

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About the author: Jonathan Stuckey

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