SharePoint 2013 Branding Series – Low Effort Branding


In the previous post we took a look at setting the foundations of Branding SharePoint 2013 by using Mockups to present to the client and give them an idea of where the main structural elements of the page will sit.

So what next? How do we take the mockups and make them a reality in SharePoint.

Low Effort Branding

This is genuinely the effort some companies go to, so whilst you might be underwhelmed when you get to the bottom of this post. Bare with us, its just the beginning and we have to cover it.


So in the image above we have a standard Publishing Site Template in SharePoint and we will walk through the steps you go to, to Brand this in a Low Effort sense.


Site Actions (SharePoint Cog) Site Settings will take you to the stand SharePoint Settings page, where you will see “Title, description and logo” underneath Look and Feel as below.


This gives you the option to change the logo. Those of you that are hardcore SharePoint 2010 users will notice that the major change at this point is the fact that you can browse for an image as opposed to inputting the URL.


We have an image which is of course our logo and we can go ahead and add this to the site.


Once we have added it to the site, we are done as far as this Low Effort Branding is concerned.

The site looks like this,



That’s not all though, remember Themes? Well say hello to…

Composed Looks

If you remember the hype when SharePoint 2010 came out you will remember that there was quite a bit of hype around themes and the ability to be able to create these in PowerPoint. However, the reality was that these themes were not overly used and in most cases they generally made a nice looking SharePoint environment look like a bit of a mess.

With the above in mind, I wasn’t very surprised with the hype that surrounded SharePoint Composed Looks as anything to do with branding tends to get a little hype around it.

What are Composed Looks?

Composed looks are what respected branders, John Ross and Randy Drisgill, describe as medium effort branding. Similar to themes in the way they change the look of a SharePoint site, they can be applied on a site by site basis and dissimilar to themes, they actually rock!

What does a Composed Look actually look like?


Some of you might be thinking, hold on a minute Matthew, that right there is the standard SharePoint 2013 out of the box look and feel, however, this is the standard look and feel but you will see in a moment that it is actually the Office Composed Look, it makes sense too if you have used since the change.

How do you change the Composed Look?

SharePoint 2013 invites you to change the look and feel of your sites and it isn’t exactly discrete about it either, first there’s the icon on the homepage,


Then there’s the link in the Site Actions menu accessible by clicking the Site Actions Cog.


If that isn’t enough you can find the option in Site Actions > Site Settings > Look and Feel


OK great, so now we know how to get to it, what happens when we go to Composed Looks.


We get to the Change the look screen. Select any of the Composed Looks and you will see the options you get, in this example I will choose the Immerse Composed Look and take a look at the options,


This screen shows you the length of the options within Composed Looks and at first glance you might think it is just like Themes with nothing overly exciting to see. However, if that is how you feel then you have missed two super cool features.

1. The first feature is something that the boys over at Nothing But Branding have managed to accomplish in SharePoint 2010 and that is, changing the background of your site in a quick and easy way. Remove the background and you will get a nice solid colour.

2. The second amazing part of this feature is the Site Layout option.

As you can see in the screenshots of the various Composed Looks there are two different type of layouts and this is great news as you can (on a site by site basis) choose whether you would like to see the Quick Launch, notice how the header is slightly different as well because of the addition of the quick launch and the Global Navigation being moved.

One thing I didn’t mention in my excitement to show you the different types of layout, is the preview mode which is activated when you click on the Try it out button on the Composed looks settings screen.

This essential gives you a preview before it is applied for good, good if you decide that the colours are not quite right.


Interesting that a lot of these features work great at 1280 x 1024 but not at the traditional 1024 x 768, as you can see below.


Finally, there are some other options that you can modify such as the colours and the font (similar to the way themes worked in SharePoint 2010) but other than that, it pretty much wraps up Composed Looks and the wraps up the post on Low Effort Branding.

In the next post we will take a look at the Design Manager


Matthew Hughes
The Kinetal IT Team

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