Want your SharePoint intranet to look and feel like a modern website?
We get it. In a world where consumers have high expectations for engaging and beautiful digital experiences, employees expect the same from your internal digital tools too.
In fact, one in six Gen Z and Millennial employees have quit because their employer did not provide the proper technology for them to do their job, according to Zapier’s digital natives report.
While it’s a given that branding and user experience are both critical components of a successful website, intranets have typically lagged behind, often seen as mere tools – functional but uninspiring.
Yet if your website is your digital handshake, where every click, colour and content placement can turn visitors into customers, or drive them away, the same can be said for your intranet.
An intranet that boasts the core principles of user experience (UX)—beautiful branding, intuitive navigation, engaging content and a responsive accessible design—can transform how employees interact with and feel about the organisation they work for.
Why branding your SharePoint intranet matters
A well-branded SharePoint intranet is more than just making it visually appealing; it’s about creating a user-friendly environment that reflects key aspects of the corporate identity, thereby increasing the employees’ sense of belonging.
An aesthetically branded SharePoint intranet not only builds trust and credibility with your audience but also increases engagement too. Because when your intranet looks familiar and feels intuitive, like a modern website, employees are more likely to use it, and regularly.
Plus, when your intranet aligns with your external brand, it can help to reinforce trust and loyalty among employees. With clear navigation, consistent branding and user-friendly layouts, an intranet can play an integral part in the employee experience.
Branding can also play a huge part in increasing accessibility for all users. It can support specific accessibility requirements mandated by law, for example WCAG 2.1 AA, ensuring that everyone, including those with disabilities, can interact with your content.
Sense of belonging
Branding can help your employees feel more connected to your company, mission and purpose, fostering a sense of belonging and loyalty.
Consistent branding across your SharePoint intranet not only strengthens your organisation’s identity it helps to embed your company’s culture, values and ethos into the daily work environment too.
Credible source of truth
A professionally branded intranet can lend credibility to the content shared on it. Your employees are more likely to trust and rely on information from a source that looks polished and official, which is essential if you want to use it as an internal communications tool.
Done well, a branded intranet can become a virtual community hub where employees share ideas, celebrate achievements and collaborate.
This sense of community is crucial in today’s workplace where according to Gartner 48 percent of employees are working remotely, hybrid or in geographically dispersed teams, so they can feel connected to the company and each other.
So, how can you brand your SharePoint intranet?
Microsoft has announced it will introduce a new Brand Center in the early part of this year. Once launched, you will be able to centrally manage all of your branding to improve consistency across all of your sites and pages.
However, you don’t have to wait for the Brand Center in order to brand your SharePoint site. With native SharePoint, you can apply a theme colour to your sites, as well as define a header, navigation and footer. A word of warning, it’s difficult to ensure a consistent navigation and theme colour across your sites if you don’t leverage the hub sites.
Brand Center in SharePoint
The Brand Center in SharePoint will allow you to specify fonts, colours, logos and other design elements to reflect the identity of your organisation, products, subsidiaries, and more.
Reuse branding elements across your sites confidently as SharePoint provides guardrails that align with your branding guidelines.
Find great content such as images, video, documents, webparts and sections – to help you make your pages bold and engaging.
Easily browse and add content from across your SharePoint sites with suggestions which, using Copilot (if you have the license), will automatically recommend relevant content based on what you’re working on. The content pane can suggest layouts to help make your content look great too.
The image editor gives you advanced editing capabilities such as shape cropping, colour adjusting, adding filters and overlaying text.
An updated Stream web part means you can stream all types of videos inside your pages by supporting single and multiple videos with folders and playlists.
Use the Video Page templates to create Video Pages not only from SharePoint but also from Stream. For example, right from the video player in Stream, you can create a Video Page to highlight the recording, content and your summary of a meeting all on one sharable and branded page.
How Fresh can make your brand come alive
Fresh Intranet, built on SharePoint in Microsoft 365, can take your branding efforts a step further than native SharePoint. Let’s take a look how…
Accessibility plays an important role in branding because it ensures that the intranet isn’t just appealing but is accessible to everyone. We’re passionate about accessibility and have put a lot of effort into keeping our Fresh product WCAG 2.1 AA compliant.
As part of the Fresh product development process, all new features go through testing using the Windows Narrator screen reader tool. The Narrator can be turned on to help identify accessibility issues for visually impaired users of the product. Plus, we check for aspects such as “keyboard accessibility” and “distinguishability” such as use of colour and text spacing.
Consistent use of logos across your intranet will reinforce your brand. Easily upload your company logo into Fresh to be used in your global navigation.
Select your primary, secondary and tertiary colours that match your brand identity. With Fresh you also have the possibility to choose between using solid colour or gradients in the main navigation bar and alerts. It’s also easy to incorporate gradients into some of your imagery as well.
A site theme, which controls colours, can really help to show off your brand’s personality. Choose from a predefined site theme from SharePoint or use a theme you have uploaded via Fresh.
Fresh also extends SharePoint themes by offering you a choice of additional colours to work with, which can be used for individual tools, buttons, or alerts/announcements.
The global navigation is a central element in your intranet as it follows the user across the entire intranet experience. Intranet owners can configure the global navigation settings at a central level.
Fresh’s global navigation supports solid colours and gradients. The global navigation also supports three different menu types: megamenu, cascading and horizontal.
Web Parts and Widgets
Add web parts to enhance functionality in your SharePoint intranet. Use widgets like news feeds, calendars and document libraries.
Use Fresh to customise web part styles to match your brand, for example, by using rounded or square corners. Use a web part container that adds a background layer with a border and/or shadows to make the content pop off the page.
Elevate the web part container on hover – this controls the elevation effect when the user moves the cursor over a web part, increasing the shadow of the web part container.
Intranet owners can enforce these branding options for web parts at a central/global level to bring a consistence user experience across the entire intranet.
Create page templates that align with your brand guidelines. Use placeholders for dynamic content like news, announcements and events.
SharePoint supports page templates that you can use to speed up content creation. These pages inherit the branding elements provided by Fresh that are available on the site, like the theme (colours), global navigation and footer, ensuring a consistent experience across the entire intranet. Content editors can also use Fresh web parts to structure and tailor the content on the page.
Customise footer settings at a central level in Fresh and populate it with relevant information; for example, contact details, copyright notices and links to essential resources.
Want to give your SharePoint intranet a modern look and feel? Our team of experts are here to help. Get in touch today.