Branding 101

A topic of interest for me over this past month has been the importance of design, and – more specifically – concepts of color theory. Having spent almost 3 years as a design major (industrial design, focusing on product design), I have a special place in my heart for clear and functional designs, including the creative use of color (and of white space). And as a music collector with several bins of vinyl in my garage, each delicately wrapped in plastic sleeves and stored at optimal temperatures to help keep them pristine, I also appreciate the aesthetics of cover art, and the overall presentation of the brand to help convey a story and provide a visual representation of the material within (deep, I know).

Which brings me to this post: after attending the SharePoint Saturday event in Virginia Beach a couple weeks back, I was impressed by the business cards of fellow presenters Josh Carlisle and Richard Harbridge, and thought I’d share my thoughts on why their designs work so well:

The first thing that jumps out in Josh’s design is the color. Orange is a bold color no matter how it is used, and if done well – it stands out. By keeping the palette simple with an orange base, strong black stripe, and white text, it all pops. Even now as his card sits on my desk, it stands out among the other paperwork and business cards spread across my workspace. The other striking design element is the SharePoint image, which complements the orange and helps cement his association with the technology and Microsoft branding.

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Something to note: a study was done about 10 years ago around the most effective designs of business and technology book cover designs, and the results showed that simple, bold colors (2 or 3, max) with horizontal stripes were the most effective. How do I know this? When I published my first book almost 10 years ago, we did some research on cover designs and came across the analysis. (I’d site the work, but that would take some digging, and I’ll leave it to Media Matters). I don’t know that Josh and team put that much thought into their design, but they did it right, and they have my vote for best design in the SharePoint category.

Richard’s card, while not as striking in its design, still stands out because of its simplicity, and the focus on his picture. This is brilliant personal branding. When I grabbed his card, Richard and I even had a discussion around the fact that so often we lose the connection of name and face soon after an event (if not within minutes of walking away from the person), and so this design is an excellent way to reinforce that connection. While I am not a fan of the clip art compass, the overall design is clean and simple and functional – and you are more likely to remember Richard’s name (or at least his face) next time you see him. Well done.

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Oh yes – also of note is the importance of social media in modern business. Both Josh and Richard mention their blogs, LinkedIn, and Twitter – all essential tools for their evangelism roles, and increasingly to anyone looking to advance in their careers.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (, leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.