May 21, 2024

It’s Time to Talk About Templates

Let’s talk about templates. Design templates to be specific.

In today’s digital era, there is a proliferation of sites that help you create everything from slides to brochures, logos, and documents all with the click (or two) of a button. These mass market sites hold the promise of efficiency and professional aesthetics at a fraction of the cost of professional design.

What could possibly be wrong with saving time and money for a quick design project?

As it turns out, plenty. From damage to your firm reputation and creating confusion around your brand identity to sacrificing originality or failing to stand out in a crowded market, there are many pitfalls to design by template.

The pre-designed layouts offered by these tools are typically developed by professional graphic artists. They are eye-catching on screen and seem like the perfect shortcut and budget saver for a quick project. And many of them are good, if you don’t change anything.

Simple changes such as a headline with fewer characters, swapping out a color, adding more text or a photo with a different orientation mean that your document has lost its finely tuned professional look. Can your firm afford to have less than professional looking materials in front of clients? Well-designed communications keep clients and prospects focused on the content and message. Even minor design flaws distract and make the content harder to consume.

Design templates can also result in cookie-cutter solutions that fail to capture the essence of your firm’s brand identity. While they offer a variety of colors, fonts and layouts, they are ultimately constrained by pre-defined parameters. The exact shade of green in your color palette or the unique font associated with your brand matter. Building brand awareness and creating a feeling of trust and dependability requires consistency in how your brand appears.

If creativity or standing out in a crowd is your goal, then templates are enemy number one. The minimal customization and repetitive nature of templates (when the same idea is delivered in multiple iterations), lends itself to a feeling of sameness. It also increases the potential of duplication by competitors. How would you feel if your competitor used the same template for a pitchbook? Would your document land the same way with a client if their child’s school had recently used it?

Our take is that mass market templates have no place in asset management collateral. Leave the templates to resumes and community bake sales. Instead, work with your creative team or agency to develop materials that are unique to your firm, designed appropriately for the content and reflect your unique brand and identity.

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