Product, Thought Leadership

A template is not just a template – ensuring your brand can evolve over time

A template is not just a template

A “template” can cover a lot of area and be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. It can be a simple “change the name and address” ad all the way to using advanced layout engines to make multi-page documents of various sizes and pull information and images from integrated databases.

Pay now or pay later

Everything is a compromise and has trade-offs. Simple templates can be made in minutes by a designer, but more complex, bespoke templates can require over one hundred hours for a developer to create in order to implement all the logic. So when does spending 100x more time on a bespoke template make sense?

A simple template can produce simple outputs — there can be variation in content, but little more. A complex, bespoke template can handle many variations in centrally controlled messaging, languages, colours themes, brands, layout logic and sizes. Using the formula of (conservatively) five of each possible variation, a complex, bespoke template can output 5^5 variants (i.e. 3125 variants)! Even just a handful of colour variations combined with sizes can output 20-30 variations, making the numbers of hours to implement quite valuable.

By investing in and utilising complex, bespoke templates, you have the ability to update the templates as your brand evolves over time, ensuring that all of your present and future templates are consistently up to date. This feature provides an added level of simplicity and a return on investment, making it easier to maintain brand consistency and coherence across all of your materials, while giving you time back on creating simple templates for every possible variation.

Production time is also time spent

It’s the total cost that counts, and while you may be saving on template creation, that helps little if those savings result in more time required by end users (who are potentially not designers) to actually create collateral. Many simple templates can do the same job as a more flexible bespoke one, but what are the trade-off?

Imagine you create a few social media (SoMe) posts for Facebook and LinkedIn. Using simple templates for either, you can quite easily copy and paste the text, choose the same image, and crop the image to fit the size requirements defined by Facebook and LinkedIn. The post will be done in less than ten minutes, but will require the knowledge of how Facebook and LinkedIn limit posts (in terms of size, length of text, etc.). If you compare that process to a flexible, bespoke template where you can select new size (already set-up with the size requirements of the SoMe platform), verify that the text still fits, and “save as new”. This process was done in less than a minute.

While each individual task does not save that much time, everything counts in large amounts. With an organisation that produces hundreds of SoMe posts per week across all locations, the savings become significant. Not only are you getting a significant return on investment, you’ll have happier, more efficient employees who will have spent less time on cumbersome processes and more time on more important work.

Papirfly goes above and beyond by offering an additional time-saving feature: continuously and proactively monitoring sizes of various social media channels. With this approach, you can rest assured that all of your social media templates are consistently up to date, ensuring that your brand is always represented accurately and consistently across all channels.

Create templates without InDesign

Everyone starts their exploration of templating systems somewhere, and it’s natural to assume that creating templates from InDesign or similar design tools is the best way to go. In some cases that would be correct – e.g. if your need is to produce a vast quantity of very different templates that need only a few edit options, and you have designers that know your brand well.

Another appropriate use case for a design tool like InDesign may be that you need to provide end users with many SoMe and/or print templates, where the content — text and imagery — varies. In this case, using one bespoke template to create all needed variants could be the quickest way to reach the goal. Creating content variants with Papirfly’s Create & Activate product (and the amazing products we can wrap around it) is literally as easy as editing a document, where an administrator (non-designer) can easily create a content variant in minutes. The best part is that the end user gets the same quality, bespoke user experience (UX) in each and every one of these templates.

If you require more control over how these templates are used (e.g. locking the background image or heading), we provide solutions for this as well. Template creators can have additional granular controls that let them lock elements down, to the extent that even which parts of the element are editable. An image element can, for instance, be set to fill its frame and the end user can only select images from a specific set of predefined backgrounds. When the template creator has approved the final version of the template, the template is immediately available for the end user.

So what about InDesign?

An InDesign document is a static design, but allowing for different amounts of text and various images requires careful thought and design, as design for dynamic content is important, but easily overlooked.

InDesign to template offers a very quick way to distribute templates throughout an organisation, but the use cases are narrow. The lack of flexibility in designing for content makes it mostly appropriate for stamping logos or addresses on locked designs.

Bespoke templates can be so much more than InDesign-based templates. It may seem like a template is a template, but the value of flexibility and easy-to-use bespoke templates offers should not be underestimated.

  • Enormous amounts of combinations of sizes, layouts, colours and brands.
  • Keep content intact when changing the above allows for quickly and efficiently pushing out variants for wider use
  • Keep content aligned when your brand is updated, as bespoke templates be changed in terms of logo, font, colours, etc. (e.g. when opening a document saved with an older version, the document is updated to the latest version of brand)

Additionally, bespoke templates can have bespoke integrations with external data sources and use them intelligently. Whereas Chili templates can only simply replace text and images, bespoke product elements can react to the content, which allows for a larger range of settings and change in size and proportions while staying effortlessly on brand.

An InDesign file can become a template in minutes, but it is restricted and not a truly usable template. To implement a template that requires a text size change that moves elements and shifts the content around of the template around, the customer either needs trained staff (~2% of our customers) or consultant to do the implementation — exactly the same as with a bespoke template. With bespoke development, all templates are packed into a single application that shares fonts, text styles, colours, etc. This means that the second template will be drastically faster to implement than then first.

Templates that empower

Design templates are more than just InDesign files; they are powerful assets that drive creative excellence, operational efficiency, and brand consistency. They provide a roadmap for crafting visually stunning marketing materials, from landing pages to social media graphics, and empower companies to deliver compelling visuals that captivate audiences. Design templates save time and effort, enabling rapid content creation and iteration, and facilitating seamless collaboration among teams. They also serve as a critical component of brand management, ensuring consistency in visual identity and messaging across various marketing channels. As companies strive to stay ahead in a competitive landscape, design templates are indispensable tools that foster creativity, streamline workflows, and elevate marketing efforts to achieve remarkable results.

Want to learn more about how Papirfly’s templating technology can save you time, ensure consistency in your marketing, and make your team more efficient? Book a demo today!