Creating user-centered presentation templates for NI’s bold new brand

When National Instruments rebranded to NI in the Summer of 2020, the company focused on creating a brand that better reflected what the company is today. 40+ years after its founding, the turn toward a new logo, colors, and fonts, as well as the tagline, “Engineer Ambitiously,” represents NI as a business that continues to operate on the cutting edge of technological innovation.

Of course, launching a new brand is always easier said than done. It’s not simply about changing the logo, colors, and fonts on a company’s website. Rebranding fundamentally reshapes communications across sales and marketing, requiring a top-to-bottom redesign of company assets from letterheads to presentations. And that’s where we step in.

When NI made the leap from their previous to newly branded corporate presentation template, it was difficult and time-intensive to use effectively. With presentation templates, it is often the smallest details that slow down users from creating presentations smoothly. Whether it’s due to a migration, font, color, layout, or graphic element issues, many of us have spent an unreasonable amount of time formatting PowerPoint presentations. 

So we rolled up our sleeves to create a corporate presentation template that helps teams create beautiful presentations, faster.




The challenge: One template for a global team of 10,000

With ~10,000 employees spanning the entire globe, we knew that creating one solution to meet all of NI’s needs was going to be a real challenge. How do we create a single presentation template that serves the needs of global teams and thousands of users? How can we create a template that is both flexible and functional? 

To chart our course through these questions, we took a human-centered design approach. That means, we gathered feedback directly from the teams that use the presentation template the most – sales, marketing, creative – to understand the underlying reasons why NI’s existing presentation templates weren’t working.


Gathering user feedback and insights

Over the course of 3 weeks, we conducted 10 one-hour workshops and listening sessions with over 50 NI team members. These sessions allowed us to learn about and concretely define the struggles with the existing template. Though there was some variance in specific pain points of different departments, they all shared many common struggles. We identified five primary areas of improvement:



The biggest issues emerged when migrating slides from the former template to the new. Users found that the rebranded template had many formatting issues (in color, typography etc.) and lacked equivalent layouts from the old template. What should be a simple copy and paste job became a headache-inducing, time-consuming affair for many people.



Users struggled with the ways in which the template handles color. From the defaults on graphics to a need for a wider range of options, color came up again and again in our workshops. 




Premade layouts is one way to streamline and expedite the presentation creation process, so it’s not a surprise that there were many layout requests; including adjusting spacing, positioning, and designing more varied layout options.



Many people expressed a need for more guidance in using the template and would benefit from best practice resources, including more instructive style guides and slide examples.


Graphic Elements

Elements such as diagrams, tables, charts, and smart art posed challenges with consistency, style, and functionality.

These five core insights defined our roadmap for creating a more robust and functional presentation template for NI.



Creating the ideal template

To ensure that the new template is as functional and easy to use as possible, our process entailed two steps. 


Step One: Testing & Diagnostic

We started by testing the new template against the former template to diagnose where common issues originate. At this step, a lot of our testing validated the information we collected from our workshops – migrating, colors, and graphic elements were difficult to customize. Through this process, we were able to make necessary corrections to the new presentation template and offer better tips on how to migrate and customize the presentation more smoothly. 

What we delivered:

  • Master Slide Corrections 
  • Guidance on Minimizing Migration Disruption

NI presentation template


Step Two: Design 

Next, we got down into the weeds and redesigned the elements that needed it. We also built out layouts to accommodate requests from our listening sessions. 

What we delivered: 

  • Redesigned Graphic Elements
  • Layout Development
  • 2 Template Versions

NI presentation charts and infographics



Little things make a big difference

When we finished this project, we delivered a 114-slide presentation template that covered the entire scope of needs from our listening sessions. Primarily, the updated presentation template included these major changes: 

  • We reordered the color default settings so when dragged from the client’s old template, tables and graphic elements wouldn’t go haywire with colors (often switching bright neons).
  • We changed some settings on the backend to strip out layout variants, so PowerPoint’s “Design Ideas” panel would actually suggest layouts that were consistent and on-brand. Previously, some teams were utilizing the Design Ideas feature in PowerPoint to create layouts that didn’t always reflect the brand well.
  • We added interior slide margins to the Master Slides so that when new content is added to the slides, the alignment will automatically default to the correct spacing. Previously, all the spacing requirements were done manually. 
  • We built some custom tables and graphs that NI teams could use and duplicate, rather than having to start from scratch each time.

Ultimately, these adjustments make a big difference, allowing teams at NI to create better presentations, faster. We work with companies, large and midsized, to streamline their presentation templates so that time and energy can be poured into what matters most: the content. 



To learn more about the benefits of optimized presentation templates, reach out to us here