SharePoint Online Branding

site branding

Branding is a very important topic to consider when building your digital working ecosystem. In this article we will cover the main aspects of SharePoint Online sites branding.

Here is a table of the topics covered :

Name, Logo and description
Navigation and Header

Let’s start with the obvious ones. When you create a site in SharePoint online, you will be prompted to give it a Name and a description. You can change those elements whenever you want, but keep in mind that changing the site title will not change the Url. Changing sites Url is quite challenging, this has been announced at SharePoint Conference 2019 and will be available soon. The description is also quite important for discoverability purpose. When browsing in the Office 365 environment, users will see this description under your site name.
You can also put a logo on top for your site, this logo will be displayed on the top of your site and when content from the site is displayed elsewhere in the Office 365 ecosystem. Note that you can put a transparent background logo, and you will be able to upload non square logo as well.
You can configure those elements when you create a site and afterward under “Site information” :

To see what our site look like elsewhere in the Office 365 ecosystem, here is a search results example:

Now that you gave you site a name, description and logo let’s have a look at some more visual configurations.


SharePoint Online comes with a set a built-in themes that you can customize under the “change de look” panel in the site configuration gear and theme

Built-in Themes

change the look

Once you click on theme, you will see a bunch of built-in themes that you can use and customize. Here is a link to the documentation around theme from Microsoft. You can start from those themes and customize the main color and accent color.

Customize theme

Note that you can also set a background color for the layout elements in you pages. The background color available comes from your theme, from white to your accent color. This option can be found in the edit parameters of a layout element when you edit a page :

Edit section background

The built-in themes are a good starting point, but you might want to manage themes inside your organization. For that purpose, you can then create your own custom theme.

Custom theme

When you create a custom theme, site owners will be able to apply this theme to any SharePoint Online site. Your theme will be shown on the top of the available themes in the organization theme section.
A SharePoint Online theme is based on a Json object, here is an example :

    name: 'Blue', 
    isInverted: true, 
    backgroundImageUri: '', 
    theme: { 
        themePrimary: "#00bcf2", 
        themeLighterAlt: "#00090c", 
        themeLighter: "#001318", 
        themeLight: "#002630", 
        themeTertiary: "#005066", 
        themeSecondary: "#00abda", 
        themeDarkAlt: "#0ecbff", 
        themeDark: "#44d6ff", 
        themeDarker: "#6cdfff", 
        neutralLighterAlt: "#2e3340", 
        neutralLighter: "#353a49", 
        neutralLight: "#404759", 
        neutralQuaternaryAlt: "#474e62", 
        neutralQuaternary: "#4c546a", 
        neutralTertiaryAlt: "#646e8a", 
        neutralTertiary: "#c8c8c8", 
        neutralSecondaryAlt: "#d0d0d0", 
        neutralSecondary: "#dadada", 
        neutralPrimaryAlt: "#eaeaea", 
        neutralPrimary: "#ffffff", 
        neutralDark: "#f4f4f4", 
        black: "#f8f8f8", 
        white: "#262a35", 
        primaryBackground: "#262a35", 
        primaryText: "#ffffff", 
        bodyBackground: "#ffffff";
        bodyText: "#333333";
        disabledBackground: "#f4f4f4";
        disabledText: "#c8c8c8";
        error: "#ff5f5f";
        accent: "#ffb900";

If you need more information, here is a link to the theme schema from Microsoft docs.
On the top of this Json object, you find some metadata for the theme. Then in the theme node, you will have to come up with colors to fill on every keys.

To help you setting up your SharePoint Online theme, you can use the theme generator tool.
Under the theme designer section, you will be able to provide three colors : Primary, Text and Background and then extract the theme object as Json or PowerShell. When you change the colors, the tool will show you different aspects of a SharePoint Online site with your updated colors. If you want to play with the colors, I recommend this article which is very detailed about the use of each colors.

To deploy our custom theme, we will first export the theme by selecting Export then PowerShell and copy the provided code.

Export SPO theme

We will use PowerShell with the Microsoft.Online.SharePoint.PowerShell module to deploy our custom theme

#Connecting SharePoint Online
Connect-SPOService -url
#Storing the Exported theme in a variable
$MyTheme = @{
"themePrimary" = "#000000";
"themeLighterAlt" = "#898989";
"themeLighter" = "#737373";
"themeLight" = "#595959";
"themeTertiary" = "#373737";
"themeSecondary" = "#2f2f2f";
"themeDarkAlt" = "#252525";
"themeDark" = "#151515";
"themeDarker" = "#0b0b0b";
"neutralLighterAlt" = "#f8f8f8";
"neutralLighter" = "#f4f4f4";
"neutralLight" = "#eaeaea";
"neutralQuaternaryAlt" = "#dadada";
"neutralQuaternary" = "#d0d0d0";
"neutralTertiaryAlt" = "#c8c8c8";
"neutralTertiary" = "#ffd9b3";
"neutralSecondary" = "#ffb366";
"neutralPrimaryAlt" = "#ff8f1f";
"neutralPrimary" = "#ff8000";
"neutralDark" = "#c26100";
"black" = "#8f4700";
"white" = "#ffffff";
#Then we publish the theme in SharePoint online
Add-SPOTheme -Identity "Company theme" -Palette $MyTheme -IsInverted $false

Now site owners will be able to apply this theme for their sites.

Company theme selection

After playing with themes, you might want to set up the Navigation and Header for your site. Let’s see what the options are there.

Regarding the navigation, when you create a site it comes with a built-in navigation showing your site content. You can modify this navigation by clicking on the edit button :

Edit navigation

In the navigation menu, you will be able to set Headers to regroup sub links, links and sub links. The UI is convenient, you can play easily with it.

Editing site navigation

You can also configure the way navigation will display under the site property gear, change the look. By going in “change the look” then navigation, you can choose between Cascade or Mega Menu.
Here are picture of the two options :

Mega menu navigation
Mega Menu navigation

Cascade navigation
Cascade navigation

In another hand, the Header menu provide you with two options: compact and standard two liner. You can also give you header a background color based on the theme of your site.(Same as layout elements background)

Header configuration

Last but not least, you also have the option to set a footer for your site.

You can use it to display a footer name, logo and some links. To configure it you can go in the same menu : Site property gear then change the look and click on footer :

I hope you found this article interesting, see you in the blog section !

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