Microsoft Pimp Your Office 365 Ride

When it comes to customer experience and engagement strategies, everyone knows appearance is everything. If that seems a bit shallow, Microsoft doesn’t seem to care. It just announced that it is allowing enterprises and users pimp their Office 365  — within reason, of course.

Starting this week, the new functionality will enable users to customize and personalize their Office 365 suite. The result: enterprises that deploy the platform will be able to give it a makeover to better reflect their corporate identities.

Customizing Office 365

This, of course, also means reinforcing the organization’s brand and market appeal so that positive customer experiences that have been created through Office 365 will be associated with the enterprise rather than Microsoft’s platform. The reverse is also true.

The new functionality is akin to “skinning,”where organizations customize their appearance through a graphical user interface that can be applied to software, operating systems or websites, and even browsers.

Even if it looks like it will be a little bit more limited than that, the objective is the same, according to a statement from Lawrence Chiu, senior product marketing manager for the admin experience on Office 365.

He says the goal is to provide enterprises with ways to strengthen their visual identity and maximize the productivity of users with services that are increasingly easy to use.

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Developing customized themes

Office 365 Flexibility

The subtext here is that Microsoft wants to give Office 365 a little bit more flexibility in creating user experiences before enterprise customers start looking at other platforms and apps that do just that.

As organizations, we want to reaffirm our brand and foster positive relationships with our customers. As individuals, we want to show our personalities and preferences. Office 365 will now support your ability to both customize and personalize your Office 365 experience by using themes,” Liu said.

The new themes will become available over the next few weeks with the two types of customization. The first type will enable administrators create customer themes for the organization, while the second will enable users personalize their experiences by selecting an Office 365 theme.

On top of that, Microsoft has also added improvements to the navigation bar enabling quick access to more Office 365 services and to display more notifications cross-suite to help you stay connected to email, reminders and other social functions.

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Customized navigation bar

Strengthening Your Brand

By allowing users to develop new and customized interfaces, the theory is that they can create a strong brand presence and positive relationships with their customers. From Marketing 101, you know that consistent brand and visual identify are core elements to successful campaigns. Office 365 now enables marketers to ensure that consistency.

Users can also upload a custom logo and URL and reinforce the look and feel of their organizations by selecting the colors of the Office 365 nav bar, its menu labels and the Office 365 logo.

The new capabilities have started rolling out, but will take several weeks to complete, Liu says. However, it's only another step in the Microsoft roadmap, which still contains tantalizing hints of unlimited external sharing in SharePoint Online and Office 365, as well as a cross-suite experience unifying people, conversations, calendars and files across Office 365.

Title image by Suzanne Tucker /