Easily Brand Your Customer’s SharePoint Online Sites


Michael Kophs – Partner Technology Strategist

Did you know the latest version of SharePoint Online includes some very cool custom branding options?  Impress your Office 365 customers by giving their SharePoint sites a familiar look and feel, that showcases their own brand and colors.  Following is an example of the cool out-of-box options that you have on SharePoint Online (and SharePoint 2013 on-premises).  Below that, are some examples of using SharePoint Online’s built in “Design Manager” to take your customer’s branding to the next level (some coding required, but still very simple).

To quickly add a custom theme:

  • Go to your SharePoint Online site and select the image icon
  • Choose “Change the look”
  • Select one of the 18 different pre-defined themes
  • Customize your customer’s site by modifying the items on the left.  You can modify the background image (simply drag an image), the color scheme, site layout and font type.


  • Select “Try it out” and preview your new design.  If you like it, choose “Yes, keep it” and your new customization is live!


You’ve explored the above “out-of-box” customizations, but you still need some more customization.  Now you need to hire an expensive SharePoint branding expert to apply custom master pages, site layouts and more, right?  WRONG!!!  With SharePoint Online’s new "Design Manager” feature, you can leverage awesome new features like “Snippet Gallery” to easily generate your own code (through a GUI interface) and copy your code “snippets” into your new custom master page!

Here’s how:

  • Important: Design Manager is only available on Publishing Sites, so make sure your customer’s site is a “Publishing Site”, which is an option when creating root sites in the SharePoint Admin Center (In your O365 Admin Portal, select the Admin\SharePoint dropdown).
  • On your Publishing Site, select the image icon and choose “Design Manager”.


  • Select option 4, Edit Master Pages (you can also create a custom page for devices, like IOS, Android etc, add custom page layouts, etc, but today we’ll focus on creating a custom master page, which we can apply to our entire site, including sub-sites)
  • Click on the existing master page that is listed .  You can also upload an existing HTML master page, which will automatically be converted to a new SharePoint master page.  Another option is to create a new master page (start from scratch).
  • Your master page will look something like this:


  • Now for the fun part!  Click on “Snippets” in the upper right
  • Choose the area of your page you want to change and follow the step-by-step instructions below:


  • Paste your code snippet into your source HTML file.  To find the location of your HTML master page, go back to your main “Design Manager” page.  Click on “3. Upload Design Files”.  Simply map a drive to the location listed at the top, and you’ll have access to your master page files on SharePoint Online.  For the above example, you would post your code snippet right after the <body> heading.
  • Because this is a “Publishing Site”, you can keep your design changes on your master page in Draft mode, until its ready, at which time you will “Publish a major version” (do this on the Edit Master Pages page in Design Manager).

For more information, you can view a recording I did on custom branding options in SharePoint Online here:

Cloud 1-2-3 Webinar Series (choose session 12, Tech Dive into SharePoint Online Part 2)

Comments (5)


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  4. Ugly says:

    Your site after theming is still ugly…

  5. Amy Nichol says:

    Thank you so much for your blog post. I’ve been looking ALL over for these settings and thanks to you I found them! You just saved me several hours 🙂

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