Custom Office 365 Login Branding - Trust and Consistency

When one hears the phrase Custom Office 365 Login Branding, the first thing to come to mind is likely nothing to do with trust.  However, regardless of your business or industry vertical, trust is a key component to maintaining lasting relationships both inside and outside your organization. With an application as prevalent as Office 365, a certain level of trust is established from the standard login page by virtue of Microsoft’s sizable industry footprint, but consistent branding and corporate representation take the solid foundation and drive the point home.

Unfortunately for many organizations, Microsoft’s built-in options do not always cover the finer details to truly build and maintain a personalized relationship with customers and employees from start to finish. Microsoft offers many wonderful tools, but custom Office 365 login branding is not high on the list.  As they say, however, times they are a-changing.

The Importance of Consistency

The year is 2018. 

The world is still in recovery after another year of cyber security breaches and tensions are high.  People are nervous and extra-cautious with how they comport themselves in the digital realm. 

Things were bad.  They could get much worse.

That’s not hyperbole. It’s history in the making.  It is an unfortunate truth that another year has come and gone, and the world has been consistently rocked by the magnitude of cyber security breaches once again.  As a result, users the world over are taking a new approach to securing their digital identity, and part of this approach comes with a default setting of ‘distrust everything even remotely suspicious.’

It’s not like we can blame anyone, really.

With this behavior taking over, it has become more important than ever to offer end-users a consistent interface that inspires trust and confidence from start to finish.  Regardless of the applications being used, if anything takes the user out of his/her comfort zone or looks even the slightest bit suspicious, there may be no getting them back.

With Office 365 being one of the most utilized suites in virtually any business vertical, it stands to reason that this would be the perfect place to initiate a sense of consistency and familiarity.  Custom Office 365 login branding enables organizations to soothe the worries of users at the front door, and maintain that comfort level throughout the entirety of the user experience.

Custom Office 365 Login Branding – Microsoft vs the Competition

The Microsoft Method

With a paid subscription to Office 365, Microsoft enables users/administrators to register a free Azure Active Directory subscription as well.  One feature of this Azure AD subscription is the ability to implement Custom Office 365 login branding.  Microsoft’s customization options are grouped into three categories as illustrated in the following image:

[caption id="attachment_4562" align="aligncenter" width="597"]Office 365 Branding Source: Microsoft[/caption]
  1. The large illustration and/or its background color
  2. The Banner Logo
  3. Additional Text

 

As far as customizations go, this is not a bad start.  However, this amounts to a small area for additional information, and locked locations to input images for branding and consistency.  All-in-all, it is a workable feature, but it lacks the capabilities that come with true custom Office 365 login branding.

The PortalGuard Method

As an example, PortalGuard implements custom Office 365 login branding in a different way.  While Microsoft’s built in option includes basic customization options, PortalGuard provides administrators with complete customization over the front end, allowing your organization to go from this:
Office-365-standard

 

To this:

[caption id="attachment_4564" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Contra Costa PortalGuard Login Source: Contra Costa Community College District[/caption]

With little effort.

Not only are you able to update the graphics and the colors, but PortalGuard also allows you to modify the base structure of the login page for truly detailed options for custom Office 365 login branding.

Another benefit of utilizing the PortalGuard method is the introduction of additional features like true Single Sign-On, centralized Self-Service Password reset, and login Announcements.

Single Sign-On ensures that your custom branded login page is presented to your users regardless of what application they sign in to during the day, promoting consistency and trust from a wide range of potential entry points.  As an addition to SSO or a separate feature altogether, centralized Self-Service Password Reset (SSPR) provides users with a single location to manage credentials without utilizing a generic, potentially phishy password reset utility.  Login announcements take end-user communication to a new level, allowing for clear instructions or updates to be presented to users within an environment that is familiar and consistent.

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Of course, many applications provide some of these features, but few provide them all behind a single, secure, and brandable login. Microsoft even has various additional services that can be purchased at a premium to provide some semblance of SSPR or secure Two Factor Authentication, but the cost and the usability simply do not add up to a worthwhile investment for many organizations.

Trust Keeps a Business Moving Forward

At the end of the day, end-users are the true driving force behind the success or failure of a business.  Trust is a hard thing to win in the current climate, and purchasing the wrong solution can have dire consequences in the long run.  For many, the right solution starts with custom Office 365 login branding and expands from there, wrapping the end-user experience in a consistent user interface with a full suite of additional features to keep things consistent and secure.

Nobody is perfect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be in the eyes of your end-users.  Trust goes a long way.

You can trust me on that one!

Tags: Azure, IT Security, login security, PortalGuard, User Interface, customer experience, Cyber Security, office 365, Portal, Self-Service Password Reset, Single Sign-On (SSO), Two-Factor Authentication, unique, usable office 365, #userexperience, Custom Branding