Right Aligned hits gold with boring business

They call themselves the “brand police” and have the not-exactly-sexy reputation for being specialists in “corporate-boring”.

But Right Aligned doesn’t need to be sexy.

The document formatting company has been in New Zealand for less than 18 months and has already secured the biggest contract in its sector: the rebrand of all Telecom documents to the new Spark identity.

It was also featured by Forbes.com as one of the “five essential resources every chief marketing officer needs”.

Right Aligned is the company other companies send their Microsoft Word or PowerPoint documents to when they need them to look good and be on-brand, business development manager Phil Waylen says.                                                                                       

“Our job is to try and bring the branding back into presentations – we do corporate-boring.

“I know that sounds bad but that’s our forte – it’s about making corporate-boring look as good as it can, but still using the branding. We’re the brand police.”

Right Aligned has no competition in New Zealand, Waylen says, but New Zealand companies are not fully aware of what the service can do.

“Where we’ve found the difficulty in bringing on New Zealand clients is we don’t have a very strong public persona because we are the people who work in the background.”

Waylen says they’re also battling one of the best things about Kiwis – their DIY attitude.

While overseas there is a thriving market for formatting, and many corporate companies even have their own in-house document processing division, it’s harder for Kiwis to delegate.

“Our competition is everyone who knows how to use Microsoft Office,” Waylen says.

“Yes, you can do it yourself, but we can do it faster, we can do it better, and we do it 24 hours a day  - and those are the benefits we’re trying to sell to New Zealand clients.”

How it started

The Right Aligned parent company was started by Waylen’s brother Derrick in London in 2004, and has since grown to 12 staff across at least five different time zones, with a turnover of around $1m per year.

Right Aligned is an “essential every-Kiwi story”, Waylen says.

“My brother went over to London to seek fame and fortune and ended up working at Goldman Sachs in one of their big presentation centres. He did that for four or so years and one day decided, ‘I can do this myself,’ and started Right Aligned.”

Last year, Phil opened the New Zealand branch in Tauranga.

Due to the time difference, New Zealand is the perfect place to process documents sent from clients in the United States.

The office starts work at 6am, which is 1pm or 2pm in New York.

“People have just come back from lunch. Their boss hands them a presentation and says, ‘I need this back by the end of day’.

“They send it to us and by the end of the day it’s back on their desk, to their boss, and to their end client.”

With setup investment from the London company of $250,000, Right Aligned New Zealand is now paving its own path.

“We considered ourselves to be a startup in New Zealand,” Phil Waylen says.

“We didn’t want to spend lots of money on offices and staff and hope the work would come, we wanted to bootstrap our way to success,” he says.

Spark and Telecom's rebrand

Led by Waylen, they have already secured probably the biggest local contract for document formatting services going this year, in the changeover from Telecom to Spark.

The job involved changing the Telecom branding to Spark branding on three different product lines, 405 different documents, and checking the correct spelling of items when using the “search and replace” tool, all within the space of three weeks.

“I saw an article about how the word ‘Sparkmunications’ was popping up on their website. That wasn’t us, we were careful,” Waylen laughs.

The project was so big it pushed Right Aligned to hire another Microsoft Word formatting expert.

The “brand police” are catching on here.

Waylen’s first client was New Zealand healthcare company Comvita, which then led to Gen-i, and most recently Spark.

“Our turnover in the last six month has been double what we turned over in the entire year last year,” Waylen says.

The company has also increased staff numbers from two to four.

Phil Waylen: "We do corporate-boring."

Of Forbes and fame

Its reputation has been helped along by the description on Forbes.com as one of the “five essential resources every chief marketing officer needs”.

There’s a good story behind that. A senior chief marketing officer in the United States wanted to pitch herself for a job, and was referred to Right Aligned to help her put the presentation together. She got the job.

As payment, she recommended them in a guest article she was writing for Forbes.

“It was a major coup for us,” Waylen says.

“Even though we only had one little paragraph its nice to be recognised as an expert in what we do.”

Parent company Right Aligned UK was founded in 2004 and took off in 2007 with internet advances that allowed the company to send large documents via email and Skype.

It has also recently partnered with a German company to develop PowerPoint slide libraries for clients, and logo and images database.

Waylen says this will be a valuable tool for clients.

“Imagine having a single database of PowerPoint slides all branded and perfectly presented, all at the push of a button,” he says.

“If we can get it to work in a really fast, usable manner it will be a massive, massive offering we can give not just New Zealand clients, but worldwide.”

Top five tips for formatting presentations
1.       Opening slide

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, 7 seconds is all you have so depending on the purpose of your presentation and the audience, this slide needs to have a relevant powerful image or text.

2.       Consistency

The difference between presentations formatted by professionals and the rest is consistency. Use a template, have the key elements in the same place on every slide, only vary this for impact.

3.       Keep it simple

Ditch the animation, create one simple message per slide and don’t make your audience have to interpret this message.

4.       Use complimentary visuals

The slides are there to support the presenter, not the other way around, if you use an image or a graphic it has to relate to the message of that slide

5.       Think of your audience 

Have 18 font size minimum, maximum 40 words per slide