As a marketer, I’m not a big template guy. In fact, I believe templates can be harmful. At Zude.com, the world’s first drag-and-drop web community, the secret sauce was that everyone, grandmothers included, could design and create their own web pages. (No code required.) By dragging and dropping or copy and pasting objects onto a blank Zude page anyone could have a unique web site. But by providing new users with a large assortment of design templates took that secret sauce and short-circuited it. Fail.
PPT templates hinder presentation creativity. Marketing brief templates reduce output quality. And website design templates make for a Levittown approach to digital marketing. Formula TV shows (80% of Americans know who the bad guy is by minute 40), Googled business plan formats, and repurposed corporate documents and RFPs are infecting the creative side of our brains.
Tables and graphs and well-organized data are still important time savers. As long as there are organized inputs, there will be templates. But we must learn to stop repurposing stuff and create things anew. To all templates, perhaps we should add the line: “If this template could talk, what would it say?” Go forth and try to de-templatize. Peace in the Strait.