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I am relatively new to SharePoint branding, but have experience in other developing aspects and administration. With SharePoint 2010, am I asking for trouble by getting my site (intranet for a department) set up, then trying to apply the branding down the road. I plan on taking Heather Solomon’s bootcamp in November but need to get moving with getting things in place. What are your thoughts?

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It can be done using a Feature to deploy your masterpage and elements (css, images, etc) - but you might somewhat surprise your users (in a negative way) by springing a new look & feel on them.

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It is a two fold problem really. 1. The department has many needs that I believe can be handled well by SharePoint (proper document storage, enhanced communication, etc) and 2. The VP of the department wants to show the rest of the organization that this is a strategy that should be used through out the enterprise (meaning a portal\intranet\cms strategy). So I would like to solve the immediate need, and be able to dress it up down the road. It sounds like it is possible, I will read up on the Features. –  SharePointNewbie Oct 15 '10 at 20:20
    
Yep, sounds like a typical scenario. It sounds like you're making a proof of concept to show what it's capable of. Careful with these situations, as your proof of concept could very quickly be adopted as the mainstream solution, and there is the possibility your environment will struggle to handle the load (depending on your organisation size). Ensure the VP understands it's a proof of concept, and the whole use of SharePoint be revisited after a set time, in order to properly plan your deployment. –  James Love Oct 15 '10 at 20:54
    
As for the Features bit, you want to look at deploying branding via a Feature - think it's a commonly used method, as it's easier on us developers (it's just another Feature to active, but it deploys a masterpage and makes things look pretty). –  James Love Oct 15 '10 at 20:55
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