I’ve looking at the product bindtuning for a straight forward approach to SharePoint branding.
One of the biggest complaints with customers on branding is that it’s always a science project to get anything done that makes the site pop out. The Bindtuning approach gives the user a WordPress feel of point, click and color, ‘Without the let me get back to you in 2 days’ SharePoint consultant’s response.
Solutions like this do heavy customization and uses master to customize the look and feel of the site…. All good…. Well not quite.
The guidelines of SharePoint online branding suggested in below reference links recommends you should not customize the master page otherwise it would require more maintenance to apply upgrades
Use the SharePoint page model and composed looks, the SharePoint 2013 theming engine, and CSS to brand your SharePoint site and pages.
So it’s back to the manual approach.
Use SharePoint Themes to change color throughout the sites
Use alternate CSS file to give responsive look and feel to the site
In the end there is no substitute for UI design capabilities on a team, the only question is how do you attract, and retain the talent.
One observation of Bindtuning, is that they aren’t exclusively SharePoint, which is unusual as a SharePoint vendor, so this would suggest they that SharePoint can only provide them breakfast, rather than lunch and dinner.