I have spent the past few days created a new theme for SharePoint 2013 and branding all the intranet site collections with the new theme. Microsoft ships SharePoint looking like: (I apologize for the Pirate IPSUM)
Microsoft made branding SharePoint 2013 easy, and you can use common HTML editors. Anyone with some HTML design knowledge can make SharePoint 2013 look like they want. The layout I choice looks like this:
I uploaded the html version of the master page along with all the supporting files into a folder in SharePoint’s masterpages directory.
The only thing to watch out for with this approach is every file has to be published along with the html master page before anyone below designer can see the theme.