Remote Working & Email Signature Branding
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Businesses all around the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some industries have thrived, some have faltered, and consumer tastes have shifted dramatically. Many companies have had to shift to remote working in order to protect their staff. Working from home has become normal for many people.
E-commerce sales have soared by over 74% during the pandemic. With customers forced to turn online for their shopping needs, many online businesses have enjoyed increased sales.
But this increased competition in the online space has meant that price is no longer the competitive edge it once was. More competition means more ways in which businesses need to distinguish themselves. This is where corporate branding becomes powerful.
This global crisis has also shone a spotlight on the working practices of countless companies. Customers across the world have shown that they are more likely to engage with a company that is shown to be a good and caring business. These businesses have been seen to value people over profits, taking decisive action when it was needed most.
According to Salesforce, 78% of customers have stated they are more willing to purchase from a company that has gone above and beyond during the pandemic. Many customers — especially those in a younger age bracket — have even vowed to boycott any business that has failed to protect their staff or customers during what has been the biggest healthcare crisis of a generation.
This is why it is still important that your brand strategy and everything it stands for remains consistent. If your brand becomes inconsistent or your values change beyond what your customers recognize, your reputation will suffer. You could even experience customer churn.
And the area where this is most often forgotten is on corporate email: the standard emails that are sent to customers and other stakeholders on a day-to-day basis. In this age of remote and flexible working, email is still the most critical collaboration tool to communicate with. This then leads onto the value of email signature branding.
Why is email signature branding important?
Email signatures reflect your brand, when done correctly of course, just as much as any other branded materials. So why would you leave something so important in the hands of every single employee?
Companies of all sizes brand everything, often at enormous cost, and the sharpest never neglect the most used communication medium – email. Branding is for the whole business, not just the sender of an email – when one signature impresses, but the rest are sloppy, it’s worse than using no signatures at all.
Your emails get viewed by thousands of important people every day, if not more so given the shift to remote working. You need to treat email signatures the same way you would any other corporate communications: by branding them.
When you communicate with a customer via email, it's the logo and information in your email signature that they will see on a recurring basis. Professionalism counts towards a company’s brand reputation and inconsistent email signatures are simply unprofessional. If your users are sending emails out with broken social media icons, missing contact information, or unnecessary content, it’s going to reflect badly on your brand and your company.
Email signature branding represents your company. When so many emails are being sent on behalf of your brand every day, it’s vital that you have control over all email signature content.
Email signature branding challenges from remote working
Unfortunately, when you have remote workers, companies often just expect everyone to manually update their email signatures. This communications touchpoint then becomes an unnecessary risk to your brand identity.
Marketing might want specific banners to be used in all users’ email signatures. However, without some sort of monitoring in place, these can get stale very quickly. Some employees could still be promoting an event that has already taken place or one that has since been cancelled. It’s extremely easy to lose track of what everyone is sending if you can’t see them.
Then IT will have to create rules to ensure email signature branding is applied correctly, something that can be laborious. This can become overly complicated if you work for a large company with hundreds of employees working remotely. There are workarounds, but they often don’t solve the issue.
Images in your signature can get stripped out or appear as attachments. To show images in an email signature, you either need to embed one directly into the template or host them online.
Embedding an image will increase the size of the signature and often make it appear as a separate attachment when you send an email. Certain clients like iOS will strip these images out altogether. Hosting images online, on the other hand, often causes them to not appear automatically. Many email clients simply block external images by default until the recipient marks the email as safe or clicks a “Download Images” button.
There often won’t be any way to preview a companywide design before it is deployed. The only way to get around this is to get every employee to send an email to you so that you can review their signature details. As you can guess, the larger your company is, the more difficult this becomes. This is especially true when people are working remotely, doing different hours, and working on their own projects.
And lastly, if an appropriate email disclaimer is not included on all outbound emails, an organization increases its liability risks. Disclaimers are still required in many countries, particularly in North America and Europe.
Creating the perfect email signature design
To be truly effective, everything about professional email signature branding needs to often be rendered in HTML. Before you start designing, you need to be completely up-to-speed with your corporate brand identity design guidelines. This ensures everything from logos to typefaces are used correctly.
These then need to blend with the rest of the signature including display banners, social media links and the contents of the email to achieve the desired impact. The email disclaimer then appears under the main signature in line with brand guidelines.
At the same time, every email you send is an opportunity for the recipient to get to know your brand. Branded email signatures help to create a sense of trust; if the recipient of an email recognizes your brand and company, they’re more likely to reply or engage.
An email signature really doesn’t have to be complicated. It just needs to have a clean design, look as professional as possible, and be easy to read. Try to resist adding more than two images or another graphic if it’s going to detract from your logo.
Color in a well-designed email signature always catches the eye but be careful with combinations and clashes. Too many colors can make your email signature look childish. Unless your logo is a rainbow, it’s best to stick to a couple of key colors from your corporate palette. If your email signature branding is black and white, a flash of color can make it that bit more eye-catching.
Also make sure your email signature template works on mobile devices, which is particularly important in the context of remote working. This means using large enough text, buttons and spaces. This ensures contact details are easy-to-read and links can be clicked easily on a small screen.
Your brand is an important part of your company’s identity. In the age of remote working, this has taken on an even more critical role. However, maintaining brand consistency when your workforce is not in an office space full-time is a difficult task. This is particularly true when it comes to email signature branding, which are often overlooked by remote employees.
Email signatures are a powerful tool for establishing your corporate identity and marketing your brand to a range of diverse stakeholders; they cannot be ignored. When email signatures are controlled and consistently branded, every email becomes an opportunity to strengthen brand awareness and communicate your company’s values. Your design should always conform to your brand guidelines and then be translated into HTML to have the biggest impact.