No matter the size of your organization, your branding plays an important role in how your customers perceive you as a business. Along with your website, physical products, social media pages etc., your emails are another key aspect of your brand and need to be consistent.
If your email design strays too far from the design of your website or any other published material, your customer may not associate it with you, or may not be able to navigate it in the way they are used to. This article will take you through a few branding must-haves when it comes to email design.
Creating a set of brand guidelines
Having a good set of brand guidelines is vital for any successful business. In fact, almost all businesses will have a designated guide for brand standards, which provides strict instructions on how to produce any materials associated with the brand. Curious about your favorite companies? Here are some popular examples.
In your set of guidelines, it may help to create specific sections for different types of marketing media, e.g. your website, emails, social media posts, blog, etc. Each form of content you create has a different purpose which should ultimately be reflected in any styling or branding guidelines.
Once you have created your brand guidelines, be sure to share them with team members so everyone is on board. You could use a Google Doc, a slideshow, a PDF guide, or even an internal email for this.
Note: Review your guidelines regularly
Things can change quickly in the majority of industries and your brand guidelines need to be reactive to key trends and events. Having brand elements which are outdated reflects poorly on your business, which is why many major brands opt to refresh their logo every couple of years.
For example, this Digital Trends article shows how the Google logo has evolved over the years.
Branding must-haves for your email designs
Think about fonts
The font you use for your email newsletters should be the same, or as close as possible to, the font you use on your website. Mail Designer 365 gives you the opportunity to enable backup fonts and also choose from a list of "email safe" fonts if your usual font is not supported via email. The key here is to ensure the resemblance is as close as possible to your original font choice.
Make your logo a prominent design feature
We've already touched upon the importance of your logo in representing your brand. For this reason, it's best practice to have your logo prominently on display in your email design in order to promote your brand. Make sure that it is clear and easy to identify (ie. situated at the top of the email.)
Most brands are very particular when it comes to the dimensions of their logo. Logos which are too big come across as intimidating and obnoxious, but logos which are too small can be easily overlooked and often don't do your brand justice. Find the perfect fit for your email designs and then make a note of it in your brand guidelines so you always stay consistent.
This design from Caterpillar is a great example of how to incorporate your logo into your design. The eye-catching yellow background also works to accentuate the brand's signature logo even more, leaving customers with no doubts about who the email is from.
Keep your design layout consistent
It is also a good idea to keep your layout consistent and easy for readers to navigate. With Mail Designer 365, you have the ability to quickly and easily save combinations of layout blocks which you can then use over and over to recreate a familiar design. We find this works particularly well for displaying products and offers.
To be even more consistent and on brand, try to recreate the pricing panels displayed on your website. When your customers click through, they will be instantly greeted by the same layout, which will make the purchase process even more straightforward:
Re-use design elements and call-to-actions
Call-to-action (CTA) buttons and other key design elements like font, social media icons, payment badges, and eye-catchers can also be re-used to give your recipients a sense of familiarity within your emails. For example, if you use a certain style of button on your website, you should also try integrating this (or a variant of it) into your email designs.
Selfridges do a great job of using key design elements such as their signature yellow buttons and stylish, sans serif headings for both their website and their email newsletters:
Create a master template for automated emails
Everyday transactional emails are just as important as your big sales campaigns when it comes to representing your brand. For this reason, you should make sure your automated emails are a uniform set that stick to your branding guidelines.
You can achieve this by creating a master template which you then duplicate whenever you need to set up a new automated email:
As well as saving individual layout blocks, Mail Designer 365 also allows you to set up practical document presets for design width and text styles in both mobile and desktop, which stay in place after duplicating.
Tip: If you update any elements in your brand guidelines, don't forget to go through your automated templates and change those too!
In this article we've covered the most important aspects of branding and how to easily establish a set of brand guidelines to use in your email designs. Turn over a new leaf this year and get your designs noticed and appreciated by customers!
- Establishing brand guidelines is a hugely important part of email marketing. It's not enough to have a great looking design, your emails have to be on brand to be most effective.
- Consistency is key. Use fonts and layout styles which your customers are familiar with to get your emails noticed and acted upon.
- Color is an important visual tool. Use it to your advantage to get across your message effectively.
- Your business logo is the epitome of your brand and what customers look for to identify you. Make it clear and get the dimensions spot on and your designs will be a great representation of your business.
Until next time,
Your Mail Designer 365 Team
First published: September 2018
Updated: November 2020