Thursday, January 04, 2007

Create a Branded Signature File for Outlook

One of my pet peeves is to see how many people (even employees of Fortune 500 companies) use those cheesy Outlook stationary templates in their outbound email. Nothing screams “unprofessional” more than a fuchsia background with clouds and ribbons, or a fake ring bound effect on a yellow background to go with those important email messages.

The damage doesn’t stop there. Considering the hundreds of emails that even a small company sends out every day, this terrible habit is also a waste of a great branding opportunity. Both from the esthetic and branding points of view, it is best to go easy on colors and textures. Reading from a computer screen is difficult, so what works best is a plain white background with black typeface.

For typeface, I recommend a sans-serif font like Arial. If you insist on using a serif font, I recommend Georgia. Choose a font type and stick with it.

Now, as far as branding is concerned, I recommend creating a simple signature file (open Outlook, click on Tools-Options-Mail Format-Signatures-New and type down your information).

Your signature file should include your name and job title in the first two rows. Then, leave a blank row and insert a small version of your company logo (right click on the place where you want to put it, click Browse and pick a logo). Once you’ve placed your logo, go to the next row and include your contact information: address, phone, cell phone, fax, email address, skype or IM username (if you have one) and your website’s URL.

Set your signature file to pop up in new messages as well as in replies and forwards and you’re done. You’ve just turned your outgoing email into a powerful branding tool.

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