They say first impressions are important, but what about last impressions? Below, we explore how to make the most of your email signature with design.
If you conduct business via email, your email signature is often one of the final points of communication a consumer has with your service/brand.
A good email signature is simple, informative, professional, and puts the information in the forefront. But, this doesn’t mean your signature has to look dull or boring. There are many ways to get the most out of your email signature, so let’s run over 10 easy tips and look at some beautiful examples.
01. Don’t include too much information
A common trap people fall into with email signatures is treating them like a mini-autobiography by jamming them full of links, information, quotes, and boatloads of info. By including an excess of information, you can make your signature look bulky and long, which will deter a majority of people from looking at it, let alone reading it or clicking your links.
So, instead, try to keep your signature to the point and tailored to your brand. Do you avoid conducting business over the phone? Maybe nix the phone number from your signature? Are you very active on Twitter and Facebook? Consider including a link to those profiles instead!
Check out this simple and minimal email signature example by Murdock. By including only the most important pieces of information for the brand – the logo, email author’s name, job title, phone number and skype username – this design is not only kept short and simple, but also very easily navigable.
02. Keep your color palette small
A common rule of thumb when it comes to devising a color palette is ‘less is more’, or more specifically, ‘try to only use 23 colors’, and this tip is particularly true for your email signature design.
See, when you use too many colors, you increase your risk of selecting clashing colors, and your design can quickly become overwhelmed and distracting. So, by limiting your palette and being intentional about what colors you use and when you use them, you can keep your design effective and looking good.
A good technique for selecting your color palette is to sample from any graphic elements you are including, i.e. your brand logo.
Check out the example below via Zippy Sig that uses the signature green color from the brand mark to highlight other elements throughout the signature. Not only does this technique help to keep the color palette small and simple, but it also creates a much more cohesive design and reinforces to viewers the tie between this shade of green and your brand.
But what if your brand logo is flat black, with no striking feature color for you to use? Well, then the world is your oyster, select a feature color that complements your external branding and run with it, just like Chaya M Kanner has done in this striking example.
By using a strip of a neon blue color to highlight the website and key social media links, these points are made eye-catching and very clickable. Plus, the splash of color to an otherwise monochromatic design adds a little hint of personality and vibrance into the mix.
03. Keep your font palette even smaller
So, we’ve established that you should keep your color palette small, but what about your font palette? You guessed it – keep that one small too. Just like with colors, using too many fonts can quickly overwhelm your signature and make it difficult and distracting to read.
A common reason for people using too many fonts is that they feel the need to highlight certain titles and pieces of information, so they just introduce a new font into the mix. But, an easy solution to this hurdle is to instead just use a more flexible typeface.
Find yourself a simple typeface that has a few weight and style options and just mix up your type size, weight and/or colors when needed instead of using a new font entirely. Plus, finding these useful typefaces is no hard task, you can find a plethora of flexible typefaces like Raleway pictured below over at Canva.
Once you’ve found a typeface that you can work with, by using highlight colors, different weights, and sizes, you can create a myriad of different typographical effects while maintaining a simple, clean design. You can also check out Canva's font combination tool for reference.
Check out this signature example by Themesforce and note how it adds color to some pieces of type, uses a mix of all-caps and lowercase, and adjusts the font weights to make for a dynamic design.
Of course, using more than one typeface is not totally off the table. If you do choose to add more than one font to your repertoire, try to limit it to just one additional one to keep your design neat and cohesive.
For example, check out this signature design by Sombras Blancas Design. This example uses just two typefaces – one serif, one sans serif to give the design a sophisticated flair, but a clean and easily readable piece of type.
So, moral of the story is: don’t feel the need to rule out using more than one typeface just yet, but do be sure that you’re purposeful and intentional about the typefaces you do use.
Related article: Canva's ultimate guide to font pairing
04. Use hierarchy to direct the eye
Having a strong hierarchy is a must for any design that uses type to communicate important information, and since your email signature is made up of important information, hierarchy is particularly important.
When it comes to designing your type, use scale, color, and font weights to visually signal to your email recipients which elements of your signature they should read first. Perhaps it’s the email author’s name, or perhaps the brand/company name, either way, be sure to put this key piece of type in the top hierarchical position.
An example of a signature design with some strong hierarchy is this piece by Themesforce that scales the email author’s name up so that it attracts the most attention. From there, pieces of type have been bolded and colored to signify importance and to help guide the eye through the design logically.
When deciding on which parts of your design to put in the forefront, don’t try to highlight every other element in your signature, this will totally defeat the purpose. So, instead, choose your battles wisely. Decide which part of your signature you want noticed first and push that to the top of the hierarchical chain.
For more tips on mastering the art of hierarchy, be sure to take time to check out this guide!
05. Keep your graphic elements simple
Continuing with the theme of ‘less is more’, when it comes to placing graphic elements in your email signature, try to limit yourself to 1-2 to avoid a cluttered design. Jamming a lot of separate graphics into one email signature can quickly over-complicate your design and make it more like a collage and less like a sign-off.
A common graphic element to include in an email signature is your brand logo. This is a great way for people to quickly identify who this email is coming from, and it creates a stronger degree of recognition of your brand.
Another common graphic element commonly used in signatures is a headshot of the email author. Putting a face to a name is a simple but effective way to build more of a personal relationship and create a feeling of trustworthiness – just be sure to use a well-lit, well-shot and professional image.
This email signature by Chanelle Villena gets the best of both worlds by using both a headshot and a brand logo within the signature. Do be sure to note, however, that these graphic elements have been balanced out with a simple, minimal design.
06. Use social media icons to drive traffic
Does your brand have a good handle on all things social media? Well, show that savviness off by including hyperlinked social media icons in your email signature. Including links to your social media pages not only drives traffic to your online content, but it also helps your email recipient find new avenues of contacting and following you.
If including links to your social media profiles has piqued your interest, consider using icons rather than hyperlinks or URLs. Why? Well, as Neomam Studios confirms, it only takes the human mind 150ms (microseconds) to process a symbol and 100ms to attach meaning to it. That’s fast! Plus, there’s the added bonus of icons saving a lot of space and helping you to avoid clunky URLs.
Check out how Nakro have used custom social media symbols that complement the design of the signature to help link readers to their various profiles. To keep things looking cohesive, try to choose or create social media symbols that mimic elements of your design, similarly to how these icons mimic the circular frame and single outline stroke.
While the previous example uses the colors of each social media to complement the liveliness of the design, this next design by Email Signature Rescue uses simple flat black icons to complement the sharp shapes and minimalism of the design without detracting from the yellow palette.
If you’re going to be including social media icons in your design, take the time to hunt for some that complement the rest of your design and fit within it. If you’re lost about where to start searching, be sure to trawl through this list of 49 of the best sites to find icons for free!
07. Align your design
Here’s a secret for you: the difference between a neat, organized and effective signature, and one that just looks crudely thrown together is alignment.
By simply aligning your graphic, type, and icons in a logical and simple way, you can bring order and harmony to your design in an instant.
For example, check out this email signature by Matt Coneybeare. This design aligns the main body block of type against the x-height of the logotype to create a neat, compact, and beautifully aligned design. Try to find shapes in your signature that you can align your elements against in some way to create a neat and beautifully aligned signature.
Taking the time and care to align your signature on the page itself is very important, too. A majority of email signatures are left aligned as left alignment is generally easiest for the eye to navigate and read, just as this example by Email Signature Rescue is.
Related article: How to create alignment in graphic design
08. Make use of space with dividers
When you have a lot of content and a small area, space is often a luxury. So, by using dividers you are able to fit a lot of info into a compact area without making things appear overly complicated or too busy.
One type of divider is a graphic divider, as we can see in these beautiful examples by Graphic River. By using simple blue graphic dividers, each segment of information and content is organized in a cleaner, simpler and more digestible way.
Another way to divide your content is by using glyph dividers. A commonly used glyph is the vertical bar, or “pipe” (“|”). Check out pipes in action in this example by Email Signature Rescue:
By using the ‘pipe’ glyph to divide separate pieces of information that are on the same line, you can avoid awkward line lengths, save a lot of space, and increase the readability of your design. Furthermore, this is an easy way to cut down on the number of graphic elements in your signature if you’re not a fan of graphic dividers.
09. Make it mobile-friendly
The data is in: the number of people who open their emails via a mobile device is just increasing as time goes on. In fact, as Campaign Monitor notes, 41% of people open their emails on a mobile device as opposed to a desktop setup.
There are a lot of technical aspects to consider when making your email signature responsive and mobile-friendly, but let’s talk design.
The number one thing for you to keep in mind is scale. Mobiles are significantly smaller than desktop setups, so be sure that both your type and your imagery are legible when scaled down onto smaller screens.
For example, this signature from Instant Entity is an example of an image that may not scale down very well. The type around the logo badge is very small and may become unreadable when scaled down to a mobile size. This isn’t a huge issue in this case, but definitely, one to be wary of.
If you encounter this problem with your own brand marks, consider replacing your logo with a simpler version, or a logo signature that is scalable.
Another thing to consider when moving from desktop to mobile is ensuring your links are ‘tappable’. This means ensuring that your links aren’t too small or positioned too close together, otherwise, a thumb may try to tap a Twitter icon, but trigger an adjacent icon and be taken to the Facebook page.
This example by Xink has taken care to position the social media icons neatly spaced to ensure easy navigation. The brand mark, type, and graphic elements are also each scalable and easily read on smaller screens.
This is not to say that you should scale every element up in your design, but rather keep in mind that not everyone will view your signature at the exact same size that you are sending it. Screen sizes change and it’s always a good idea to anticipate that change and plan ahead.
10. Find your balance
As a final piece of advice, simply be sure to maintain a balance in your design. Not only does this mean a literal visual balance between elements which is very important, but also maintain a balance between your elements.
When it comes time to design, pick your battles – Do you want to use more than three colors? Fantastic, just be sure to select them carefully and balance them out with a super simple design. For example, this signature by Miguel Oliva Márquez uses quite a few colors in the bar graphic, but this is balanced out by some very simple, clean, and monochromatic type.
Similarly, if you want to include a lot of social media links or icons in your design, try to cut back on the other content if possible, to ensure your design isn’t made too busy, just as Karen Mareš does in this beautiful and minimal example.
Over to you: create your own email signature today!
Email signatures are a small but important part of building your business, brand, and professional identity. Not only can they provide your email recipients with valuable information and links, but it’s also a way to visually showcase your brand.
When designing your email signature, have fun with it, but try to keep things fairly simple. Try to keep your type legible, your colors beautiful, and your graphics scalable, and you’ll have no problem leaving the best kind of lasting impression on all your email contacts.
Want to whip up your own email signature?
Hubspot has developed a super popular email signature generator. All you have to do is fill out the form provided and the tool will generate your signature, which you can add to your email provider.