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Email Branding & Design Checklist

brandIncorporate your business or organization's image into your campaigns

How do you present your business or organization to your audience? Does your brand say "conservative and trustworthy," "bold and innovative," or "whimsical and inviting?" The colors, graphics, and words you choose to promote yourself are crucial to creating the image you're selling.

Whatever type of industry you're in, it's important to make sure that the brand image you present is consistent in all your marketing efforts -- including your email campaigns.

Branding 101

Before we get into the hows of consistent branding, let's define what branding is. Branding is all the graphical elements that tie your identity together. It's your logo, your slogan, and the colors, fonts, and images you use on your business cards, brochures, letterhead, in advertising, on your website, and in your email communications.

Branding is also your message. It's the language and tone you use when you speak to your audience.

Your brand combines image and message to convey the personality of your business or organization, and your promise to consumers. Consistency makes your brand more recognizable and helps build trust.

Tie It All Together

Use this checklist to make sure your email campaigns reflect your brand.

1. Select a Template
Most professional email marketing services, like Constant Contact, offer a range of preformatted templates to choose from. I recommend you write your content first, and then choose a template that will best fit the content. Get a sense of how many elements you'll want to include in your campaign, then choose a template with the right number of columns and boxes.

2. Upload Your Logo
Your logo is the one symbol of your business or organization that appears everywhere. Put your logo on the top left or top middle of your email communications. The idea is to make sure people who open your emails see your logo right away. Use the same logo colors and treatment that you use on your website and in other media.

3. Choose Colors and Fonts
One mistake people sometimes make is creating email communications that look wildly different from their websites. Reading your email and then clicking to your website should feel seamless, not jarring. Choose colors that complement your website color scheme. I'd suggest using two primary colors and one accent color for your email communications. If you're unsure of which colors to select, use the ones in your logo.

Two resources that can help you match your colors to your website are Color Cop and ColorSchemer.

Likewise, choose fonts that are similar to what's on your website: One font for headlines and another for body text. Be sure to leave enough white space so your content is easier to read.

(TIP: Prepare three "pre-branded" templates for different email campaigns -- for example, newsletters, announcements, and promotions. The logo and color scheme should be consistent across the templates, but you can vary subtle design elements to show each is different.)

4. Use Graphics and Photos
Graphics and photos can bring your email content to life. Use them wisely. Go back to the basics of brand image: Be true to your business personality. Graphics and photos -- whether original artwork or stock images -- represent your brand. Too many colors, fonts, and graphics can make your communications look busy and amateurish. Choose images that elicit the emotion you want your audience to feel.

5. Keep Your Tone and Message Consistent
The verbiage of your email copy should be consistent with what's on your website and in other communications. If your web copywriter is different from your email newsletter writer, make sure they both follow the same editorial guidelines for your organization. The language used and the message conveyed in your emails should reinforce your brand image. Email is considered a less formal means of communication, so it's OK to be conversational. But don't stray from your core message. Be authentic, always.

6. Carry Your Brand Across All Media -- Including Social Networking Websites
As you're thinking about your business image and your email campaigns, don't forget about Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking websites! Those are great places to promote your content and invite people to sign up for your mailing list. Present your logo and message on Facebook in tune with your other branded communications. Twitter allows members to customize their backgrounds, so choose one with your website and email campaign colors in mind.

Promoting your brand image consistently with thoughtful design for all your communications builds a solid business reputation. In the end, people are going to spend their money with businesses whose brands they recognize and whose messages they trust. Consistency builds both.

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