Branding is the key to a successful business. All great marketers know how to brand themselves. When you see the Golden Arches you know it’s McDonalds; when you see red and a cursive letter C, you know its coke. These companies are masters of branding. Why? Because everything they do (no matter how different) has a certain look and feel. It’s like a David Gilmour guitar solo. No matter what notes he plays, he just has this certain sound and style that is his (if you don’t know who David Gilmour is, look up a little band called Pink Floyd).
Maintaining branding is particularly important when shifting marketing strategies. For example, remember when McDonalds was the Hamburglar chasing around hamburgers? Now it’s all about “I’m loving it” showing cool hip people having a great time at a club or hanging out at home. Yet, the Golden Arches are still there in the messaging to reinforce the branding.
Ok, so what does this all have to do with email? Simple, good marketers, regardless of the medium, make sure everything they do is branded. Their brochures match their site which matches their business cards which matches their store front, etc.. So why should it be any different for your email communication? Successful businesses use cohesive, persistent branding because they know in marketing, perception can be more important than reality when it comes to winning consumers. This is particularly true for smaller businesses who need more creative ways to gain the trust of customers. By having a unified branding strategy, even the smallest of companies can appear to be a much larger one.
There are many companies out there that have a killer site, great logo and overall solid branding. The perception says that they are successful and doing well. However, the reality is usually a lot different. Many might be in deep debt or failing in their respective industry. Nevertheless, as a potential customer, you probably won’t know any of that and will go purely by what you see on the surface. Again, perceptions trumps reality.
So what’s the best branding strategy when it comes to emails? I personally prefer the clean corporate approach and am definitely a fan of the Web 2.0 look (lots of white, clean design, large text, etc). Here is an example of an email from a company called Rareplay which does a great job of branding. They use the web 2.0 style on their site (www.rareplay.com) and their emails follow suit:
Within our email marketing platform Stun!, we have a number of templates we have created for companies to use. However, these are supposed to be used as a starting point for smaller companies that need something quick and simple. A company who really cares about their brand is going to build their own design.
Because of the pervasiveness of email, once you have captured an address on your site, most of their interaction with your brand will be done in via the inbox. Sending email campaigns allows you to be proactive with your customers because it pushes content to someone versus having them go to your site. So, given that fact, it makes sense that your email should look as polished and more importantly branded as much as possible. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Your email template needs to reflect that you are a successful organization. It has to convey to your subscriber base that you are going to be around for a long time. It needs to be as strong as your marketing copy because you can have the greatest content in the world but if your email is ugly, not laid out properly, and hard to read, will anyone really care? BBC has an interesting take for impressions on the web, check out this article.
Bottom line is that in the future, when you go to create your next email whether it’s editing an existing template or building one from scratch, think about your brand. How do you want people to perceive you? If I were you, I would spend the extra money and have a professional company design a really good email that you can use over and over again, even if the initial costs are more than you’d like to spend. In the long run, it will pay off. I guarantee it.
Starting A Small Business