Is your stationery too stationary?

How many first contacts have you done lately through an email? If the answer is one or more, you should have a serious look at your email layout template.

It is surprising how much we neglect our emails. Signatures, fonts, format, even language tone are becoming very essential elements of branding an organization through email. Given the fact that nowadays, we send emails more than any other form of communication, it makes sense to invest more effort in making sure emails sent out of an organization are consistent with the brand and with each other.

The language uses is one of the most neglected elements of correspondence at large. With emails, and since they sometimes act more like a chat conversation exchange, we have a tendency to get more casual or intimate with our interlocutor which, is good if we respect the boundaries of business and the organization’s brand.

Signatures and layout are another very essential element of an email. With the advent of html formatting, creating appealing emails became an easy task… Sometimes too easy it creates a mess by allowing anyone to apply their own formatting… depending on their mood. Nothing harms a brand like personal branding initiative. Although sometimes done with good will, these alterations can prove sometimes detrimental. Emails are usually one aspect of the corporate stationery that gets neglected the most.

When we used to write letters, we somehow used to be more careful. This is because we had full control over many elements like the choice of paper, writing tool, our own handwriting which personalized the whole experience, and of course the “warmth” associated with hand-writing a letter. With the advent of email, and the accessibility and speed of delivery and reception, it ended up becoming more of a conversation rather than a correspondence tool. We all know that conversations always create a casual sense of intimacy. And thus emails end up using more slang, abbreviations and casual tones. The danger behind that is the fact it sends mixed and sometimes misleading messages.

We should start looking seriously at our email system as the most important tool of correspondence available and give it the attention it needs. Today, most branding firms have included the email template development in their offering as an intrinsic part of the corporate stationery.

The design and development of email templates are not anymore an option. Come to think about it, they are more a necessity than your letterhead!

©2010 Ibrahim Lahoud. No part or whole of this article can be published without prior consent from author

3 Responses to “Is your stationery too stationary?”

  1. August 2, 2010 at 16:01

    Great that you’ve brought this up. Would have been lovely to see some bad examples of email formatting and some good ones 🙂

    Another thing I would recommend, is having special templates for these things assigned as part of the company’s identity book, to ensure that all employees adhere to standards. And having a long and short version of your signature can sometimes be helpful in bridging gaps and toning conversations.

    For example you can have a signature which has all your contact details, together with a feed from your company’s new section, with some SM icons, which you send out to first time contacts. ou can also have a short version with just your name, position and company logo for internal contacts & repeat contacts.

    • August 3, 2010 at 09:09

      Thanks for the comment Darine, and great feedback from you. You are absolutely right about creating and applying different types of templates. Unfortunately, most companies are still lagging behind on the whole digital world. I just found out that one of the biggest insurance companies in the country (and I mean huge) don’t have emails for all employees and are still applying strict digital dictatorship internally.

      I keep wondering why some Lebanese businesses complain about not having broadband when they don’t even use enough bandwidth to fill a dial-up 🙂


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