What Is Email Branding? (With Tips and Tricks for Your Branding Strategy!)

Melanie Balke
April 6, 2023

One of the most daunting parts of email marketing is branding.

In addition to establishing an emotional connection with customers, email marketers are also given the herculean task of bolstering brand recognition. Moreover, engaging with customers on a personal level always includes risks, and unscrupulous actors may attempt to imitate trustworthy and successful brands.

In other words, branding emails ensure that a business maintains its own integrity while also spreading its brand message to a wider audience!

As part of my mission to make email marketing more accessible, I’ve rounded up a basic overview of branding your email content. I’m also including some actionable tips for branding your emails!

If you’re thinking about utilizing email marketing, this is a must-read! So, keep scrolling to learn more.

What Is Branding?

A close-up of the Ford Mustang logo. "The Baiscs: What Is 'Branding'."

Before I start giving out branding tips, let’s quickly review the topic!

At its core, branding is a way a business stands out from its competition. Some people think branding is limited to the company logo, but it goes deeper than that! In fact, many industry insiders break branding into three major categories:

  • Company Branding applies to an entire business (i.e., the company logo)
  • Individual Branding is a more limited version, which applies to a single person or entity
  • Product Branding refers to the images, words, and styles used to identify a single product

Regardless of the type of branding, the goal is always the same: You’re aiming to increase brand awareness and project your brand identity to a broader audience.

What About Email Branding?

A blurred screenshot of an inbox. "Email Branding: The Definition, Concept, and What You Need to Know."

When we’re specifically talking about emails, branding has a unique twist.

Your email marketing needs to be punchy, valuable, and instantly identifiable. Obtaining all of these qualities can be hard, but understanding your branding strategy can help you nail at least one of these three requirements.

Generally, you’ll find that your strategy aligns with one of three qualities: consistency, visual elements, or voice.

Why Should My Business Care About Email Branding?

A person working on logo sketches. "The Perks: Why Email Branding Matters."

It’s no secret that email marketing remains a great channel in the digital sphere. It’s consistent, reliable, and all-around quintessential.

But it isn’t infallible!

You absolutely can make and send emails that hurt your brand! Inconsistency, low-quality content, and lax guidelines can snowball into a massive failure, and it’s up to you to protect your brand.

Control Your Content and Secure Your Branding

An old twine factory line. "Control: Branded Emails Are Easier to Control and Check for Quality."

Branding emails is the first step to securing a solid brand identity. Moreover, for customers, it’s an at-a-glance way to check if an email is legitimate. Email messages with clear branded content — such as correct fonts, familiar graphics, and a well-placed logo — are easy to verify.

Moreover, consistently branded emails give customers a sense of familiarity. New readers will quickly adapt to a single format, and they’ll expect the same basic concepts in future campaigns.

Over time, these reliable check-ins can earn you increasing revenue!

Build Trust Through Consistent Brand Communication

Soccer players in a huddle. "Build Trust: Use Constant Formatting and Reliable Messaging to Create Trust."

Once you’ve earned returning and existing customers, you need to keep them!

Today, businesses must contend with ever-evolving schemes and scams. As much as we hate these roadblocks, our customers often suffer the most! Every message you send has the potential to be mirrored by an unscrupulous scammer, and your unique quirks are the small giveaways that your customers look for as they verify your emails.

Creating a stylistic playbook gives marketers a guideline for sending emails, and those rules are quick ways for customers to identify legitimate messages.

In other words, branding your emails protects you and your customer base from scams!

Amplify Your Engagement

Overlapping palms. "Boost Engagement: Reliable, High-Quality Content Is a Great Way to Boost Engagement."

A well-branded message has the power to make or break a customer relationship. And, sometimes, breaking a relationship is the best thing a brand can do!

Yes, you read that right!

Being picky about your audience is beneficial for everyone, and it’s a core strategic tenet of customer-centric marketing.

As nice as it feels to have a massive email list, those readers don’t always equal sales. Sometimes, you’re toting around more names than you need, and those extra contacts chew through your budget. By establishing a clear baseline for your messages, you’re cultivating a sense of community.

So, how do you get these results?

Essential Tools for Building Your Email Marketing Brand Identity

A military band. "The Tools: Email Branding Essentials."

For starters, everyone — from the local small business owner to the most successful multi-millionaire — needs an email branding strategy. You’ll need a way to create high-quality content that makes customers feel included and valued. And that content needs to be instantly identifiable as something your business would send.

Maintaining this level of content consistency is difficult; there’s no way to sugarcoat it! Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep your email game on point.

Start With the Basics

The smallest details speak the loudest in your email communications.

Before you write any email campaigns, you’ll need some sort of playbook. It doesn’t have to be a novel-length guide, but it must include the most basic elements of your brand identity. These rules will guide your marketing team and give everyone a way to understand your brand guidelines.

Many larger brands have an extensive list of rules for their email marketing. However, you don’t need to write an epic to get started! In the beginning, you can easily maintain consistent branding by outlining some basic rules, namely:

  • A simple color palette
  • Font choice
  • Formatting for the email signature
  • Logo placement
  • The brand’s voice and style

You can speed the process up even more by adding a set of reliable templates to your marketing!

Defining a Color Palette

The colors you use in your email marketing may seem inconsequential, but they may just be some of the most important design elements!

Think of it this way: What do you picture when you think of Starbucks? Most people think of the iconic forest green logo. Likewise, most people associate T-Mobile with magenta.

Overlapping palm leaves with overlaid text. "Color: What Iconic Colors Can You Think Of?" The main text has examples of iconic colors in branding, such as Target red, Tumblr blue, and Twitch purple.

Your color palette is one of the easiest ways to establish a solid brand identity. Find some paint chips or copy a few choice hex codes to kick off your email brand guidelines! Once you’ve found the perfect hues, incorporate them into your brand communications. For a holistic approach, be sure to use them on your social media pages, too!

Finding the Perfect Font

Overlapping leaves with overlaid text. The header reads, "Different Fonts: Which Font Is Better for a Toy Company?" Sample text is written below in different styles, including Times New Roman, Arial, and a script font.

Now, take a look through your personal inbox.

Check out some of your marketing emails. How many of these are sent by the same brand, and how many of those emails use the same font? Your answer is probably going to be something like, “Wow! Most or all of them!”

This is no coincidence! (Pause for the audience to gasp dramatically!)

Part of a brand’s unique style is its visual appeal, and a font can make or break a company. Like most things, this is best illustrated with an example. Let’s imagine a playful toy brand. Would you expect to see emails from that brand in a formal, stuffy Times New Roman? No! You’re probably expecting something light and legible — probably a run-of-the-mill sans-serif font, like Arial.

Now, don’t take this as an invitation to go absolutely wild! While your font is a crucial first impression, it’s also, well, a first impression. Always choose something that’s readable over the “perfect” pick. While a fancy cursive scrawl is a nice touch as a header, it becomes a hard-to-read mess for anything more. Even snippet text rendered in fancier scripts can become illegible on different platforms.

(Want to learn more about making sure your customers can actually read your email marketing? Check out my post on email accessibility!)

Signing Off… the Right Way!

Anyone who’s used an email (or an old-fashioned forum) knows what a signature is. Traditionally, this snippet text contains little more than the user’s name and any relevant contact details. I, for example, tend to sign my emails with my name, company name, website link, and phone number.

However, in email marketing, you’ll need a little more than that!

You’ll want to start with legal requirements. Both the American CAN-SPAM Act and the European Union’s GDPR require that all commercial messages include an appropriate business contact and address. Customers in some locations — California, for example — may also call for dedicated links to inform them of their individual rights.

Once those formalities are out of the way, you can start to refine your email signatures!

Your top priority should be social media links and any relevant buttons. I’ve borrowed Tumblr’s signature as an example.

Tumblr's email signature includes the brand logo, links to the app store, its mailing address, and legal links.

Being a social media company, Tumblr doesn’t exactly need social media buttons. However, it still includes links to download the app on both Apple and Android devices. Likewise, the brand covers its legal ground by including its full mailing address, relevant disclaimer links, and phone number.

Now, look at this as a customer. The inclusion of this signature — and, of course, any like it — makes the email more trustworthy. Moreover, reiterating the brand’s logo helps reinforce its appeal.

Some email software (namely, Gmail) also allows brands to include from-line verification signatures. More formally known as verified email, these messages are approved based on a message’s behind-the-scenes credentials. Once the platform knows the branded content is genuine, it applies the brand’s logo to the message, ensuring readers know your campaigns are trustworthy.

Studies have shown that these verified emails tend to have better engagement. The inclusion of visual verification also bolsters your business’ reputation!

Creating Your Unique Tone and Voice

An old steam-powered boat. "Brand Voice: Creating a Unique Experience for Your Customers."

Finally, you must establish a tonal ruleset for your email branding. More precisely, your brand needs a voice. Most companies have a light-hearted and playful voice, but you don’t have to conform! In fact, brands with unique voices tend to pull higher engagement and more website visits.

While the words you use may seem unimportant, your brand recognition is indelibly linked to how to speak. You wouldn’t expect to see subject lines from your bank that say, “Yo, wassup! You may have, like, some identity fraud going on!” Similarly, “Our Garments Are Made of the Most Resplendent Materials” is likely to miss its mark.

Remember, the recipient sees everything in your email, from the subject lines to the email copy. Your voice and tone set the stage for your product, and you want readers to form a connection with all your emails!

While I can’t tell you what your brand guidelines should say, I can still tell you what they should do.

At the end of the day, your tonal guidelines are meant to promote brand consistency. They should be loose enough to allow flexibility, but they must be clear enough to ensure the same tone is used in every branded email. Likewise, they should match your website and social media presence.

It’s a difficult task, but it’s well worth the investment!

Boost Your Branded Emails With Professional Help!

Overlapping ferns. "Enlist Pros: The Email Marketers Can Help!"

There are plenty more branding tips that I could give, but I’ve already taken up enough of your time! For now, it’s time for me to plug that essential call to action and call it a wrap!

If you’ve been struggling with your branded email content, now is the perfect time to give me a call! I’ll work with you to craft a customized game plan. I’ll also show you how my team — The Email Marketers — can take your content to the next level!

In the meantime, be sure to check out the rest of my blog for more tips on refining your message!