Keeping a standard email signature consistent across your entire company may seem like it should be pretty easy, but it really isn't! Many companies simply don't consider it enough of a priority to enforce consistency company-wide. As I have informally surveyed friends and family on how their companies handle the official email signature here is what I have heard from most people:
- "We don't have an official email signature, everybody does their own thing. Some of them are really bad."
- "I'm not sure if we have an official one, most people just copy it from the last person."
- "Mine is automatically applied. I can't change it. It is pretty basic."
Email Signatures are Worth Investing In:
It is funny to me that companies will spend tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars on advertising and technology, yet their email signature is still one of the last priorities. Even though their company sends out thousands of email messages a month to customers and vendors! This is a platform that shouldn't be ignored! In my opinion an email signature is an easy win to make your company look more professional and drive important brand messaging and communication.
Don't Let Employees Have Creative Say In Their Email Signature:
Leaving employees to create their own email signature is asking for trouble. The company has a marketing department for a reason, because when Jimmy or Sheryl is left in charge of their own email signature designs, they interpret the brand guidelines pretty "creatively". New colors are introduced, fonts are huge, the logo has a funny shape behind it, they add their own witty quotes and all sorts of stuff that generally may reflect poorly on the whole company.
The Destructive Copy and Paste Email Signature Telephone Game:
The problem with everyone copying the signature from person to person is that you start playing an advanced game of "telephone" with your email signature. Remember that game as a kid? You say a message to the first person in line and each person whispers it down the line until it reaches the last kid. And the message you get at the end is rarely the same (or intelligible at all!). The same thing happens when email signatures get copied and pasted. Fonts get changed, spacing gets messed up, graphics go missing, colors get off. By the second or third person who copies and pastes it your beautiful signature design looks like it was made in Microsoft Word by a first grader (no offense to first graders).
So What's the Solution?
So what are we supposed to do in order to keep everyone on the same page with the company wide email signature? The good news is that there are a number of solutions. But each solution has its own advantages and disadvantages. I'm going to try to walk you through each one so that you can understand them more fully and hopefully have a better idea of what will work to bring uniformity and consistency to your company email signatures.
Solution #1: Email Signature Generators
I mention this one first because I'm a bit partial to it. This is what my tool signature.email helps you to create. But I'm not the one who first came up with this solution and there are thousands of companies and organizations who use this. The idea is to only allow your employee to edit a few items in their email signature. So you create a form on a website where they can fill in their name, title, email, phone, and any other personal details that should appear in the signature. Then they can generate the HTML signature exactly as it should be with all of the correct HTML in place and no degradation happening from person to person.
The primary benefits here are simplicity and flexibility. This solution can be really easy to implement. It doesn't have to involve any IT group to change any email server settings. All you have to do to distribute the signature is send out a simple web link. Then each employee visits the link on their device(s) and can generate their own personal email signature. If a new person joins the company, all they need to do is visit the link. If someone got a promotion, all they need to do is visit the link to correct their title. Additionally, this web form can give the employee the ability to choose whether they want to include certain elements like their cell phone, or other optional fields.
You are placing the burden of compliance on your employee. They will need to visit the link, fill out the form, and manually copy and paste the email signature into their email client of choice. Even though it should only take a minute or two, getting employees to do this can be a pain.
How to Implement:
You could code your own, but creating an email signature requires a precise knowledge of HTML, CSS, and all of the annoying quirks between all of the email clients in the world. And then to make the generator you would need some interactive programming language to allow the form to be filled out and generate the email signature. Instead I'd recommend using the email signature generator here at signature.email. It's an advanced email signature builder where you can choose a starting template, add any number of new fields, drag and drop them into position, and change colors, fonts and spacing. Then, with a paid plan you can convert your email signature to a generator. All you need to do is choose which fields are "baked" into the template and which should be editable by employees.
Solution #2: IT Manually Applies Every Signature
Some IT groups have a part of their onboarding process where they will set up new new employee's computer and during that set up they will go ahead and install the signature for them into the official company email client. This works for small to medium companies where they have a dedicated IT person or group to manage the process of onboarding a new employee. Generally this means that the person setting this up still has a template they start with and then adds in the new employee's information as they add in the signature.
This is a simple solution that works well for small companies. It works well because the employee doesn't have to do anything and the IT person is more likely to install the signature correctly since they are more technical in nature and do it routinely.
It can be pretty time consuming to install the email signature for one person, but what happens when everyone needs an update? Depending on the size of your company that might be nearly impossible. Generally IT has a lot of responsibility to keep other more important systems online and email signatures are not their highest priority. It's also possible that employees may have brought their own devices like a cell phone that also need a professional signature.
How to Implement:
Even if you choose to go this method, you still need a quality email signature template that can be replicated for every new employee. Signature.email can help you to design your email signature and download the HTML needed to implement it for each new employee. After that, you'll need to brush up on how to install the email signature on the email client that your company uses. See our guides for popular email clients like Outlook, Gmail, Mac Mail, and more.
Solution #3: Automatically Applied Through Exchange/Outlook 365
This solution is quite a bit more technical and will vary quite a bit depending on your companies IT infrastructure. Some email systems like Microsoft Exchange or Outlook 365 have settings/rules that allow you to add a header or footer into each and every email that goes through the system. This is pretty easy for basic "compliance" type messages where you need to add a legal statement to every email. Of course, Exchange is a connected system that also can access the company-wide address book. So you can also program it to intelligently add in the users name, phone number and title, assuming the information in the address book is current and accurate!
The two main benefits here are absolute consistency across the entire company without requiring each employee to do any action themselves.
It can be a lot of work for the IT team to se this up and usually cooperating between marketing and IT can be complicated. It requires that your company address book be kept up to date, and limits you on displaying only user information that can be found in the address book. It also removes any flexibility for the employee to choose what should appear. Maybe their official title doesn't accurately represent what they do, or maybe they need their cell phone to appear in the signature.
How to implement:
You can read more about the technical implementation on Microsoft's website. I'm not going to do in depth into this because their article does a better job of it (and it is kinda long).
Solution #4: Automatically Applied Through Email Forwarding Service
There are some email signature tools on the web that offer a unique and creative solution to this problem. They allow you to set up an email signature in their system and then have you redirect all emails sent out of your company through their servers. They then see who the email is from, and use the database you provide them to fill in the necessary email signature information and add the signature automatically at the end of the email.
The benefit here is that the technical solution is easier for your IT team to implement, and allows marketing to design the signature and apply updates immediately to emails being sent out. In addition, it doesn't matter how the user is sending out the email. It could be from any email client, any device, and it will be applied the same way without any technology getting in the way. (For example, mobile signatures are often a pain.
The main drawback is that you are introducing a huge failure point to your email system, which is mission critical to your company. All emails will go through their server, and if its down, your email is down. There may be privacy or other issues with sending sensitive emails through a third party like this. Finally, like the last solution, it still requires that your company employee database be kept up to date and doesn't give the employee any options to change their signature.
How to implement:
Search around the web for email signature solutions that use this method to apply your signatures. They will be more specific on next steps for you to get started with their solution.
Is Your Company Email Signature Standardized?
So there you have it, the four ways to keeping your email signature consistent across your whole company are:
- Email Signature Generators
- IT Manually Applies Every Signature
- Automatically Applied Through Microsoft Exchange
- Automatically Applied Through Email Forwarding Service
The benefit of making a standard email signature across your whole company is that it makes you look more professional and keeps employees from getting creative while making their own. Keeping email signatures consistent across an entire company is possible, but requires you to figure out which of these solutions would work for you and your organization. Hopefully I've represented these options well and helped you to make an informed decision when it comes to making your company email signature. Let me know on the contact form if you have questions! If you haven't already, check out signature.email for an example of how you can enforce consistency in your email signature branding.