What your email signature says about you

As a writer, I notice little things. As a marketer, I notice little things, too. One of the biggest little things I am actually paid to notice is your email signature–the way you sign your emails as well as the block of information that may or may not be included after it. People like me are sometimes referred to, semi-jokingly, as the “brand police” who send fellow employees notes about how their email signature is “not in compliance” with the corporate standard, i.e., no Dilbert cartoons on email sigs, buddy!

You can tell a lot by how someone signs their email. Here are four of the most common signatures I come across, see if any of these sound familiar:

1. The Initialer. You only sign emails with initials: first initial only, first and last initial only, or the first, middle and last initial. My favorite letter is a little “e,” it always makes me laugh. I have also seen a double EE, which makes me think of the word “EEK!” I would like to change my name to Quinn or Quest so I can sign my emails “Q” which is infinitely more interesting that “c.” My cousin Barb S., a professional clown, can sign her emails BS. That’s fine for clowns, but certainly not the rest of us.

This is like being Keisha, Cher and Madonna–you are so popular and famous, you don’t need a full name. That’s for boring, average people. Do you think Lady GaGa signs her emails LGG or LG? Or just “ga” ? Maybe she’s “The Ga,” like The Godfather. Oh, who are we kidding, she doesn’t email, that’s for average worker bees like us. 🙂

2. The Tagliner. You feel compelled to include a phrase, quote or other message after your signature. Often, employed folks come up with their own snappy taglines–which makes the marketing folks roll their cynical marketing eyes and bemoan to the marketing gods, WHY?? Why do they try to write their own taglines when we have a perfectly acceptable brand tagline that we spent 700 hours and 97 rounds of review on?

The most annoying of all? The uber-positive tagline. “Have a super-duper positive absolutely best day of your life, Mr. Sunshiney Face!” Often accompanied by an emoticon smiley face. *sigh* These days, emails are mostly a big fat to-do: something you should do, something you need to do, something you will never do, or something you don’t want to do but will probably do at some point when someone sends you enough emails telling you to do it. So please, don’t tell me to be happy about it, OK?

3. The Lonely Signature. You either don’t sign your emails or you sign it with your name only–no quotes, no taglines, no info. Who are you hiding from? And why are you not taking advantage of this fabulous opportunity to tell us who you are? Oh, right, you’re a “private” person. Sorry, we missed that Facebook status update. And the tweet. And your foursquare location update. Our bad!

4. The jpeg-inator. You simply must have a .jpeg or .png photo in your email signature, despite all advice to the contrary. It could be your cat, your favorite beetle, a logo, or maybe even your entire block of Follow Us icons. So every time you send an email, the code behind those links breaks apart, resulting in this messy business:

We also see six attachments on your email, five of which are pictures while the sixth is the Very Important File you wanted us to review immediately, which we didn’t see on account of it’s buried amid five other attachments.

So go ahead. Tell us about your favorite email signature.

Sincerely, your friend in all things bloggy and brand-y and super duper fun,

postscript: exactly eight days after this post, my son–relatively new to cell phones and texting–sent me a text and signed it for the first time. With his first, middle and last initial. For the record, he does not read my blog.

8 thoughts on “What your email signature says about you

  1. Oh I enjoyed reading this, Chris – you gave me a good chuckle. So, now I’ve been trying to decide what my email signature says about me! Basically boring! No jpeg, no motivational saying, just my name and contact information….what do you think?

  2. Hmm, sounds like a busy entrepreneurial mom who’s lucky she has time to eat let alone ruminate on her email signature. LOL I say it’s time to spice that puppy up, miss laura! be bold. be daring. but whatever you do, don’t do boring! 🙂

  3. jpeg-inator. LOL – now why didn’t I think of that!?!? Thanks for another great post. Me. I only remember to put my signature when I think someone needs my contact info and I don’t want them to hunt for it…at least for the first time. 😉

  4. Ok, so does that mean that if you have three or four different businesses, you come up with three or four different clever ways to show who you are? I am the big initialer, for sure! But only to people I already know and am working with….does that make a difference? Or am I overly self important? Hmmm. So much to think about.

    1. With that many businesses, Linda, it’s worth taking some time to think through how you approach your signature. Initials are easy and quick; I think signing your name has a more personal touch. In this day and age, that feels important.

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