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If there were a game show called “Stump the Designer,” creating the perfect business email signature would definitely be the final round.

So many colors, so many fonts and so many social media icons add up to so many details that can easily make you — and the company you represent — look less like a professional and more like a love-struck high schooler.

Keep in mind the purpose of an email signature: It elevates your brand by providing the best ways to communicate with you at your place of employment.

MAD Creative aims to win “Stump the Designer” and show you how to claim email sig victory.

SKIP THE SUPERFLUOUS

Logos and other images. As much as it pains us — since we are identity designers — including logos in an email sig is trouble. It can add an email attachment (which can confuse) or leave behind a blank box (which can annoy). Yes, you can add alt text coding to embed images into sigs, but they often look a little fuzzy, like they’ve been smeared with petroleum jelly. Your sigs also should be free of photos, emoticons, gifs and other graphics files including…

Social media icons. Most businesses use at least one or two social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. Including icons on your sig is good branding for those companies but bad for your own. A string of those icons looks cluttered and takes attention away from your business. And they’re ineffective — do you remember ever clicking on a social media icon in an email sig? Didn’t think so. (Keep reading for a more effective method of using social media in your signature.)

Quotes, blurbs, mottos and taglines. They aren’t necessary and they can inadvertently alienate. Save the personality of quotes for your personal email account sig. And because it’s 2015 and we have evolved, avoid the preachy “Be green and don’t print this email!”

Fax numbers. These really date your business. Faxes are still used once in a while but not enough to warrant real estate in your sig.

Phone brand. If you use your mobile to write company email, go to your settings to change the default sig that advertises what type of phone you’re using. Add your company email signature instead.

REMEMBER THE RELEVANT

Contact information. Include your direct phone number and mobile line if it’s applicable. Include a link to your website, your company’s 24-7 brand advocate. It’s good to include your actual email address with a link because it can reinforce your company’s web address and be clicked on to begin a clean email string. In some instances — if you own a store — it’s also helpful to include your physical address.

Readability and style. Think of email signatures like a classic business suit. Stick to black, blue and gray and you won’t go wrong because in typeface they are the most readable colors. Use a sans serif font (Helvetica or Arial, never Comic Sans!) in a size from 9 to 12 points. We like using a horizontal signature with pipes separating contact points. Then when it stacks vertically on mobile viewing, it looks organized and professional.

Legality. It’s sometimes important to include a disclaimer with an email signature. If your company is updating its signature, make sure you have a disclaimer if you need it, but make it a point or two smaller than your contact information.

Calls to action. Social media can be effective on a signature with a hyperlinked call to action such as “Like Us on Facebook” or simply “Facebook.” Limit to no more than three types of social media. Other email sig calls to action can include “Get Directions” and “Sign Up for Our Newsletter.”

Consistency. Make sure your team is using the same type of signature. It gives your customers confidence that you’re communicating effectively with them since you’re communicating effectively with each other.

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