Integrated branding boosts email marketing returns. Your surface design, such as periodical advertising, posters, trade fair displays, signage and even down to business cards, should shout who you are, although doing so subtly is probably the best way.
The dual pressures on email marketing design are the need to make them familiar in order to reassure and the conflicting requirement for them to stand out against those of your competitors.
One way of ensuring that your marketing emails are easily recognised is to integrate your branding across all media. Here again there are conflicts as both digital and surface design have their own limitations and the last thing we want is for a corporate image to be reduced to the mundane by them.
There are ways around. Consider:
Speaking as someone who partially funded his way through art college by designing a prodigious number of logos for various small businesses, I have to say that this part of branding is often overemphasised. It is great for the likes of FedEx and Mercedes-Benz but for the rest of us it is essentially a stamp, a way of you taking possession.
It will be easily recognised by, and reassuring for, your current subscribers to your email marketing list, but it is unlikely to influence your targets. Keep colours clean and the design simple in order to ensure it transfers to other media seamlessly.
Try and keep typefaces and font combinations for specific purposes. You might go for a bold sans serif face for headings, a serif for subheadings, and revert to a smaller font of the heading typeface for text. Readers like to know where they are, whether reading matter off the screen or a printed invoice.
Apart from, perhaps, a page heading it is best to stick to one of the browser recognised typefaces: those sans-serif: Arial, Verdana, Geneva, Helvetica; those with serif: Georgia, Times New Roman, Times.
Here's a place for your logo: the top left of the page. This can be universal for digital displays as well as surface design. Readers will take in the logo subconsciously and go directly to the heading.
Your marketing email will be designed for the limitations of reading on a mobile device and this does not always transfer easily to A4 printed matter. This is where Style, below, comes in.
The overall appearance of a page or email is the essence of branding. It can be subtle, such as one-point additional leading in text, making it more readable. Get it out of your mind that white space is wasted.
Colour is more problematical. You have control with surface design but digital display is down to the browser. In essence, you cannot depend on it being the same.
The paper-free business is a myth. Most of us print off invoices, receipts and just about everything the taxman wants to look at. Then there are adverts, posters, displays at trade fairs, business cards, complementary calendars and more. Ensure that whichever format your subscribers or targets are looking at, they instantly know it is your email marketing. Familiarity breeds reassurance.