An email signature can be more than a goodbye salute. Do it well and your recipients will pause for a second before they send it on its way to the trash. Do it creatively and the signature could be a memorable gem in a cluttered inbox.
Just like beautiful business cards, email signatures can help kickstart a conversation, attract a mentor, or help you raise money for charity. Email signatures are the simplest communication devices, but they are also the most ignored part of emails.
Isn’t that a tragedy when a meaningful personal signature is so easy to create? There are always email signature tools like WiseStamp, the most popular signature service around. But to give the Gmail signature a dash and stroke of your personality, Gmail and Google Drive give you everything to unleash an original signature on your contact list.
Designing Your Email Signature
The basic rules of clear email signatures apply. With our limited attention spans, curb the information to what’s relevant.
- Keep it simple.
- Be aware of your professional needs.
- If representing the company you work for, check the rules.
- Make it small in size — too big and it adds to the download size.
- Use text for important contact details, so these can be easily copied and pasted elsewhere.
- Ensure the signature looks nice even if an image doesn’t load or is blocked.
The Tools – Google Drive and Gmail
For everyday use, combining Gmail and Google Drive has a lot of productive merits. Hosting your signature files in one place instead of depending on a third-party plugin is one thing less to tinker with. My design canvas is the often ignored Google Drawings. With this diagram app, you can keep your work within Google Drive.
The alternative is to create the signature image file in any other graphic editor and then upload it to Google Drive.
Google Docs is also useful when you need to copy-paste symbols to Drawings (Google Docs > Insert > Special Characters) and use them instead of images to construct your signatures.
Set Up Google Drive
1. Log in to your Google Drive account
2. To organize your signatures, create a folder. Give it a relevant name like “Email Signatures”. This folder can be the container for all your signature files.
3. Set the folder visibility to Public and the access Anyone (no sign-in required).
4. Upload your images to the folder. The images will inherit Public visibility from your folder permissions.
Set Up Your Signature In Gmail
- Open Gmail. Click on the Gear icon and choose Settings.
- Go to the General tab then scroll to Signatures.
- Paste the image URL directly or insert an image from the “Email Signatures” Google Drive folder.
- Fine-tune your signature with necessary text information.
- Scroll down to the bottom and save your settings
- Test the signature by sending an email to another of your accounts or a friend.
7 Creative Ways to Use Gmail Signatures
While email signatures should be concise and not too flashy, nobody is telling you they need to be boring. With a bit of creative flair you can make eye-catching signatures that contain essential contact information. Here are a few ideas for using the combination of Gmail and Google Drive.
1. Point to Your Social Media Presence
An email signature is a subtle way to take your conversations out of the inbox itself. Inserting social media hyperlinks is easy but displaying social media icons is a better magnet. The basic process is simple:
- Source free social media icon sets with a Google Search (remember to check license information).
- Resize them to the desired size and upload them as .PNG or .JPEG files.
- Upload the image files to the “Email Signature” folder you set up initially.
- Go to Gmail, click the Gear icon then Settings > General > Signature.
- Use the signature editor to format the name and any other detail in text.
- Click Insert Image. Browse to the “Email Signature” folder and select each image. Align them. Click the Link icon to insert links to your social accounts.
- Save your changes and test your signature.
Note of caution: You should think twice about including social media links if these do not align with your professional goals.
2. Create a Neat Handwritten Signature
Gmail is limited by the few fonts it carries. One of the ways to expand your choices is to use Google Fonts via Google Drawings. Handwriting fonts mimic the look of a casual signature, and there are a good range of handwriten fonts to choose from in Google’s font repository.
Follow the steps to create a PNG graphic of your “handwritten signature” and you can embellish the signature with any other graphic or a branding image you want.
3. Quote an Industry Stat
The idea here is to quote a development or a rising trend in your industry. Maybe, the stat or the fact will help to incentivize an offer you are making in the email. With the help of the Shape tools in Google Drawings, you can create quick swappable “statistical” signatures every week.
The information graphic can be linked to your company website or a page that talks more about it. You can also include a video testimonial via a YouTube Thumbnail insert.
4. Advertise an Event
Have an event coming up? Maybe, you are celebrating ten years at work, or maybe it’s an event organised by your company. An interesting signature image can pull in the eyeball and spur someone to click on the hyperlink to find out more about it. The above simple signature has an image file created with Google Drawings and regular text formatted with the options in the Signature box.
You can also use a service like Click to Tweet to generate a trackable Twitter link.
5. Support a Pet Cause
Supporting a creative project like an art exhibition could be a nice way to use your email signature. The tried and tested “Don’t print this email” message is great, but it is as old as the Redwood now. You can start thinking about LGBT rights, promoting New Zealand’s national flag, or universal flu vaccination. The world is your stage.
6. Make a Public Pledge of Self-Improvement
Using email signatures for personal development is an offbeat idea — I recall this wonderful story of how Mauricio Estrella used a password to change his life. A humble email signature may not have that power, but can it positively affect our daily lives? I can’t say for sure because I have just started using it. The relentless reaffirmation is what makes me think it can work. So, let’s try it out with a goal you have set for yourself.
Design an email signature around this and use it as a public pledge. It can be a signature customized for your personal emails if you wish to steer it clear of the work account. My public pledge is to write 1000 words a day – come what may!
7. Stay Humorous
Why not brighten up someone’s day by signing off with a positively humorous quote? I like to go for quotes that make you laugh and think at the same time. The idea is to not only grab a millisecond of attention, but also use the humorous signature as a memory trigger.
Nothing works better than a remarkable quote. Try interesting (read – funny) factoids. You can borrow liberally from Reddit.
As a short message wrapped in pretty fonts and graphics, a signature can be anything you want it to be. The impact comes from its staccato repetition in everyone’s inbox. Here are few more potential ideas:
- Share a point of view.
- Announce your marriage.
- Say you are searching for something.
- Spread the word about a name change.
- Appeal for fundraising contributions.
- Use it to drive traffic to your blog.
- Tease a new product or offer.
You Can Be Memorable with a Signature
Contrary to opinion, you don’t need to be an artist to create a beautiful email signature. All you need is the right intent and the message that carries it across. Google Drive gives you all the space to add images and photos to your signatures. But a signature needs to be subtle and sharp.
The tools are here – the creativity has to be yours. So, go down to the comments and tell us if you have considered using Google Drive to design your signatures.
If you can’t be bothered, however, you can also use an email signature generator to do the job for you.
Have you gone fancy with your signature? Tell us how. Or do you still prefer the old-fashioned ASCII approach?