Contrary to popular belief, you can and should include images in your email signature. A little bit of visual flourish helps your email signature stand out, and it can add a personal touch as well. The question is: what images are appropriate and when? How many images is too many? Should you include a corporate logo, headshot, marketing banner, and social icons? Or is that overkill?
The answers to these questions will depend on the person – you – to a large degree. No two email signatures are ever going to be the same, as companies and individuals all have different needs.
But there are certain best practices or recommendations that will apply to most – if not all – people. If you’ve been wondering whether you should include your headshot or not, here are some things to consider.
A headshot doesn’t necessarily have to be taken by a professional to look professional. But to err on the side of caution, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a professional take your headshot! If you don’t know what fits the bill, look to LinkedIn. Have a look at your contacts – what looks good, and what doesn’t? What are some of the elements that you can identify in the photos that look poor? If you can avoid these in your own headshot, then you’re halfway there.
Your headshot should demonstrate to others, through a visual representation, that you are capable, intelligent, and professional. Avoid selfies, family photos, and photos of you in casual ware at the beach. Find a nicely lit, in-focus photo of yourself looking directly to the camera (ideally in business attire). Crop it from the shoulders up, if necessary. You may even want to convert it to black-and-white if you find the colors to be too distracting.
Whatever you end up with, a simple, professional-looking photo can lend your email signature a sense of authority. And it adds a personal touch as well.
If you primarily communicate with internal customers (i.e., coworkers), a headshot may not be strictly necessary. It doesn’t hurt, of course (especially if you work for a large multi-national with thousands of employees), but ultimately it won’t make or break your working relationships or your reputation.
On the other hand, if you primarily communicate with external customers, a headshot can make all of your interactions that much more personal, and boost your reputation (and relationship) with others. For someone whose success is dependent on these ongoing relationships, like an account executive, a headshot should be considered a must-have item for any email signature.
When including a headshot in your email signature, be sure to consider its placement, size, and even color. Ideally, your headshot should be equally weighted with other key elements, such as your contact information.
If you are including branding elements, such as a corporate logo, it’s also important to take into account branding guidelines. Does the logo have to be the largest element, for example? If so, then your headshot will have to be scaled appropriately.
You want your email signature to have a visual hierarchy, so that recipients are presented the most important information in descending order, from most important (i.e., your name and email address) to least important (various social channels, for example).
If your headshot is too large, and thus takes attention away from your contact information, make it smaller. Likewise, if it stands out too much, consider muting it by converting to black-and-white. The idea is for your headshot to complement your email signature, not for it to dominate your email signature.
Well, if it meets the above criteria, then yes! Headshots can make great additions to almost any email signature, particularly those that fit the bill as described above. If you regularly interact with external customers, have a professional-looking headshot, and incorporate it seamlessly into your signature (in a way that complements rather than detracts), then by all means, show your face to the world! After all, it’s always nice to place a face to a name.
Want to know more about images in your corporate email signature? Take a look at Images in Your Email Signatures Embedded or Linked? Perhaps you will find inspiration in these email signature examples for how to optimize your email signatures with images.
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