Clients often ask, “How do I get this amazing new logo you just designed for us into our email signature?” They can’t be blamed for wanting it. Who doesn’t get dozens of emails with logos in the signature? And when done right, it looks pretty cool. However, our answer is always the same, “Please don’t put images in your email signature.”

Let me explain.

There are two ways to get an image into your email signature—you can embed it as an attachment or you can reference it in HTML. Both methods are problematic and infringe on the rights of your recipient.

Embedded as Image Attachment

In this method, you place the actual logo file—be it a PNG, a GIF, or a JPG—right in the email signature. Then, when you send an email, it gets “attached” just like those quarterly sales figures from Gary in Accounting.

There are two problems with this method.

First, the size of your email explodes. A wordy email is about 1 KB.  A very small logo file is at least 10 KB. By adding your logo to your signature, you’ve increased the size of every email you send by an order of magnitude.

If everyone did that, all email inboxes would be 10 times fuller than they need be. And when Gmail reports that you’ve run out of your 15 GB of storage, you’d really only have about 1.5 GB worth of actual emails and 13.5 GB worth of email signature logos.

The second reason why embedding your logo as an image attachment is problematic is that you are actually breaking one aspect of email functionality entirely.

“Where is that email from Gary with the quarterly sales figures? I’ll just search for all emails from Gary and then look for ones that have attachments … Oh, no! They all have attachments! Why, Gary?!”

You, probably

When you embed your logo into every email, the ones that have actual usable information attached are no longer easily distinguishable from the rest because all of your emails have attachments. So this option is unfairly taking away functionality from recipients. And it inadvertently makes you a less effective communicator in the process.

HTML Reference

In this method, you create a reference to the logo image file in an HTML snippet just like you would on a web page. In order for the reference to be valid and show your fancy logo, however, the image file has to be on a public server somewhere, not just on your laptop.

No big deal, right? But where do you choose? Don’t be rash, because whatever URL you choose needs to work forever. Once you put it in your email signature and send it out, you can’t take it back. You can’t change it. If that link ever stops working, every email you’ve ever sent out will look something like this:

Gary from Accounting's email signature with a broken image link revealing a nonsense filename.

You could choose an image hosting service, but that’s a lot of trust you’re putting into something you don’t control. Services shut down all the time.

Of course, you could put it on your own server, but now you’ve created the burden of maintaining it—forever. Maybe that prospect doesn’t phase you. Plus, putting it on your own server comes with the benefit that if you redesign your logo, you can update that file and all of the emails you’ve ever sent will automatically sport the shiny new version.

However, even once you get past the question of where you host the image, there are several reasons it might not work at all.

One reason is that not all email clients handle HTML the same, particularly when it comes to forwards and replies. Every time your email gets passed around or buried in a thread, the more chance someone will see the missing image box instead of your logo.

Another reason your logo might not appear is that users can intentionally block loading remote content in their email client. Some users make this choice to save bandwidth on their mobile data plan or just to make their email load faster. Other users make this choice over growing privacy concerns.*

*When you load remote content from a public server in email, you are telling that server that you’ve opened the email and giving it your IP address, which essentially tells it your geographical location. Learn more about remote content in email.

So your choices for logos in your signature are either make email worse for your recipients or dramatically increase the chances that it won’t work at all.

Bottom Line

I’m sure your logo is great (especially if we designed it for you 😉), but there are other aspects of your brand on which you can focus in email:  Your engaging and friendly tone, your revolutionary message, your undying dedication to incredible customer service. These are all just as important, if not more so, than your logo. After all, your logo is just a symbol of all the qualities and values of your brand.

So please, do the world a favor—resist the temptation, strong as it might be, to put images in your email signature.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

Mark Branly

Web Design & Development

About the Author

Mark has been working in web design and development for 20 years. When he’s not hashing things out for clients at Registered Creative, you’ll find him behind the lens or sampling Durham’s latest and greatest food and cocktail offerings.