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Your Company Logo in Emails: How to Add an Email Avatar in Popular Mailbox Providersby@selzy
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Your Company Logo in Emails: How to Add an Email Avatar in Popular Mailbox Providers

by SelzyMay 28th, 2024
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An email avatar is a small circle with an image that appears next to the sender’s name and address. It can also be called an email profile picture or a email profile logo. Company logos as avatars are a solid option to promote brand recall and stand out among competitors in an inbox.
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If you ever wondered how to add your company’s logo to your emails, this article is for you. Today, Selzy covers everything about email avatars and their impact on business.

What Is an Email Avatar, and Why Do You Need It?

You might not know what email avatar is, but you’ve definitely seen one in your inbox.

Selzy’s logo shows next to the sender’s name and address in the inbox.


An email avatar is a small circle with an image that appears next to the sender’s name and address, helping recipients identify senders. It can also be called an email profile picture or an email profile logo.


By default, mailbox providers assign generic nondescript avatars to new users. Usually, it’s the first letter of the sender’s name.


Unlike on social media in emails, profile pictures don’t seem to be a must: even service emails from Google or Yahoo don’t have an avatar. That’s why emails that have an avatar tend to stand out more.


Look at the screenshot below:

Morning Brew has their logo set as an email avatar. Mike Allen chooses to display a photo of himself, while both Lifehacker Newsletter and Axior have auto-generated avatars displayed with the letters L and A in colorful circles.


Which messages did you look at first? The chances are that emails from Morning Brew and Mike Allen immediately grabbed your attention. And only then, you scanned the other two, with L and A letters instead of pictures.


Email avatars aren’t just visually striking, they also bring tangible value. According to the 2023 Consumer Email Tracker report by DMA, 61% of people decide to open the email because they recognize the brand, and 39% do so because they recognize the brand logo. For senders, it means that an email avatar, especially a branded one, will likely increase open rates.

Different Avatar Types

Automatically Generated Avatar

That’s the default option. Usually, a mailbox provider assigns a logo with the first letter of your or your brand’s name.

Lifehacker Newsletter has an auto-generated avatar — the letter L in a blue circle


Instead of a letter, it can be a human silhouette, but still just as nondescript.

An email from Mike Allen from Axios Newsletter with another type of auto-generated avatars — a white male silhouette in a light gray circle

Company logos as avatars are a solid option to promote brand recall and stand out among competitors in an inbox. This helps recipients quickly identify marketing messages from their favorite brands in a cluttered inbox.

Morning Brew has their brand logo as an avatar — a blue coffee mug with a white arrow that represents a growth diagram

Custom Images

Custom images — usually photos — help subscribers recognize you faster. An example: journalist Mike Allen uses a photo in his Axios newsletter. Interestingly, emails from Axios as a company don’t have a logo.

 Mike Allen’s personal newsletter has a photo of a bald man in a business suit as an avatar. It’s Mike Allen himself.

How to Add Email Avatars for Different Mailbox Providers

Adding an email avatar is a simple process, similar for different mailbox providers: go to account settings, click the email avatar, and upload or choose the picture to replace the auto-generated one.


The tricky part is that avatars don’t get displayed across different mailbox providers. If you send from Outlook to Gmail, Gmail recipients won’t see an avatar you set in Outlook.


If you want to send bulk emails with an ESP and have your profile picture displayed in any inbox, create a corporate email domain, and link it to each mailbox provider. Then, set a profile picture for this domain in each mailbox provider separately.


Let’s explore how to add profile logos across different mailbox providers and what nuance you might need to take into account.

Gmail

Go to Google Workspace account settings, choose an image from your computer, and crop it. Gmail doesn’t have any requirements for image size or format.

 A screencast shows how to add an email avatar in Google Workspace


Google Workspace allows users with different addresses belonging to the same email domain to have unique profile pictures. It’s useful when you send multiple newsletters and want each newsletter to have its unique email avatar.

Selzy has a blog digest and a newsletter with product updates for users. These emails, including work emails from the team members, come from the same selzy.com domain but each type has a different avatar.


On mobile devices, you can see email avatars in the Gmail app right in the inbox; they also appear in push notifications. On the desktop, they appear only inside opened emails.

A screencast shows that the Buzzfeed logo is only seen if you click to open the email from Buzzfeed Shopping.

Outlook

On the Outlook home page, click on the avatar at the top of the page, choose Edit profile, and add or change the profile picture in the settings. It will only show up in the mobile apps and inside opened emails on the desktop.


Although Outlook is a big email provider, not many seem to use it to the fullest. The same brands and newsletters we covered earlier in the article don’t have a profile picture in Outlook. Then again, even Outlook’s support team doesn’t have one.

In Outlook, emails from Mike Allen, Morning Brew, and Buzzfeed are displayed with auto-generated avatars despite having custom avatars in other email clients.


Go to Yahoo’s main page and, depending on the platform (desktop, web app, or mobile), change the profile picture to your liking. Default Yahoo avatars are stylized letters of the sender’s name, but you can always replace them with a profile picture.

 In a Yahoo inbox, emails from Axios and Evgenia have differently stylized bold-colored letters as avatars.


Once you set a profile picture, you can’t remove it and revert to stylized letters — you can only replace it with a new one. Your email avatar will be displayed in all Yahoo services — for example, in Yahoo! News comment section. Some users can choose to not see senders’ profile pictures in their inboxes and have the profile pictures replaced with checkboxes for a more minimalistic look.

Apple Mail

Having your brand’s logo displayed in Apple Mail is not possible unless subscribers decide to assign it by themselves. They have to create a new contact from the email address, and then choose to add a photo to get to set up an avatar — which can be any picture. The senders won’t see them.

By default, Apple Mail shows an auto-generated profile pic with the letters but the avatar can be anything a recipient wants it to be. For example, an owl memoji.

Avatar vs BIMI

One more way to add an email avatar is BIMI or Brand Indicators for Message Identification. The result will be the same —  your email profile picture will be in place — however, with BIMI, you get logos and better protection for your recipients from phishing attacks.


BIMI is a method of email authentication, in addition to DKIM, DMARC, and SPF. “In addition” is the keyword — to get BIMI, you need to set up the DMARC authentication first.


From that perspective, getting BIMI sounds like a good thing to do, but there’s a “but” — it costs at least $1,299 per year. That’s because you have to buy a digital certificate that proves you own your logo as a trademark. That’s a bummer for businesses that don’t have twelve hundred bucks to spend on a 32 KB image.


Moreover, BIMI is not universally supported yet. As of May 2024, Microsoft doesn’t even plan to implement it, and some email clients like Yahoo! Japan, Seznam.cz, Comcast, and Qualitia are only considering it. So, if the majority of your audience is not in the US, getting BIMI might simply be not worth it.

Email Avatar vs Gravatar

Gravatar occasionally pops up in conversations about email avatars. However, you can’t set an avatar for a mailbox provider (Gmail or Yahoo) with Gravatar because it is meant for a different use.


Gravatar is a service that helps you automatically set profile pictures, contact details, and even a short bio for websites on WordPress and a handful of services that are heavily used in the work setting, like Atlassian products, Slack, and GitHub.


Gravatar is especially useful with WordPress websites since it saves you from the trouble of uploading a profile picture each time you want to leave a comment on a new WordPress website.


Here’s what the setup process looks like:

  1. Sign up on Gravatar with your email address.


  2. Upload an image or a photo you like.


  3. Going forward, you’ll have your profile picture displayed on every WordPress website or supported service, provided you sign up with the same email address as on Gravatar.

Key Takeaways

  • Avatars help emails stand out and impact the open rate. Unique logos look more pronounced than generic ones, recipients also trust them more.


  • You can add company logos or your photos for email avatars. Your company will stand out in subscribers’ inboxes while a photo helps subscribers immediately recognize who sent the email.


  • Email avatars are only seen within the same mailbox provider. Create a corporate account in each mailbox provider and set an avatar. Otherwise, if you only have Gmail with a logo, your Outlook subscribers won’t see it.


  • Use BIMI to add logos and improve security but be ready to pay. BIMI gives you a trademark logo and protection from phishing attacks. It costs at least $1,299 a year while avatars without BIMI are free.