Pick a Badge

Don't Be a General

There’s a marketing principle called “the paradox of choice.” Essentially, more than 2 choices means people will be more inclined to do nothing. We do great with “this or that,” but not great with “here are five options.” Sure, we can do it, but it’s not a native mental process.

Your email signature, more often than not, has grown. It looks like this:

Jennifer McSomebodyImportant
Director, Really Important Projects With Names That Don’t Make Sense
51 Brilliant Drive #808
GorgeousCity, XX 93100
Office: 814.555.0181
Cell: 814.222.1148
Phone Near the Bathroom: 814.202.2222


Check out our blog! http://bigcompany.com/blog

And then the social links:
Don't Be a General

Okay, Now What?

You did it because you wanted to show that you were very accessible. What you’ve told your receiver, however, doesn’t translate well. It most definitely doesn’t tell them how you prefer to be reached. It also is a lot to absorb, and so people tend to discard what they can’t absorb.

So, maybe pick 2, 3 at the most:

Physical address, if that matters.
Phone or email.
One social network.

And that’s about it.

Why? Again, we’re looking to eliminate a choice problem. Make it super streamlined.

Try it. You’ll appreciate the difference. More importantly, your customers will.

ChrisBrogan.com runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Adrian_atkinson

    You are partly right.

    The whole host of text is pointless and offputting, but having a choice of 5 or 6 social media buttons is perfectly fine (assuming they are sensibly sized, unlike above), in fact it’s often necessary as customers respond better to seeing the logo that they favour.  Restricting it to one is a stupid move that is bad for business.

    Generally I would go with 4 items for a non-personal type comms

    * Name
    * Position/Expertise/Affiliation as applicable to the content
    * Single Web Link (Any further links you think are important should be obvious from here)
    * Media Links

    For more personal type comms, by that I mean business comms but on a personal level, after an initial contact is made then swap the links out for a telephone number.

  • Katie Davis

    Once again, I thank you, Chris. I cracked up because, yes, my sig has grown. I will probably go with 2 or 3 choices because *I* can’t choose what to lose!

  • http://www.tictwo.com/ Internships in China

    It’s getting to the stage where a website will need a social media page just to list where they are :)

  • http://thefranchiseking.com/about-joel-libava-the-franchise-king The Franchise King

    Thanks for the streamlined suggestion, Mchris :)


  • http://www.WhatDidEricSay.com Eric Miltsch

    Interesting approach.

    (you’re still providing 8 choices among your sharing options within your feedburner account in the footer – I’ve never clicked on one of those in anyone’s email b/c of the # of choices)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      I wonder if I have control over that. I will check and make a change. :)

  • http://twitter.com/barryharvey Barry Harvey

    I tend to agree with Chris. What are people going to do with 4 or 5 social media buttons – connect with you on all of them. If the arguement is that they will pick the one they prefer, it only works if that is also a medium you use a lot.

    So then, the arguement might go, if your customers are on it, you should be too. With which I would agree. Except I know what media my customers are on. So should everyone – know their customers that is, not mine!

    Most of my prospects email or phone, ocassionally some enquire through LinkedIn. What more do I need? I will be changing my email signature!

  • Joshua Guffey

    Sure — the example is extreme. I think that limiting what isn’t usually relevant or useful is always good. I’d look and reducing also, starting with the text. Shrink your icons, pick a single URL and be done. #2cents

    [BTW--I found it highly ironic that upon clicking 'Post as...' to post this comment I was confronted with a myriad of choices. See the attached image for a giggle at Brogan's expense. ;]

  • http://propertyagents.co/real-estate-lead-generation-course Muhammad Ayaz

    Well I agree with you Chris and I thought having social icons at the end of your signature for me bit awkard to have instead at the footer or somewhere in sidebar that’s looks fine.

    Thanks for sharing great post again. :-)

  • http://www.davidpmariano.com/ Dave Mariano


  • http://raulcolon.net/ Raul Colon

    I was thinking of this and I guess I saw how your email signature has very limited options. 

    I also went ahead and made the change. Following up how I always see your signature the other day I made a recommendation to someone who is trying to provide as much information in an email as possible. 

    I also try to take the email signature out if its a reply! 

  • http://www.danieldecker.net/ Daniel Decker

    That’ll preach! : ) Simplicity is important and necessary, especially in a world that is so cluttered. We should help people navigate through the noise, not add more noise to it. We need to keep the end-user in mind and make it simple for them to get what they need and, if appropriate, take action.

  • weinada

    Nice Post. Absolutely agree. The same problem occurs on many websites and at the end of blog entries, etc. So many badges to “help share” but it’s overwhelming (particularly for those not yet fully engaged in social media) and cluttered. Simplify.

  • http://www.theresaceniccola.com/ Theresa Ceniccola

    Great point, Chris. The email signature is getting out of hand. You forgot the tagline in your example, by the way:-) 

    But I agree – fewer choices is easier for the customer and if they prefer one channel over another, they will seek you out there. 

    And I agree with Raul on taking the email sig out on a reply! 

    Thanks for the reminder to streamline. 

  • Michael Franzwa

    the way for a recipient to get back with me when I send them an email is for them to press “reply”.
    I just put my name at the bottom of the message.

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley


    This is such a simple yet important concept that I’ve struggling with as I’ve matured with my Digital Presence.

    The propensity is to want to expand when it seems like, Online and probably off, consolidating is the true path to a successful endeavor. 

    Consolidation is going to be my main focus moving forward this summer so I can get back to what I truly love doing… Creating Content that Delivers Value First…

    As always Thank You.

    Ryan H.

  • mariahhumphries

    Thanks Chris for another good one. I like simplicity and have been torn to do more with my signature because I see so many layering the info on. Most times their actual name is the minor player to the array of fonts, font sizes, and colors on signatures. Let’s hope people who choose to scale down will even out the bling too:) Again, great post.

  • http://golfreviewscaddie.com/ Walt Goshert

    We don’t need all these stinkn’ badges!

  • http://youtube.com/user/tommyisastrategist Tommy Walker

    Streamlining signature now…

  • http://twitter.com/munnerlynpeter Peter Munnerlyn

    Have you thought about measuring the amount of clicks you get for these “social” badges?  I did.  I added Google Url Shorteners to three badges at the beginning of last year.  After 1.5 years and 10,000+ emails, I got a total of… wait for it… 1 click:)  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not anywhere near as influential as you so your results may be different… I’d be curious to hear about your results though.

  • http://BonnieChomica.com Bonnie Chomica

    K.I.S.S. If you have a call to action in your message, leave it at that. Don’t distract people with more options. 

  • http://www.themakegoodchoicesproject.org/ Michael Hawkins

    Good stuff, Chris. 

    Some e-mail signatures I’ve seen take up more room than the the actual message. 



  • http://luredtofishing.com/ Petr R.

     Streamlining signature now…

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  • http://www.knealemann.com Kneale Mann




    for pointing this


    to many who

    may need to



    very problem.

  • http://WiltonBlake.com Wilton Blake

    “Phone Near the Bathroom” Hilarious!

  • http://win-warhammer-40k.blogspot.com/ Adam

    Actually, this is a really good point -and not just for personal signatures, but for websites in general. 

    I’m going to roll with Facebook for my wargames site, because that’s where the community lives. Few seem to truly bother with Twitter or G+.

    Thanks for making me aware of a problem and its solution that was right under my nose!

  • http://www.shonaeaston.com/ Shona Easton

    Great point Chris. When the email signiture is longer than the email content, that is just silly!

  • http://CreativeJourneyman.com Nando

    Yeah, I’ve sinned. And I should know better. What is it? Something to prove?

    (joining the streamlining train…)

  • http://CreativeJourneyman.com Nando

    Oh, and I’m so vain, I though this article was about me. ;-)

  • http://www.rachaltarquin.4ormat.com/ Rachal Tarquin

    Thank you Chris for saying what others are afraid to say. Here’s to hoping more people start to listen to your advice. Another job well done!

  • David Chism

    I’ve been trimminf my signature for years. After reading this, I’ll stop trimming and give my signature a marine haircut.

  • http://twitter.com/AzHip MaryLynne Christman

    Definately guilty of too many.  Fixing.  Thanks

  • http://www.communicationskillsactivities.net/ Steve’s Public Speaking Tips

    It reminds me of a line in a U2 song that says “In New York freedom looks like too many choices”

    I have to wonder if this is a human nature issue or a consequence of living in a polarized society. We have two main political parties, for example, where others have many more significant parties. Is this true around the world or more true in the US?

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  • http://alwayswellwithin.com/ Sandra Pawula

    Thanks for verifying my hunch and personal experience.  Do you think this is true on websites and blogs too?

  • http://CreativeJourneyman.com Nando

    You know what? I like my (hyper) streamlined signature better now.

  • http://www.jeromeibuyan.blogspot.com/ Jerome Ibuyan

    Less is more.

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