Images off? Use These 5 Tactics to Create On-Brand Emails Without Images

Email designers are fighting a constant battle. The battle of images. Depending on a user’s email client/webmail, device, and browser, an email can appear any number of ways. And according to Litmus, as many as 43% of emails are affected by image blocking.

What happens when none of your images show up? How will your customers know that your email is from your company?

Luckily for you, there are a handful of methods to keep your email on-brand even if images are disabled.


Balance Text and Images

First, you must make sure that your emails are balanced with text and images.

A lot of companies fall into an image trap, where they believe that an entire email can be made up of an image or a handful of them.

It’s easier to design and the viewer won’t notice…. Right?


Depending on the email service provider and the viewing client, that beautiful email, composed of solely images, could look almost completely empty – and decidedly not on brand.

You want to have your emails be made up of a blend of images and text. That way, no matter what settings, the email will look good.

Otherwise your email might look like this one… blank.


Alt Text and Styled Alt Text

Both alt text and styled alt text are important components of an email design that works with images disabled.

Use alt text to make sure that your audience knows your email is from you. Make sure that wherever you put your logo, you put alt text behind it with your business name.

This applies to any and all images. If you have a picture of a sale item, make sure there is specific and accurate alt text to describe what is there. Alt text is almost mandatory, as text to speech programs use them to describe images to the visually impaired.

To make it even better, you can color and style your alt text to match your brand using inline CSS styling. This means that even without your logo, it is likely that your audience will immediately recognize who is sending them email (without looking at the address bar).

Be warned though. Stylized alt text doesn’t show up in all browsers or on all email clients though, so be prepared for that possibility. It’s still worth doing though, as many web clients/browsers do support it.


Background Colors

Background colors allow for some color and design in emails without images. Using branded colors makes your emails recognizable. If your audience knows it’s you, they will be more likely to read through the email or even turn the images on.

When backing an image with a background color, try to mimic the original color scheme of those images. This will keep the email visually appealing. Background colors can also be used in creative ways to do more than just add some color to emails with the images off…

The colors can be a bit… picky, so make sure to pick colors that will actually work. Again, Litmus’s post on this is great.


Bulletproof Buttons

The first are what email marketers call “bulletproof buttons.” These are buttons composed of live text (a hyperlink) and background colors to create CTAs and the like that (almost) always work, no matter what the viewer’s setting.

These buttons are more fun than plain text links and will get users clicking better than plain text ever will. Obviously the better alternative would be image buttons, but when you are planning for the worst, bulletproof buttons are the way to go.

Remember to tailor the colors to your brand! There is a great tool by Campaign Monitor for creating buttons that rock.


Mosaics and Pixel Art

If you really want to get fancy with your image-off email design, then you can try creating mosaics and pixel art. This ambitious approach to “email images without images” involves using background colors and image slicing to create pictures with the images off.

It won’t be easy, but with some planning, background colors and lots and lots of nested tables, you can make an email that has a little design.

If you’re interested in taking on this challenge, this list contains some amazing examples of pixel art done right.

It’s important to prepare for the worst and hope for the best when it comes to designing emails. And in this case, the worst case scenario is a viewer that won’t see your images. Hopefully, armed with the tools relayed to you above, you’ll be able to create engaging emails even with the images off.



What are your favorite tricks for making awesome emails with images off? Have you even considered what your emails look like without images? Let us know what you think in the comments section.



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