ImageIf your in-box is anything like ours, you see more e-blasts, e-zines, e-updates and e-ditorials than an aardvark sees ants. But how many of them stand out?

True, we find a useful nugget of info here, a charming anecdote there – in fact, most of the mass missives we receive have a lot to recommend them. But a few go above and beyond, fulfilling their missions with flying colors. So feast your eyes on some of our favorite e-newsletters. They all boast certain quintessential attributes:
  • a distinctive voice that cements the brand
  • pithy, interesting information
  • a lively layout
  • interactivity
But they all combine these elements in unique ways.

The Colorado Wine Company is a festive wine shop and wine bar located in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles; the joint's regular tastings draw crowds of the size and style you might expect at a rock club, which is unsurprising given such themed uncorkings as "The White Trash Wine Tasting," with its pairings of Chardonnay with potato chips and Pinot Gris with "Le Pig in Blanket."

ImageThe merchant's weekly newsletter, meanwhile, is as effervescent and flavorful as a sparkling Shiraz and consumed just as quickly. Owners John and Jennifer Nugent tell their tales of the grape with self-deprecating humor and genuine passion, calling out to local oenophiles not merely as customers but also as a community.

Sparing with text (articles are typically no longer than a couple of sentences), generous with graphics and playful in tone, the broadside includes regular polls on such topics as whether wine-expert talk about elderberries and wood smoke in the Cabernet Franc is "total b.s." or just "partly b.s.," and men's fear of appearing unmasculine by ordering a white. "We asked about your hang-ups with white wine," reads a recent installment of CoWineCo's "Polling Booth" section. "7% of you said 'all white wines taste the same' (this breaks my heart ... I want to adopt you like lost kittens and then make you drink bottle after bottle of great white wine ... just like I do when I adopt actual lost kittens)."

Most bands with any degree of career savvy know that a newsletter is the best way to maintain and refresh their relationship with their audience. The L.A. trio A.i., however, goes the extra mile.

ImageConstantly reinforcing band brand imagery such as their logo and the punchy design and colors of their current album, Sex & Robots, a recent issue of the neo-new-wave group's newsletter starts with an interactive feature: Fans are invited to post reviews of the CD on iTunes. A few sample reviews follow, emphasizing fan love and further promoting the disc. Next comes an ingeniously designed flowchart of radio stations that have given A.i. a few spins, complete with phone numbers and, where available, online request links and e-mail addresses so fans can keep up the pressure. Then comes an announcement for an upcoming festival appearance, some dynamic photos from a recent gig, and a sign-off from the band promising a new video and updates to the official site and online store.

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photo by Kiino Villand
All this may sound obvious, but it's amazing how many artists don't understand the importance of such communication. A.i.'s fleet, stylish, visually striking and impeccably interactive newsletter should be a model for all entertainers who can't rely on a major corporation to do their marketing.

TKDA Monthly, the regular e-letter from The Keva Dine Agency (which reps artists, designers, art directors, copywriters, execs and other players in the advertising and branding world), is some tasty eye candy. Each issue spotlights an "Artist of the Month," upcoming shows, and context-specific rants and raves. For example:
What's your latest obsession? Lately I've been digging broken photos. Light leaks, broken shutters, chemical mixture problems, etc. You get some really awesome results when things go horribly wrong.
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Kelly Blumberg / Superhellcat.com
This is a fine example of how a quick observation can help preserve the conversational character of a newsletter, underscore the brand, and give readers something to chew on and, most importantly, remember.

But the visuals are what really stick, and TKDA's sensual use of color and adventurous design instincts are key to the e-zine's appeal. After all, not everyone who receives a newsletter is going to read it; but even if they just take a quick peek, they're more likely to be drawn in by bright hues and arresting images.

Which newsletters do you read regularly? Are there any you actually look forward to? What do you like best about them? We want to know these things, so clog up our inbox: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .'; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text75421 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it