I was thinking over the comments to this post and my brain started whirling. The original post was about the stylish way that Michael Wagner signs off his emails, and in one of the comments, Ann Handley suggested that it is important to remember the small things that make a big difference, such as signatures and sign-offs.
When I send an email, I always try and sign-off in some specific way. I will use "regards" when I want a formal but friendly ending. I use "cheers" when the spirit of the email is collaborative or when emailing personal friends. I hardly ever use "kind regards" … always seems a bit girly to me. Yet I wonder how many of my mail recipients ever notice the sign-off and the subtle differences.
As I ruminated on this, it reminded me of an IM chat that I had recently with a good friend in Hong Kong, the charming Sandy Fung. I had asked her to test something for me … a web link, if I recall correctly, and she had sent me through her comments and ideas. I had just thanked her and she responded again, "my pleasure". It made me smile. It made me remember more than a collection of words … there was a flood of memories and the sound of laughter … this small remark brought the conversation to life.
It is the little things like this that are important … for brands, for communications, for work and for living life. It is the little things, the day-to-day traces of personality that make us all stand out from the crowd. They may be small but they are important … they give us our distinction.