two people looking at charts on a table
From an appealing and cohesive design to effectively maneuvering social media, the experts at Vistaprint explain how to best market your business's brand. — Getty Images/Sitthiphong

Most marketers have heard of the Rule of Seven. This principle was first introduced in 1987 by Dr. Jeffrey Lant in his book, "Money Making Marketing" (Jeffrey Lant Assocs). He wrote that a brand's message must touch a customer at least seven times over an 18-month period before they'll purchase that product or service.

A lot has changed about marketing in the 30-plus years since Lant first discussed the Rule of Seven. In the digital age, brands have more channels and touchpoints than ever to market to their audiences. It's possible for your brand to reach a customer seven or more times in a single day – and that's important when they're seeing thousands of other ads alongside yours. In fact, in 2015, one marketing executive counted nearly 500 ad exposures in his home before he even finished his breakfast.

With so much information bombarding your customer, your brand is competing for attention like never before. Now, more than ever, your marketing must stand out in the crowd. That means creating relevant, personalized and consistent messaging across all channels – both online and off. With a clear, focused message and a smart strategy, you can help customers remember your brand and keep coming back to you.

Vistaprint’s branding experts have deep expertise in creating effective messaging across the wide range of marketing channels serving customers today. Here, they share their six best practices for creating powerful and actionable branding.

1. Brand design

Every brand needs a consistent, professional "look" or aesthetic to share across all digital and non-digital platforms. This includes your logo, color scheme, fonts and any other assets that can visually express your desired brand voice.

Adam Charlton, a creative director at Vistaprint, said the keys to successful brand expression are authenticity and simplicity. Your logo and overall aesthetic should reflect your brand's essenceor personality, he said, so before you come up with design concepts, you should think about what makes your business special.

"This involves becoming aware of the 'why' behind the decisions you make and the way you conduct business," Charlton told CO—. "The things you will not compromise on often define your brand essence."

You should also seek to simplify your aesthetic – the simpler your design is, the easier it is to apply consistently, said Charlton.

"Don't try to force everything about your business into a logo," he added. "Instead, leverage other elements such as colors, photography, illustration and messaging to add life to your logo/brand."

2. “Marketing moments”

Every interaction with a potential customer is a "marketing moment." When those marketing moments happen in person, you'll want to give people a way to remember your brand long after your interaction is over.

That's why it's important to always have something a customer can take away with your brand on it. A business card is a good start, but once you have your logo, tagline, brand color scheme, etc., you can print it on a variety of physical items, such as flash drives, tote bags and coffee mugs that you can give away as gifts. You can also get a variety of paper products (letterheads, postcards, note cards) for when you communicate with clients/customers via the mail.

As Charlton mentioned, consistent branding across all assets, whether digital or physical, is essential if you want your customers to recognize you after these key marketing moments.

"There's value in varying supporting elements [of your branding] to suit the medium and audience, but ... maintaining the foundational elements will help you to build brand equity, familiarity and a consistent customer experience," he said.

Having photos of your storefront, your product, your employees and yourself will help prospects feel connected to you and your business.

Ryan Burke, senior product manager, Vistaprint

3. Email

Email marketing is known for its exceptionally high ROI, but only if you're following best practices and not appearing "spammy" to your subscribers. In your emails, it's wise to avoid long subject lines (keep it under 50 characters), too many fonts/colors, spelling/grammar errors and inconsistent offerings from one email to the next.

What you should include is relevant, compelling and creative messaging that is tailored specifically to your subscribers, said Becah Kaplan, an email marketing specialist for Vistaprint.

"The best thing about email marketing is that you have a captive audience who purposefully signed up for your emails," she said. "Use what you know about your customers, both on a one-to-one level and on an audience level, to craft emails that will matter to them."

When crafting your email strategy, Kaplan recommends taking a close look at your analytics to find the right balance of time and cadence to optimize your open and click-through rates.

"Analytics will help you to determine how often (weekly/daily/monthly), and what times (morning/afternoon/evening) drive engagement and lessen the likelihood of email opt-outs," she added.

4. SEO

When customers are looking for an answer to a question, or to discover a new product or service, one of the first places they'll often turn to is a search engine, said Michelle Levine, a Vistaprint organic search manager. Prioritizing organic search efforts for your business's website will help new and existing customers find your business in those search results.

"Having an organic search strategy established will help your business with quick wins and long-term success in getting discovered and keeping up with the competition," Levine told CO—.

Being found organically on search engines requires targeting the right keywords and following best SEO practices, said Levine. This includes using target keywords in your URL and sprinkled throughout your website. There are several meta tags that should be included in your site as well. You should also set up local business profiles, including Google My Business and Bing Places, to reach your audience through location-based queries.

Finally, Levine recommended establishing link earning efforts and partnerships to help your site build authority.

5. Website

Your business's website is often the first impression customers will get. It's important to ensure that your other marketing assets are consistent with what's on your website – fonts, colors, photos, logos, headers, etc. Even more important is determining the right content to include on your website.

Ryan Burke, a senior product manager for Vistaprint, said the best question to ask yourself when designing your brand's website is what you want a prospective customer to do. Do you want them to call you? Find your address? Place an order? No matter what your goal is, Burke recommended keeping your contact information (including social media links) front and center so your customers can easily get in touch. You should also provide engaging, real-world content that gives visitors an inside look at your brand.

"Having photos of your storefront, your product, your employees and yourself will help prospects feel connected to you and your business," said Burke.

Remember, a website is not a "one-and-done" project; your site needs to continually evolve with your business. However, that doesn't mean you have to do a complete overhaul all at once – it's good to update content in small bits, Burke said.

"If you hire a new employee or have a new product, you’ll want to update your website accordingly," he added.

6. Social

Social media has become a broad landscape of opportunity to engage with customers, build consideration of brands and products, and drive sales, said Robin Vancura, senior manager of global content marketing for Vistaprint.

With many existing and emerging social media platforms to choose from, it's important for brands to choose the right ones to focus on. This means understanding where your audience is and what they want to see on each channel. Above all else, you should have an overall objective before developing content for your social media accounts, said Vancura.

While it's important to have a clear call to action in each social media post, Vancura recommended only asking the customer to do one thing at a time.

"For example, you can ask them to watch your video, comment, share or click through for more information," she said. "But you shouldn’t ask them to do multiple things, because you only have seconds to make that connection or impression."

If you're just launching your social media strategy, don't feel pressured to post every single day; instead, Vancura advised creating a calendar for yourself and defining a posting schedule that works for you and your brand.

"Start with one to two posts a week and see how it goes," she said. "Build the discipline around posting [regularly] ... so that your customers start to become accustomed to seeing your brand on social."

In terms of what to post, Vancura said it's wise to create a portfolio of posts and see what people are responding to. Then, you can create more content like that.

"If you start to build your brand voice on social, it will become easier to come up with ideas," Vancura added.

Putting your marketing plan into practice

If you're trying to reach customers through these six touchpoints, it's essential to have a solid plan in place for doing so. By following these best practices, you'll improve your chances of leaving a lasting impression on potential buyers, whether they hear your message seven times or 700.