DO-SAY-SEE © – how to build your brand

Is your brand attracting the right customers? Sapna Pieroux from InnerVisions ID explains how to build your brand using the DO-SAY-SEE © model. 

You’re looking for a certain product or service. You go to a company’s website or pick up a brochure. The logo is rubbish, the photography is cheesy, the styling is dated – and aaargh! Typos!

In just a few seconds, you’ve made up your mind – to look elsewhere.

Now consider your own brand: your logo, imagery, business cards, website, social media and brochures. When your potential clients find you online, is what they see helping you win business – or lose it?

Many entrepreneurs don’t fully understand the power of good design in attracting the right customers. But worse, they don’t realise how bad – or no – design can actually lose them business.

Hey – it’s not anyone’s fault – most people aren’t that design-literate. (That’s because our education system does not value or invest in the arts but don’t get me on that soapbox!)

However, if you want to be seen as professional and charge your worth, you need to learn about, value and invest in your branding.

How I developed the InnerVisions ID DO-SAY-SEE © model

I was asked to write a chapter for the Amazon #1 best-selling Fit For Purpose Leadership 2. Doing my research, I found very little that talked about branding for business leaders the way I approached it: aligning it with their business goals and visions.

In my time, I’ve spoken with hundreds of entrepreneurs. I’ve seen a pattern in how they build their businesses. I’ve identified the big mistake so many make – and seen my methodology give them brand clarity, confidence and accelerated business growth.

I created the InnerVisions ID DO-SAY-SEE © model to illustrate the three pillars needed in order to build your brand: what you DO for others, what you SAY to them and what they SEE. Here’s how it works.

1) DO

When you start a business, it’s natural to spend your time focusing on what you DO: your why, passion or calling; the problem you are solving; the products or services that you’ll sell, to whom and how you’ll do this. Your DO is essentially how you will make a difference, so it is vital to nail this aspect before anything else

2) SAY

Next, entrepreneurs usually focus on how to communicate their business. SAY encompasses the written or spoken word. It is everything from your business name and strapline to your elevator pitch and the talks you give. It’s the copy in your website, brochure, social media, articles and books.

You will work on honing this message by reading business books, investing in mentors, coaches or copywriters, checking out the competition or watching the pros.

3) SEE

Your SEE is everything visual about your company. Time and time again, I see this third, crucial pillar not prioritised nor given equal attention and importance to the other two. Poor old SEE is often DIY’d, done on the cheap or briefed out last-minute, an afterthought.

Yet SEE is often the first touchpoint for your potential clients. That’s your logo, the styling and ‘feel’ of your website, brochures and business cards, your photography, colours, typography, illustrations, patterns.

It’s how you present yourself and the environment you conduct business in – Starbucks or a members’ club? (NB Branding will also affect your SAY, your brand voice and personality – another reason to not leave this till last!

Use DO-SAY-SEE © to build an authentic brand

When your DO-SAY-SEE © elements all work to support each other, that’s when you can truly build an authentic brand that resonates with others.

The red areas in our DO-SAY-SEE © model show the dangers when any one of these is out of sync:

What happens if you have NO DO

If your company looks great and promises you the world (SEE+SAY) but then fails to deliver, you have a business which is INSINCERE. It will disappoint, get bad reviews and you will lose business.

What happens if you have NO SAY

If you have an excellent product or service and great image to match (DO+SEE) but you can’t articulate your value, then you will be INCOHERENT to your potential customers. They won’t clearly and easily understand what you do, they’ll seek help elsewhere, and again you’ll lose business.

What happens if you have NO SEE

If you have a great DO+SAY, but then you hand over a scrappy business card or your website looks dated, you will turn off your clients in seconds. The #1 danger is that without SEE you become INVISIBLE and lose business to your more attractive-looking competitors.

Design without a brief is just a pretty picture

In my 24-year career, I have trained and worked not just as a graphic designer but in marketing and then in media sales, bringing national brands – such as Rimmel, Volkswagen and the Open University – to life in engaging, creative (and sometimes award-winning!) advertising campaigns.

This experience means I understand my clients’ business challenges better and that gives me a unique perspective and approach to branding their businesses.

I believe that if you brief any design that’s not aligned with your business goals and visions, you’ve basically commissioned a pretty picture.

Branding is about your company  ‘looking the part’, dressing it for the job you want. So what you SEE has to align with, support and strengthen what you SAY and DO.

DO-SAY-SEE © is backed by science

The other day, I read an excerpt from How to make people like you in 90 Seconds or Less by Nicholas Boothman (edited here):

“(The)…key to ensuring that people like and trust you is displaying a consistent and congruous message across your whole body, as inconsistencies will bother people.”


“…former UCLA psychology professor Albert Mehrabian …identified that credibility depends on …what you say, how you say it and your body language… If they’re not (aligned), your audience won’t feel you’re being honest…which diminishes your credibility and creates awkwardness.”

Mehrabian also came up with a formula I remembered from my sales presentation training years earlier:

  • 7% of understanding is in the words that are spoken.
  • 38% of understanding is the way that the words are said.
  • 55% of understanding is in facial expression/body language.

Customers are making decisions about your business in seconds

I was excited to realise that the reason my DO-SAY-SEE © model resonates and works so powerfully for our clients is that it is rooted in, and mirrors, human behaviour.

Since pre-historic times, we have been wired to seek visual clues first to understand the world. Cavemen would look to the horizon to see if it was a predator approaching, or prey. They’d check the colour of a fruit first to see if it was good to eat or likely to make them ill.

All before they heard a roar or sampled the goods.

You make a decision on whether you like someone in just a few seconds. Only then, might you make the effort to get to speak to them and get to know them better – and only then might you care to find out what they do.

The same rules apply to your business. Do I like the look of your company? Does it communicate to me? (And, only then) Can you solve my problem? SEE, SAY and DO…in that order.

Is it time to take a look at your branding? Discover more about your own DO-SAY-SEE. Contact InnerVisions ID for a free 30-minute brand consultation.

Photo by Henry & Co.