“Cool, thanks for this. I’ll definitely pretend to read it.”
- your employees, getting your latest compliance guidance.
[UPDATE: we heard you! Go here to find out how to get the icons.]
Be honest: that’s what your employees actually say.
Just not to your face.
Because that’s what you said to Bob from IT when he sent the latest email archiving policy to you.
(Just not to his face.)
Here’s the reality: we all believe that if someone really wants us to understand something, they’ll make it simple.
They’ll cut down the text.
They’ll write it in plain English.
They’ll make it obviously useful and applicable to us.
And if they really, truly want us to understand it?
They’ll use an icon.
Because icons work.
That's how you know exactly what these subway signs are telling you to do—even before you realize none of them are in English.
Or why you see these "no gun" icons on the entrance to buildings everywhere in Texas. The law only requires the text—but people know that they need an icon if they really want folks to comply.
Or how you can figure out what this sign is saying—even if you speak no Italian.
And the reason why is simple: icons let you understand what you need to know at a glance. They don’t decorate; they explain.
And now, for the first time, they’re available for compliance and ethics.
And they're not just visuals. They come complete with defined meanings, so you can quickly build dynamic, simple content.
And because they have defined meanings, they get even easier for your employees to use over time. They'll see them again and again, and they'll get faster and faster at recognizing them—which makes it easier and easier for them to know what to do.
And you can only get them from Broadcat.
Why you need icons—not just visuals.
Now, to be clear: these are icons.
Not pictures, or illustrations, or graphics. Icons.
(Or if you want to get real technical, pictograms.)
And that isn’t just designer-talk. This distinction matters, because most visuals do not make things simpler. They just add more noise.
Let me say that again: most of the photographs, illustrations, and videos that people use for compliance and ethics training do nothing to clarify what people need to do.
They’re just bolted-on noise that don't help anyone know how to do their job compliantly—which is the entire point of compliance training.
These icons, however, are different.
For example, here's a page from our icon dictionary.
See the "How To Use This" section? That's because these aren't just pictures: they have defined meanings.
We tell you how to use them—and how they shouldn't be used, so you can keep the icons straight.
And that means that they do not bolt on to your guidance; they integrate into it. And they do not decorate your text; they help you replace it.
And because we have created standard meanings, they get more useful over time. Your employees get faster at reading and understanding your guidance because they are able to rely on icons they recognize and understand to help them know what to do.
Just like how you see icons at airports and in hotels and on the freeway and immediately know what to do, because you've seen them enough to know exactly what they mean.
That's the power of icons.
Here’s what we did.
Making something simple is tough—because you're hiding all the complexity from your audience. So to give you a sense of how much work these "simple" icons will do for you, here's what it took to make them.
We reviewed everything in our Library—all 300+ pieces—to map out concepts that were frequently used. That made this an exercise in what was actually useful, not just picking concepts that sounded good.
And it involved a monster spreadsheet.
And we created a universal color palette, so that the icons—and our pieces—would look like a cohesive whole, so you could pick any two at random and they'd work together.
And of course, we drafted the illustrations for the icons themselves.
And then we reviewed and refined and debated them, over and over, until they were right. Here's a little bit of what this looked like for our Conflicts of Interest icon.
We also created design conventions—think "rules for how things should look"—so the icons work together as a whole.
We then minimized the visual concepts, creating more complex icons by adding together elements from simpler ones—so that employees would have fewer concepts to see and be able to recognize them faster.
And we standardized definitions for each icon—both describing what they meant, and what they didn’t mean. That's because visuals are only useful if people know what they mean, and that requires that they be used consistently.
And in addition to our full-color, using-our-color-palette version, we created single-color, high-contrast versions to allow for easy printing.
We then put all of this together into a visual dictionary that lets you drag-and-drop the icons right off of each page into whatever you need. Here's what it looks like to drag one into a just-in-time email reminder.
We then sorted the pages of the dictionary into categories so it’d be easy for you to get an overview of all the icons.
And then we added an index too, so it’s easy to find your favorites.
And then we redid every piece in our Library that used one of the concepts captured in the icons.
And finally, we double-checked that the way we’d defined the icons synced with every instance of them appearing in the Library—so the icons and the other 300+ pieces in our Library are fully modular.
Again, another spreadsheet.
And then when we finally finished them last month, we told our customers about them.
And now, the world.
How they'll transform your program.
The point of having icons is to use them consistently and frequently. When you do that, you’ll create an environment where it’s easy for employees to scan and understand your content—and that’s not just limited to your training.
So here’s how you'll use them.
You can put them in your Code of Conduct and policies, so employees can easily scan for what to do.
You can drop them in newsletters and blog posts to make your ad hoc guidance and communications easier to read.
You can put them in your live training, so your slides will actually help people understand what you're saying and create visual memories—instead of just being a wall of text.
You can put them in your approval and disclosure forms to make them more readable and less intimidating.
How about a Conflict of Interest disclosure form, for example, that actually looks like it syncs up with your guidance about how it's not a big deal to disclose a conflict to the company?
You can insert them into workflows, so that people can get a just-in-time email or notification triggered by something they're doing in your system.
For example, let's say you've just submitted a travel request for a project that's been flagged for government involvement. What if your travel system sent you an email like this?
And, of course—if you’re old school—you can put them in training and load them up into an LMS module.
In reality, you can use them for anything where you’d otherwise use the text that they replace. These icons just make it faster and easier for employees to identify what to do—and it gets even faster and even easier the more they see them.
What are you waiting for?
For a long time, compliance content has been a little Jekyll-and-Hyde.
You’ve got “stuff we licensed from vendors” and “stuff we made ourselves,” and those things usually look totally different.
You spend $200,000 on a massive Code of Conduct program, and then the training for your sales team is a bunch of clip art that Gary from HR put together for you 20 minutes before you walked into the meeting.
And Gary’s great.
But you know that’s sending a jacked-up message to your employees. They’re hearing “we really care about this fancy all-employee stuff, not so much about the stuff that's actually relevant to your job.”
When your program is a patchwork of things that look and mean different things, you set up your employees to fail—because they have to approach every single thing you do from ground zero. They can’t rely on anything they already know, because the different parts of your program aren’t in sync.
They have to interpret everything you tell them from a clean slate, and the burden of figuring out how it all fits together and applies to their job falls to them. And that’s an impossibly complex burden for them to bear.
Our icon set fixes that.
It creates consistency. And that matters, because when your messaging is consistent, employees learn where to look for what’s important, see if it applies to them, and take action.
It becomes more useful every time they use it. And that makes them more likely to comply.
So what are you waiting for?