Ten ways to brand compliance

To encourage people to behave in a certain way you must first change the way they perceive compliance. The method by which you communicate parts of your programme will shape the way compliance is perceived throughout the organisation. A compliance programme is just like any product out there – you want people to pay attention to it and have it at the forefront of their minds when they are making decisions at work.

Those of you who have already rolled out your compliance programmes will have realised that it is more than just writing up some policies and putting them up on the intranet. This article will illustrate ways that you can increase the effectiveness of your compliance communications by giving your programme a brand.

1.         Build a brand around your compliance programme

A brand is more than a logo and a colour scheme; it is a concept that you create in the mind of the audience. Give your compliance programme a brand which encapsulates its essence.


  • Australian mining giant Rio Tinto relaunched its global code of conduct as “The way we work” to represent the way it expects its employees to behave when representing the company. They describe “The way we work”as their conscience.
  • American company Applied Materials brands their compliance programme with the tagline “Ethics, Everyone, Every Day”.


2.         Brand your reporting hotline

Make the reporting hotline easily accessible and lessen the intimidation factor by branding the reporting hotline. Some ways you could do this are:

  • giving the hotline a name
  • providing international toll-free numbers for your global offices
  • giving people the option to report anonymously
  • making the follow-up process transparent
  • reassuring whistleblowers by promoting a non-retaliation policy.


  • Hitachi Data Systems’ reporting hotline has an easy to remember number: 1 877 HDS ETHX.
  • Siemens calls their compliance help desk “Tell us” and outlines a transparent follow-up process.
  • Rio Tinto has branded their internal whistleblower programme “Speak-OUT”. A poster campaign was launched promoting the hotline’s accessibility (the hotline has international toll-free numbers operating 24/7, an option to anonymously report and a non-retaliation policy). Stickers advertising the numbers were placed on company phones.

3.         Revamp your code of conduct

If your company code of conduct looks like pages out of a Leo Tolstoy novel (and was last updated at around the same time Tolstoy was writing novels) it may be worth revisiting its contents, as well as its look and feel.

Easy ways to make your company code of conduct more approachable include:

  • keeping the substantive wording of the content, but personalising the tone by using more encouraging, rather than directive, language
  • adding a personal message from leadership, such as the CEO, general counsel or chief compliance officer, with a photo and a signature
  • adding a question and answer section at the end of every topic which contains practical scenario-based examples
  • updating the look and feel using new imagery and design elements.


4.         Create a compliance “toolkit”

One of the most important things about branding is keeping the brand consistent. Package your compliance tools into a “toolkit” to distribute to various country managers and business unit heads. This way, you ensure that the deliverables and training content contain consistent messaging and branding.

Items for your compliance toolkit might include:

  • compliance training PowerPoint slides to be presented by business managers
  • links to the latest code of conduct, policies and procedures
  • campaign tools such as posters, hand outs and brochures.


5.         Partner with other company programmes

There’s no need to reinvent a whole new compliance campaign if there are other initiatives which are already happening at your company. Are there other corporate social responsibility programme campaigns with which you can partner your compliance campaign? If so, you can consider sharing campaign
resources, taglines and internal marketing initiatives.


6.         Avoid “death by PowerPoint”

You should always vie for a speaking spot at a company quarterly or annual meeting to talk about compliance; however, don’t waste the opportunity by overly-long PowerPoint presentation which no one is listening to as they are bored and have tuned out. Use the chance to give an engaging presentation, and speak about the relevance of compliance to the business and to everybody in the room.


The Red Flag Group recently helped a multi-billion dollar healthcare company facilitate an interactive compliance session at their 2013 Leadership Conference. Attendees used polling devices to participate in a live tally of the potential cost of numerous compliance “disasters”. They were also able to add up the value of good compliance to mitigate the loss. At the very end, they were able to see the direct financial impact of great compliance.

Cost of non-compliance : $45,750,000


7.         Have the CEO speak about compliance at a company event

An excellent way to demonstrate the business’s commitment to compliance is to have senior management speak about it in public. See if you can have the CEO talk about some compliance initiatives during their presentation at the next quarterly or annual meeting.


8.         Quote leadership on compliance

Another way to demonstrate tone from the top is to quote senior management in your compliance campaign. You could get the quotes by writing to the board to obtain them. You may want to provide some examples as guidance so that the quotes you get back actually inspire thinking.

Once you have the quotes you could then collate them and include them in designed and printed out compliance pocket guides or similar. This publication could then be handed out at a company annual meeting, for example.



9.         Quote middle management on compliance

In line with the current trend to obtain “tone from the middle”, why not also ask middle management for quotes on compliance.

Little cards could be included inside the compliance pocket guides for people to write down what they thought about compliance. The quotes written on the cards could then be published in an advertisement for compliance, such as a poster.


10.         Utilise company newsletters and publications

Speak to your internal communications department to see how compliance initiatives can be published in newsletters or other publications – even better, see if you can obtain a regular spot in a publication. If your company does not have a regular publication (nor an internal communications department), design your own compliance communication channels. Create a spot on the intranet home page, or plan out quarterly compliance email memos.

Remember, a compliance programme is just like any product out there. If your campaign is starting to look like a marketing campaign, then you are on the right track.

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