A client is requesting that I illustrate a concept for a brochure. The literal verbiage that was provided to me was "Be Intentional and Transparent In Our Communications & Decision-making."

It's a very precise concept, and I am wondering what symbol(s) I can use to convey it clearly without it being too ambiguous.

The icon below conveys the concept of listening quite well. However, it's also a bit forceful, and conveys that someone is shouting in your ear. However, I feel the ear clearly represents the concept of someone listening, or at least hearing -- albeit the clarity of that communication is left inferred. Also, there is too much going on in this icon for me to be happy with it. How could I make it simpler yet say more? enter image description here

I like this because you instantly get the sense that there's a good conversation being had. However, I just feel like it's not enough. There's nothing to show speech, other than the posture of the two figures. Additionally, it feels a bit too causal and a bit too busy. I feel like having the two figures sitting is too much detail and and be done away with.

enter image description here

Ignoring the "$" in the speech bubble, what I like about this is that two people are saying the same thing, so they both are on the same page. However, I'm unsure if this denotes that either one is listening to the other. This, I would argue, denotes agreement more than clear communication.

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Something I feel is a must is that the icon should also function in the inverse. Meaning that if someone were to cross it out, or be slightly reconfigured into some sort of opposite, then the opposite meaning would instantly be inferred, which in this instance would be "unclear communication"

enter image description here

  • 1
    The irony here is that you're trying to use an inherently ambiguous device for a brochure on "clear communication." Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 23:57
  • @RandallStewart: noted
    – invot
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 18:59

2 Answers 2


I particularly liked this icon from Gallop Management showing the flow of clear communication. Clear communication requires the receiver to repeat back the message in their own words to ensure understanding. It's a only way to be sure a message was received accurately. I think I would prefer it revised with speech bubbles.

Clear Communication Icon from Gallop Management


I think that a mind mapping exercise may serve you in coming up with some new ideas. Place the words "Clear Communication" at the center of your map, brainstorm, and write as many different examples and synonyms as you can around the central concept. Then, pick the best few ideas, and have a go at sketching them.

You should also look to collect some great examples of communication in stock photos and existing ads, there are tons online. Identify the best of the best, and what common symbols and techniques they use (and borrow/steal like Picasso).

If this were my project I might try something with a lightbulb in a thought bubble (a little cheesy) or a math problem (1+1=2).

  • This is the result of those processes. Just looking for more minds to help me map the concepts I've honed down on so far.
    – invot
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 20:39
  • I think that you should rethink your choice of imagery. I'm not sure if the vector/icon style works well for this (somewhat complex) concept. A photo or step-by-step illustration would probably work better.
    – D.Mas
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 1:29
  • I disagree. We ended up going with an icon that conveys the concept perfectly. I would post it here, but I am interested in seeing what other users here would come up with.
    – invot
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 13:53

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