March 28, 2007

Conveying trust

Have you ever noticed that David Letterman's chair is just a little bit higher than his guest's? Or wondered why the pharmacist at the drug store is one step above you behind the counter? Or pondered the reasoning for the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval?" As Billy Joel would say, it's a matter of trust.

Take a look at this banner of the Washington Post newspaper:

How would your impression of the paper be different if it looked like this?

The fact is, most newspapers use a similar, powerful, gothic font for their mastheads. Not only do these fonts connote trust and strength but also a "heritage of reliability." Interestingly, when the Washington Post created its website, they chose to go away from the traditional, authoritative print logo and create a new brand that is more modern and relaxed for the new medium.

Your organization's websites and e-newsletters reflect credibility (or the lack thereof) too. When we work with clients on a redesign project, one of the questions we ask early on is "How credible or authoritative should the site appear?" Should it look rigid and austere or relaxed and informal? Most organizations fall somewhere in between, but vary in where they want to be on the "continuum of trust."

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