What Do Your Trust Tattoos Say About You?

trust logos

Image courtesy of Actualinsights.com

A past client of mine coined a wonderful phrase when he mentioned the fact that his shopping cart “had all the usual security tattoos,” referring to the seals/badges/logos seen around the Web as credibility indicators and anxiety reducers.

While I laughed at the time, I now think that there’s something to this idea that trust badges on sites are like tattoos on people. You can make some pretty safe assumptions about people’s personalities based on their body art, so maybe online shoppers are making assumptions about your site based on your security “tattoos”!

Let’s start with some examples of human tattoos, and what we can infer about the personality of the owner. Check each image and the caption underneath to verify that we’re on the same page.

Example #1:

u.s. marine core tattoo

I will out-fight you, out-drink you, and out-brag you.

Example #2:

foot tattoo

I only like tattoos in the summer time.

Example #3:

Spider-Man Tattoo

I like comic books WAY more than you do.

Now, let’s play the same game with security “tattoos” and see if they’re having their intended effect. Check each image and the caption underneath to see what I’ve inferred about the personality of the 3rd party trust provider.

Example #1:

verify security logo

Like a mall cop, I am generically dressed and unpredictable.

Example #2:

bbb logo

I don't know diddly about SSL sockets, but I'll shake your hand and look you in the eye.

Example #3:

mcafee logo

I am credible and professional. I also know which word to emphasize.

Example #4:

verisign logo

Just because I got hacked, doesn't mean You'll get hacked!

Example #5:

scan alert hacker safe logo

I'm so safe, my shield can be completely blank.

The Serious Part

Obviously, this post was intended to be fun and humorous, but I believe there’s a serious consideration here: every graphic you put on your site, even if it’s a “best practice,” has an effect on your prospects. We assume that trust symbols have the intended effect of reducing anxiety and building credibility, but do they? Have you tested these symbols to understand their true impact? Any insights related to trust logos that you’ve gained by testing them? Please share in comments!

I’d like to thank my past client for making the initial connection in my mind between trust seal graphics and tattoos. I’d also like to refer you to Matthew Niederberger’s fascinating post on how Trust Logo Recognition Precedes Presence, as it is the serious and academic version of my post 🙂


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