The person of the entrepreneur and his personality plays a major role in building trust — for smaller companies and self-employed people anyway, but equally as the head of a large company. The managing director, owner, or CEO stands for the company and shapes the image. Personality is an essential building block of trust, which also pays off on the trustworthiness of the company in the new customer process.
Of course, the effect is even more decisive in the personal meeting. Here, factors such as posture, gestures, dialect, and style play an important role. In times when videos play an increasingly important role on websites, these parameters can no longer be ignored online. And even with the photo, the personality unfolds. This is the aspect I would like to focus on in this post. The big question is, how should you appear in photos to be trustworthy?
This is a question I have dealt with time and again in many client projects. It is quite common that new photos are taken when the website is redesigned. Since the existing portraits are almost always out of date, were not particularly successful anyway, or there are new important people, new portraits are almost always made.
The quality of the photographer plays an outstanding role. On the one hand, his task is to ensure the perfect quality. This includes the right light, the ambiance, the perfect fit of the clothing, the appropriate depth of field, etc. Occasionally, a little make-up and powder are added. Some people insist on variations in several styles to be able to choose afterward. At the same time, a good photographer ensures the necessary looseness so that the pictures can be taken as relaxed as possible. This keeps him extremely busy.
But which expression is now decisive? How should the person be optimally photographed so that he or she appears trustworthy?
In reading a wide variety of sources over the past few weeks, I have noticed three essential types based on the personality traits of Zach Miller’s “Attractive Character”. Zach Miller describes four identities where you have to decide who you want to be: the leader, the adventurer, the reporter/evangelist, and the reluctant hero.
The reporter/evangelist is Oprah Winfrey’s prime example. This guy gets his authority without any expertise of his own solely based on the fact that he is seen together with many celebrities. Since this is not a realistic option for 99.9% of us, I am leaving this type out. This leaves three identities, which are well suited as a basis for the right image capture. I would like to say in advance that it only makes sense to choose one of these personalities if you can personify it authentically in everyday life. I have adjusted them a little bit and describe them with:
The person at eye level
1. The authority
Natural authorities are usually convincing from an early age. A nice article in yesterday’s Süddeutsche Zeitung describes a study by psychologists at the University of Amsterdam who proved that even 7–14-year-olds have a preference for narcissistic leaders. Narcissistic personalities are admired at first contact, they appear charming and self-confident. However, since this personality structure is not promising in the long run — corresponding studies prove the destructive effect in groups — one should definitely not overdo it. Even Donald Trump ultimately failed because of himself.
A touch of narcissism is allowed for this type. But I’m even more concerned with the authority that is radiated by him. Ideally, it is a person who immediately attracts looks when entering the room and makes the room calmer. The aura that such people radiate can also be conveyed through photographs.
Everyone knows the lawyer with the slicked-back hair, the consultant in the tailor-made suit, the craftsman who doesn’t tolerate any backtalk when it comes to the perfect implementation of his trade, or the experienced doctor with the full white beard.
Each of these types can be 100% trustworthy — even if he does not have to be likable. The prerequisite is a large amount of knowledge up to expert status and pronounced success with it. If you have that, this can be your path.
For example, I would immediately entrust my heart surgery to this type of doctor.
Exemplary photos — of very different types and for different industries:
2. the conqueror
The conqueror tries new things, is innovative and creative. He actually goes new ways, climbs high mountains, or goes by boat once around the world.
You follow him when you want to leave well-trodden paths when it comes to trying out or developing something new. Startups are the perfect example here, but so are architects, designers, and other creative professions.
It is in doubt a bit tousled, rather wild than well-behaved, in any case, not 08/15.
For all those who cannot or do not want to expose themselves in this way, there is the third option of positioning as a way out:
3. the person at eye level
In his book “Dotcom Secrets,” Russel Brunson describes a person who becomes a hero rather reluctantly. Through certain experiences, he has arrived at a knowledge that he now wants to pass on to others. However, he himself is by no means a born leader but has rather reluctantly fallen into this role. The great advantage of this role is that he is at eye level with his listeners. Underlying this is the experience of a similarity. The more similar someone is to us, the more likable we find him (as always: the same applies to them). In certain situations and for certain target groups, it is important to belong to the community and speak the respective language.
I know this well from the startup world. Here, a completely separate, mostly English-inspired language is spoken. If you are not familiar with seed, grow, later stage, and venture capital (to name just a few of the terms), you will not do well in this world. In the language of Russel Brunson, this leads to the idea of presenting oneself at eye level with one’s target group. Jeans instead of a suit, casual shirt instead of a jacket or even a tie, etc.
You have the choice. Are you an authority, a conqueror, or a person at eye level?
Very important: The personal positioning must of course suit you. This brings us to authenticity, which plays a big role in choosing the right photos. The photos should be perceived as genuine and correspond to what the customer will later experience in personal contact.
One thing is clear: you should invest some time in taking and selecting the right photos for a trustworthy appearance on your website. Your personality will be expressed in this way and will be an important building block for potential customers’ trust in you.