In my last blog on terms and conditions, I talked about how these documents are more than a legal requirement — they’re a brand asset.
Because every piece of content your company creates reflects your brand and your values. And when 64% of people feel that sharing values with a brand creates trust between them, how you communicate affects whether you earn that trust.
If you’re one of the countless businesses with terms and conditions these days, why not use them as another way to connect with audiences and differentiate yourself? After all, just because these documents are almost always a chore to read doesn’t mean yours have to be!
You can turn your terms and conditions into a brand asset, and enjoy these three key benefits as a result:
People don’t read what’s difficult to get through. And once we’re on mobile, forget about it.
People want real conversation with brands and prioritize clarity over complexity. In a global study about reading legalese, 86% of people preferred plain language explanations over traditional legal language. And that number bumped to 91% for people with PhDs.¹
What to do: Rather than create confusing, longwinded terms and conditions that people hate reading (and will associate that feeling with your brand), embrace plain language. The clear language will better protect your company with straightforward terms. You’ll also encourage people to actually read, be part of the conversation, and understand what they’re agreeing to — fostering a positive brand experience.
Some companies take the time to develop an engaging verbal brand identity — only to lose their voice in legal documents. But why should your messaging sound any differently in your terms and conditions than how you talk on your website? Each content piece comes from the same brand, so shouldn’t the voices align?
Audiences trust companies more when they’re consistent. And that trust can boost the bottom line. In fact, on average, revenue can increase by 23% when brands are consistent.
What to do: Remember that when your voice shifts from easy and conversational on a website to complex and stiff in your terms and conditions, audiences notice. Rather than frustrate them with difficult content, foster your relationship with consistent language and voice — and make every brand experience a positive one.
Traditional terms and conditions are not only a bore to read and a brand detractor — they hide a bigger culprit: lack of transparency. And you better believe that your audiences crave transparency. In fact, nearly 90% of people believe that transparency in business is more important than ever.
Clunky, complex language constructions like long embedded lists, passive voice, jargon, and more create opaque content that can hide true meaning. And if readers do manage to muddle through, they usually don’t know what they’re signing up for — which raises concerns over informed consent. In one study, 98% of people didn’t notice sketchy clauses in a contract — including a promise to use their 1st born child as payment.
When your content makes people feel like you’re hiding something, you lose their trust — which is crucial in legal (and really any!) relationships.
What to do: Use the simplest language and structure you can to convey your message. By choosing to make your terms and conditions a trustworthy brand experience, you’ll boost audiences relationship with you and foster confidence in your brand.
Terms and conditions are here to stay and remain an important legal relationship. By viewing this communication as a brand experience, terms and conditions can advance — instead of threaten — your relationships. The clear, compelling customer experience will foster increased brand consistency, trust, and loyalty — traits all companies aspire to achieve.
¹ Trudeau, Christopher. The Public Speaks, Again: An International Study of Legal Communication. UAMS Center for Health Literacy & UALR Bowen School of Law. 2018.