Oh, those dense terms and conditions. Companies need them. Customers should read them. And yet, legal teams are often the only ones prioritizing these essential communications when services and products come to market.
Why? Because the traditional way of categorizing terms and conditions isn’t as a brand asset — rather, a legal requirement.
As a result, organizations usually create a document with hard-to-read content blocks, confusing legalese, and few brand features beyond a logo. Instead of creating clear, compelling content, the focus becomes, We’ve said what we need to and protected ourselves. Job done!
We get this mindset — writing legal terms is difficult. But, when you solely focus on legal protection without considering audience experience, how do people read your terms and conditions?
In fact, 91% of Americans accept terms and conditions without reading (and that percentage bumps to 97% for people aged 18 – 34). And it’s no wonder we’re not reading these documents: The average American would need 250 hours each year to complete the task.
Do you have that much time to spend muddling through legalese? I know I don’t!
A Branded Opportunity
Now, imagine what would happen if companies started viewing their terms and conditions as a brand asset. Today, 89% of companies are competing mostly on customer experiences.
And building and supporting those experiences happens across a variety of communication touchpoints, like:
- Email purchase confirmations
- Social posts
- User policies
- Website content & blogs
With each interaction, your audiences expect seamless, consistent, engaging experiences. So, if any of those touchpoints is negative — you risk 58% of them no longer working with your company because of it.
Considering people also form a first impression of your content within 50 milliseconds, you have little wiggle room to spare for their patience (and judgment).
With these details in mind, perhaps companies might start giving their terms and conditions more scrutiny and care when creating them. By being thoughtful about how people experience your brand — which you do in other content areas — you foster a positive audience relationship. And 65% of consumers believe that positive experiences influence them more than advertising.
A Moment to Self-Reflect
Are your terms and conditions a brand asset? If you’re unsure, here are some questions to ask yourself to help you gauge your own content quality and brand experience:
- Are your sentences typically longer than 25 words?
- Does your content rely on legalese?
- Do you use lots of passive voice?
- Do you share dense content blocks and little white space?
- Do you need a lawyer to understand your own terms and conditions?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then you’re treating your terms and considerations as a legal afterthought. And you have a real opportunity to improve them, so they become a true brand asset. Remember, clarity is always a brand choice — and audiences notice when you choose to make a brand experience easy or difficult for them.
When you embrace all of your language as a brand asset, you create another opportunity to delight your audiences and differentiate your company. And in a quickly growing content landscape, these experiences matter more than ever.