Your Contract’s Tone of Voice

Some companies think hard about making their websites, guides, and blogs user-friendly and easy to read. But they rarely follow this tone of voice into their contracts.

Think about it: until your prospective customer has agreed to your contract, they are still a prospect. That means you are still woo-ing them. Now is definitely not the right time to go really serious, to show your less pleasant habits like turgid contracts.

This post was prompted by a couple of tweets I spotted about Tumblr’s Community Guidelines(@dailydot among them). Some people think the guidelines are very readable, definitely shareable and even sassy!

Being Benedict

The Guidelines say things like:

Don’t do things that would cause confusion between you or your blog and a person or company, like registering a deliberately confusing URL. Don’t impersonate anyone. While you’re free to ridicule, parody, or marvel at the alien beauty of Benedict Cumberbatch, you can’t pretend to actually be Benedict Cumberbatch.

This shows a completely different side to their Terms of Service:

WITHOUT LIMITING THE FOREGOING, TO THE FULL EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, TUMBLR DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OR NON-INFRINGEMENT.

And yes, that clause is all in shouty capitals!

It’s great that Tumblr has guidelines which are so nice that people share them. But how does that sit with long, complex T&C that are full of jargon and make even lawyers quake in their boots?

What should you do?

If your website and your brand is sassy, then your T&C should be sassy too.

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