Word of mouth quickly spreads like fire ravaging a house of cards. Misinformation, rumors, and misconceptions are some of the examples of words that may spell the difference of an enterprise’s untimely demise or its triumphant success. All of these three may have positive and negative effects on your business. But regardless, both of them will contribute to the business’s ruin in the long run. Disclaimers are statements that lay the bare truth on the table, thus keeping the honest reputation of your brand—removing all the obstacles that put your business’s marketing efforts into a complete waste.
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What is a Disclaimer?
People are more likely to be drawn to popular beliefs and urban legends??—like how mountain dew reduces one’s sperm count??—regardless of how poorly researched, misinforming, and insubstantial they are. Sometimes, good things that are said about a brand often brings more harm than good if there’s no speck of truth inside them. Businesses and organizations recognize this as a risk and will do anything in their power to counter it.
Disclaimers are statements that state the limit and scope of use of a product and service. It also limits and waives the company’s responsibility and liability from any untoward incidents that may arise from misuse and negligence. Disclaimers aim to protect customers and business owners alike for two reasons. First, it informs the customers about the boundaries of a product or service, at the same time, allows businesses to limit their responsibility from any damages.
Disclaimers and Where to Find Them
Disclaimers are part and parcel of every product and service we encounter everywhere in our daily lives. Warning signs and notices, for example, warns us about the risky nature of using public spaces or facilities. Disclaimers are also printed on labels of almost every product that we use, and medicines are one of the best examples of it. The fields and industries that extensively use disclaimers too many to mention, and will see many additions to the list as economies grow in the future. But listed down below are some of them.
- Home Appliances: Life is never easy without the convenience that home appliances bring. They enabled us to do household chores with less effort at a lesser amount of time. Since equipment like these doesn’t come cheap, and purchasing them would often involve some amount of paperwork. Disclaimers and warranty forms are some of the forms that you need to sign up to complete the purchase.
- Food and Medicine: Food and Medicine are essential in taking care of our health and well-being. And since they are taken internally to take effect, it is important that the consumers themselves know what they’re about to ingest is exactly. Phrases like “no therapeutic claims” and “not a breastmilk substitute” are printed on labels to disclaim common misconceptions attributed to them.
- Literature: Words and lines in printed media, no matter how well written and created they are, should always be taken with a grain of salt. Works of fiction are thoroughly researched to catch the audience’s attention. Publishers and authors alike would deliberately include disclaimers in some of their work’s pages to inform and remind the readers that there is always a fine line between fact and fiction.
- Entertainment Industry: The entertainment industry makes extensive use of one’s image, likeness, and voice. Film and music are fields of the industry that profit from these attributes, which are protected by intellectual property rights. And, anyone participating in any fields of the entertainment industry must respect these rights through the use of forms and disclaimers. Consent forms and waivers are some of the forms that allow the use of one’s image, likeness, and voice legally by obtaining their owner’s permission.
- Contracts and Agreements: Disclaimers, believe it or not, are also used in contracts and agreements. They are usually found in stipulations that extinguishes both or the other party’s responsibility, liability, and even culpability depending on the terms and conditions set and stipulated by the contracting parties themselves. Contracts that involve the sale of properties are one of the examples that include a disclaimer in them.
Why Use a Disclaimer?
Curbing misinformation, rumors, and misconceptions, before they spread and go out of hand, is the primary reason why using a disclaimer is important for every business and organization. Leaving them unchecked often results in the creation of urban myths and legends, which often do more harm regardless if they’re good or bad for the business’s image. Imagine the amount of money you’ll have to spend and the legal battles that you’ll have to go through just to rebrand your business’s image and reputation.
To illustrate the matter more deeply, perhaps we should take a look at the case of Snapple and the rumors of the company supporting various racist groups including the infamous Ku Klux Klan. The rumors started when people noticed a floating K on its old label?—right above the slave ship’s mast. Despite the fact that the brand’s founders were all Jewish, the rumor continued to spread until it starts to hurt its image. The company resorted to spending a fortune in rebranding and reimaging, which includes designing and adopting a new logo, and ads to deride slanderous rumors.
How to Write a Disclaimer
Words of false and unsubstantial nature will always do more harm than good for the brand, whether they’re products or services. Disclaimers printed on labels and signages refute false statements and promises about your brand. And by doing so, it gives the public notices of reminders, warnings, and truthful information about a product or service until it becomes deeply embedded in their minds and becomes common knowledge. Not only that, but disclaimers also protects the public from harm caused by misinformation, especially from using the same products and services sold by competitors. If you find disclaimers very important to your company as well as your customer’s wellbeing then here the ways on how to write them.
Step 1. Know your Products or Services’ Inside and Out
The military strategist Sun Tzu once said: “If you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles.” Knowing what your products are made of, what they can do, and what they can’t, will allow you to define its strengths and limitations. Thus, establishing the certainty and truth about their being before the public would lay unfounded claims about them. Product information straight from the quality control, research, and development departments will help you accomplish this task.
Step 2. Define Your Product’s or Service’s Limitations
Information coming straight from reports from the research and development department, allows you to establish the product’s or service’s limitations and capabilities. In doing so, you can also determine the risks that may stem from inflated claims about the products themselves, and formulate countermeasures against it. Thus, allowing you to define your company’s responsibilities and obligations from problems that may arise from misuse.
Step 3. Define Your Company’s Responsibility and Obligations
Accidents and other misfortunes often happen due to improper and negligent use of the product itself. On the other hand, the same also happens because of misconceptions and poor understanding of the service before availing it. Yet, despite every effort to make your products and services as safe as possible, these types of risks happen from time to time. So it pays to inform your customers about the products’ and services’ limitations as well as your company’s before they buy or avail for them.
Step 4. Draft and Finalize the Disclaimer
Words have the ability to destroy things as equally as they can bring ideas to life. It has the power to manipulate the thoughts, opinions, and views of others, thus influence how we see and think about them in return. Words can also destroy lives and businesses as well. Keeping words within our grasp and control lets us control the outcome and fate in everything that we do. Thus, ensuring harmony, safety, and wisdom in every corner of society.
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