A tagline gives more information about you and about your purpose in a short, bite-size phrase that can easily sink into your reader’s minds.
Like you, I’m busy. I usually give a website maybe five to ten seconds to prove its worth before I move on. It’s nothing personal. Life’s short.
Taglines are a great way to hook the interest of busy readers and web-surfers–as long as that tagline is purposeful, snappy, and connects with your core message.
There are plenty of helpful articles with examples of taglines, but I’m going to pull out my English language know-how to clue you into one secret about taglines and then break it down.
It’s all about poetry.
Yeah, poetry. That stuff you had to learn in high school (or didn’t learn, because you were zoning out). Love it or hate it, poetry focuses on the rhythms, beats, and patterns of language, and that makes it an asset when it comes turning out a good phrase.
The best taglines are poetry. Here are some examples of how to put this into practice.
Start each word (or at least a significant number of words) with the same letter. One of my old tag lines for fiction was Monsters, Misfits, and Mushy Stuff. Ronie Kendig’s tagline? Rapid-Fire Fiction. Pam Halter has a great one with Fairies, Fantasy, and Faith. Alliteration sticks in the brain and creates a great starting point for your brand.
Another tagline I’ve seen is Create. Explore. Read. This tagline used the One Word method mentioned below, but also sneaks in a rhyme between the first and third words. The second “buffer” word and the fact that all three of the words directly relate to the mission statement makes this tagline a home run.
Let’s go back to Monsters, Misfits, and Mushy Stuff. The first three primary words all start with “m”, all have two syllables, and all have the same stress pattern: MONsters, MISfits, MUSHy Stuff. This makes for a satisfying mouthful.
Repeating the same stress pattern, syllable pattern, or beginning word is a key aspect in many effective taglines. Just don’t do it too much or it can get sing-songy in a bad way.
5.) Short and Punchy
Write Inside Out, one of my old taglines, used to be Building Stories From the Inside Out. I slimmed it down because it was too long to get through. Now my tagline is Own Your Unique Words. Again, short, precise, and simple. Although I’ll never say a long tagline is out of the question, in general shorter is better.
6.) One Word
For my press, Uncommon Universes Press (note the alliteration?) our tagline is Wonder. Adventure. Sacrifice. This encapsulates UUP’s thematic vision.
Ultimately, you can have all of the above and still not have a great tagline. Why? Because taglines are more than just clever poetry tricks.
Sure, you can throw together random words: Dream. Live. Believe. or Soft Words for Strong Matters (see there? Contrasting elements between soft and strong). But if that clever little phrase doesn’t really encapsulate what makes you, your mission, and your motivation/angle unique, then it might as well not be there.
You know you have a good tagline when you can explain how it directly relates to your fiction.
Better a less-clever tagline that resonates with your writing than a word gem that doesn’t really mean anything.
If you can nail down a great tagline, then you have one more expression of your authentic self and vision to reach readers and allow them to see into your world. And that is priceless.