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, but 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.
What? 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.
1.) Alliteration – Start each word (or at least a significant amount of words) with the same letter. My tagline for fiction? 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.
2.) Rhyming – Look at Katie Morford’s Create. Explore. Illuminate. She uses the One Word. method, but also sneaks in a rhyme between her first and third words. The second “buffer” word and the fact that all three of her words directly relate to her mission statement makes this tagline a home run.
3.) Syllables – 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 is getting a little more technical, but makes for a satisfying mouthful.
4.) Repetition – 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 used to be Building Stories From the Inside Out. I slimmed it down because it was too long to get through. Although I’ll never say a long tagline is out of the question, in general shorter is better.
6.) One Word. or Two Words. or even Three Words. – For my press, Uncommon Universes Press (note the alliteration?) our tagline is Be New. Be Bold. Be Uncommon. This encapsulates UUP’s emphasis on speculative fiction that is unorthodox, creative, and owns its unique vision on the world.
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. You know you have a good tagline when you can explain how it directly relates to your fiction and only your fiction.
Anyone can just throw together a few epic sounding creative 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 Push (motivation/angle) unique, then it might as well not be there. Better a less-clever tagline that resonates with your writing than a word gem that doesn’t really mean anything.
However, 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.
A good tagline invites your reader into your passion, your purpose, and your perspective as an author.
My tagline is Write Inside Out, because I honestly believe inside every person is a great writer–and I want to coach and equip you every step of the way. Taglines are one of my favorite things to problem-solve, and I would love to help coach you through yours. We figure out your Push, your audience, your genre needs, and go from there on an exciting journey to awesomeness! Tagline coaching is $15/half hour or $30/hour over video chat, and you get a follow-up email with session notes, suggestions, and encouragement.