Monday, April 12, 2010

Notes on Writing: Kathy Carlton Willis


What's in a Tagline?
What’s in a name? In days of old, parents named babies in a way that would be almost prophetic of what that child would become or what that child represented. We’ve gotten away from that tradition, but today, we use taglines. Part of branding for an author is to come up with a tagline.

A tagline isn’t a commercial jingle or a mission statement, but it has that same sort of feel. It is a punchy slogan that defines your body of work. A successful tagline evokes an instant image of the one being described, succinctly leaving a positive impression. You want to pick a tagline that will be broad enough to cover the entire scope of your work, but narrow enough to be unique in capturing your essence—your passion. It’s not just telling others about you, it’s telling them what’s in it for them when they read your work.

Sometimes a tagline is also referred to as a strapline or even a slogan. When identifying the components of a good tagline, I look for three elements: 1) Does it succinctly voice your mission? 2) Does it offer the consumer a promise of what’s in it for them? 3) Does it fit consistently with the rest of your branding elements (logo, book titles, speaking titles, bio, etc.)? It’s important to not merely focus on the product itself, but what you as a total package offers.

Make sure your tagline doesn’t only define, but uses pizzazz to punch up the sell-factor and make you a household commodity—at least to your identified niche-markets and target audiences.

Keep your tagline short—long ones are hard to remember. Make it catchy. And be sure your tagline holds interest for anyone beyond your mother or spouse. You don’t want to leave the potential consumer going, “So what?” Use originality, humor, or drama to make your tagline memorable. Some use puns and use them well, others use puns in a tired, corny way. Be sure you know the difference if you try this technique.

Once you have brainstormed a tagline, you can use it in all sorts of ways: on business cards, with your logo as a header on your Web site or blog, as part of your signature line on e-mails, as part of your print materials and letterhead. Also, your tagline might be a good thing to use on your query letters, one-sheets, and proposals. It gives others a quick snapshot of what your heartbeat looks like. Much better way for them to get to know you than showing them your 6th grade school photo!

When you use a tagline as part of your branding efforts, you funnel all of your work into this one defining description. It gives you a consistent message, voice, stylization, and image. One goal is to build a specific perception with your audience and potential audience. It causes your audience to feel a certain way, and when they read your work, they seek that same “something unique” in each of your books. Your tagline helps define what makes you distinctly different from other authors.

Taglines will help you build your public exposure, your name recognition, and even gives an implied promise that the consumer will get a certain special “something” consistently with you as the “product” being described by the tagline. The tagline will hook your target audience because it’s relevant, real, and fits the consumer’s implied need or want.

If your tagline defines you, defines your work, and grabs readers at the heart and the mind—then you’ve discovered the right tagline.

Here are some samples of great taglines. (Permission granted by each author for me to use these taglines in this article.)

where romance meets therapy
Jeannie Campbell, LMFT

Stories of Unscripted Grace
Christa Allan

Uncovering the Unthinkable
Deborah M. Piccurelli

Southern-fried Fiction
Ane Mulligan

Cozy mysteries - with a kick!
Lorena McCourtney

Exploring the Deep Questions of Faith
Cheri Cowell

Stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark
Cynthia Ruchti

Yesterday's women—Today's issues
Ann Shorey

Finding the extraordinary God in our ordinary lives
Patty Wysong

Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace
Winnie Griggs
What’s In a Tagline, by Kathy Carlton Willis, owner of the same named communications firm. Kathy and her team get jazzed shining the light on their clients and their Lord. See more at their blog:

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