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The Importance of Taglines


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May 31, 2005

The Importance of Taglines

Heather Green

Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate is digging into an experiment with taglines, those descriptions that appear under the name of the blogs to explain the writers' mission, or even their zeitgeist.

He's asking people to comment on the taglines of 59 different blogs, including NevOn: "Neville Hobson's weblog: comment and opinion on business communication and technology,"Kottke: "home of fine hypertext products," and our own Blogspotting: "Where the worlds of business, media and blogs collide."

Why the obsession with taglines? I think Streight is right on when he says they play an important role is setting visitors' expectations.

Taglines also seem to play a part in helping bloggers figure out what to focus on in their postings. We spend hours on cover language and the little text called a deck that accompanies a cover headline. And it definitely helps us figure out how to focus.

We went through the same experience when it came to coming up with a tagline for blogspotting. Here are some of the early versions of our tagline that I found after digging through my email:

These just didn't make the cut. They were too wordy, overly dramatic, off points, and er, just plain clumsy:

"Mainstream media and blogs are colliding, get a seat up front and center.

Forging ahead into the open world, where mainstream media meets blog.

A take on the colliding worlds of blogs and mainstream media.

A seat up front and center of the collision between mainstream media and blogs.

An open discussion on the melding of mainstream media and blogs."

10:38 AM

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? The Importance of Taglines from Smarter Stuff

Over at Business Week, there's a blog post about the importance of taglines (for blogs). [Read More]

Tracked on May 31, 2005 06:49 PM

Thank you for pointing your readers to my humble little "experiment". Prior to the taglines article, I had posted two "experiments" on blog post titles, the last 5 titles of around 40 blogs.

It is fun and enlightening to compare certain elements of various blogs, and see which seem to be most powerful, compelling, accurate, etc.

I plan to do an experiment once every month.

I really appreciate your taking notice of what I'm doing. It made my day.

:^)

Steven/Vaspers

Posted by: Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate at June 1, 2005 03:18 AM

Heya Steven,

I have to think that lots of people are finding it a pretty nifty experiment. And the importance of it absolutely rang true, given our muddling through, trying to find a good tagline.

Posted by: Heather Green at June 1, 2005 11:17 AM

Once a person acquires a knack for what's called micro-content composition by the web usability pros, it's not so frustrating.

There is a certain kind of analysis that yields crystallization of key attributes into little nuggets of expression.

Clear as chocolate mud, huh?

Well, Blogspotting has an excellent tagline for sure. I guess when you are tangled up in so much daily work on a product, deadlines, etc., it can be hard to step back and determine a succinct statement of intent or content.

But if a blogger can focus so intensely and contemplatively on the core value or primary quality of the blog, the tagline will ooze out like truthpaste.

I was a direct marketing copywriter prior to becoming a web usability analyst and then deteriorating into a blogologist. LOL

One weird trick I used a lot was: write as stupidly as possible first. Then think, "well, I'm not saying THAT, that's for sure!" So you work backward from "this is the WORST way to say it, but it does contain a grain of truth."

So then you trim away the silliness and the quality statement emerges.

Another way is to just keep writing anything, generate tons of alternatives, until the great statement arise out of chaos and sheer quantity.

The problem with the "get a ringside seat" type tagline is that it's really more of an advertising headline, like for a direct mail letter, print ad, or brochure.

It contains excitement, maybe, but it requires further explanation, like you'd give the reader of a sales letter.

A tagline, on the other hand, should be like a seed. Tiny. Self-referential self-contained morsel that satisfies curiosity all by itself.

Web credibility studies by Prof. B.J. Fogg at Stanford for Consumer Reports WebWatch revealed that visitors to sites make fast decisions on remaining at a site or moving on to another, based on immediate impression of visual quality, good design, nice colors, professional look.

The tagline is part of that instant appraisal by users. It's your golden opportunity to tell a visitor, "yeah. relax. you're right where you need to be. we got you covered. this the blog devoted to practical insights on banana carving [or whatever the blog deals with]."

:^)

"Look, but don't lurk. Post comments at blogs. Feedback makes the blogosphere go round."

"Hate your blog, then improve it!"

Steven

Posted by: Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate at June 2, 2005 04:45 AM


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