Do we need a tagline?comments (5) November 14th, 2008 in Blogs
years ago, when Paul Roman dreamed up a magazine for woodworkers and named it Fine
Woodworking, he created a new company, The Taunton Press, and a problem
for every other magazine he would go on to publish. The problem is that word fine.
It’s a perfect little adjective to modify woodworking. My tattered 1973 edition
of The American Heritage Dictionary offers 14 definitions, but the first
one is clearly what Paul had in mind: “of superior quality, skill, or
appearance; admirable.” Number seven works, too: “showing workmanship of great
care and delicacy: fine china.”
For the most part, Fine Woodworking has not had to defend, apologize for, explain, or clarify its name. The rest of us have. And by the rest of us, I mean Fine Homebuilding, Fine Gardening, and Fine Cooking. Somehow, when we launched a sewing magazine, we sidestepped the problem entirely by naming the publication Threads. Probably a wise move.
The trouble with fine, when applied to home building (or gardening or cooking), is not the word’s definition but its connotation: what the word suggests or implies beyond its literal meaning. The name Fine Homebuilding, not surprisingly, suggests to some people a magazine about fine homes. And fine homes, like fine china, are associated with rich people. Fine homes, at least in that connotation, are what you find in Architectural Digest.
Fine Homebuilding, of course, is not a magazine about the houses you’d find in Architectural Digest. Yes, we have published houses owned by rich people, but most of those houses could never have appeared in Architectural Digest because they didn’t have drapes that pooled on the floor, leopard-skin throw rugs, or belong to Candice Bergen. And in any case, Fine Homebuilding is mostly about process, and rich people are not much interested in learning how to install their own seamless gutters.
So the other day, one of the editors suggested that maybe Fine Homebuilding needed a tagline. You know, a little phrase on the magazine’s cover that clarifies what it’s about and who it’s for. Fine Cooking has one: “For people who love to cook.” Dwell has one: “At home in the modern age.” We figured that it couldn’t hurt to come up with a tagline for Fine Homebuilding. We wouldn’t have to use it. So we all thought up taglines and sat around discussing them for a couple of hours.
I was pretty disappointed that everybody didn’t jump on my first suggestion: Fine Homebuilding: “Expensive but worth it.” They thought I was kidding. My next offering was Fine Homebuilding: “More practical than you’d think.” Nobody liked that one either. My favorite was Fine Homebuilding: “Where the best builders share what they know.” But again, no votes. We never did agree on a tagline, but we’re still thinking about it. So let us know if you have any good ideas.
posted in: Blogs
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About this blog
As the editor of Fine Homebuilding, I spend my weekdays trying to produce a magazine that will satisfy 300,000 of the most demanding builders, both professional and amateur. As the owner of a 200-year old Cape in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills, I spend weekends working on my house.
Each activity invariably informs, and complicates, the other. In this blog, I’ll offer observations from both worlds -- publishing and building -- with the hope of providing some useful or at least entertaining insights.