Do we need a tagline? - Fine Homebuilding

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Better than Plumb

Better than Plumb

Do we need a tagline?

comments (5) November 14th, 2008 in Blogs
Kevini Kevin Ireton, editor-at-large


Thirty-three 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

Comments (5)

curwada curwada writes: How about: "The Technology of Craftsmanship"
Posted: 10:09 pm on April 20th

MikeGuertin MikeGuertin writes: What was that Dudley Moore movie where he played an ad guy. One scene had him proposing an ad for Volvo "Boxy but Safe."

I think you're onto something with "Expensive but worth it" and "More practical than you'd think." I have a feeling that the other editors in the room were thinking too hard to either come up with a snappy tag line OR (more likely) have become too steeped in the magazine business.

Hopefully you'll come up with something good. And while you're working on the magazine tag line, do something about the online tag line: "The most trusted building information online." Sounds similar to some of the tag lines used by Wall street investment firms - way too stodgy.
Posted: 8:44 pm on January 12th

bobbresnahan bobbresnahan writes: "best practices in design and construction."
Posted: 10:25 am on December 26th

bwbuilds bwbuilds writes: Build it Better?
Posted: 10:18 am on December 11th

True North True North writes: Fine Homebuilding: We aren't This Old House!

(not that there's anything wrong with that.)
Posted: 5:44 pm on November 24th

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