Crafting a One-Liner

KJ Roelke Marcomm Leave a Comment

So you’ve gone through the Storybrand Framework and feel like you’ve got a good sense of your brand/ministry/product. Great! How do we put it together in a quick, 8-second pitch? Enter the One-Liner.

In the film industry, the one-liner (or “logline” as it’s referred to in Hollywood), is the single sentence (or two, but definitely not three) that explains what the movie is about. For whatever you just Storybranded, it’s how you tell people the What.

One-liner vs. Tag lines & Subheadlines

I wanted to take a moment and point out that one-liners are not taglines. Taglines are quippy marketing statements that work like an “earworm” for audiences (e.g. Subway’s “Eat Fresh” or Nike’s “Just Do It.”).

Point-of-clarification: Subheadlines may be either taglines or one-liners, but the term “subheadline” refers to a specific location beneath a Headline in copywriting and web development, not the copy itself.

Writing One-Liners

A traditional, Hollywood logline is going to hit all the major points of the story in two sentences or less. Fortunately, we don’t need to hit all of those beats, but we do need to hit a few major ones:

  • The Product/Brand/Ministry
  • Helps Heroes
  • Overcome the (External) Problem,
  • End in Success
  • (And avoid Failure).

So, here’s some examples!

  • Above Reproach:
    • The One-Liner: Above Reproach equips ministry leaders with state-compliant, biblically-centered sexual harassment training that helps make the Church the safe space it should be.
    • Breaking it down: [Guide] equips [The Hero] with [The Plan] [that solves the Philosophical problem]
  • Spark Staffing:
    • The One-Liner: Spark Staffing helps ministries and candidates get connected in a relationship-first way, because finding the right fit shouldn’t break the bank or make you feel like a list of skills.
    • Breaking it down: [Guide] helps [Heroes] [end in Success], because [The Plan] [overcomes the External and Internal Problems].
  • Missions at a Local Church: (First Methodist Carrollton, or FMC)
    • The One-liner: By getting involved with Missions at FMC, you can step out of the day-to-day routine and into God’s greater calling without fear of perpetuating Toxic Charity.
    • Breaking it Down: [The Plan] gets [Heroes] to [overcome the Internal Problem] and into [Success] without [failure].
    • Full Disclosure: This one isn’t that good, because the use of “Toxic Charity” assumes that vocabulary exists within the Hero’s internal dictionary. Unless they’ve read the book or been exposed to the concept somewhere else, it’s probably going to fall flat. However, the structure is here to provide another example of how you could write a one-liner.

What’s the Point?

Once you’ve done the deep work of Storybranding and you’ve disseminated it down to a one-liner, the person you’re pitching to should respond “tell me more!” There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to crafting a one-liner, and the beats (and the order of said beats) are going to change every time you right it. Just remember, the goal of a one-liner is to get the reader/listener to respond “Tell Me More!”

What’s Next?

Once someone says “Tell me more,” you’ve got them hooked into a story loop, hopefully leading to a CTA conversion. This is where more traditional marketing is going to come into play, but your creativity should always stay within the scope of the Storybrand you created.

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