On the last day of my family's Christmas vacation, my dad made our traditional holiday breakfast (eggs, grits, sausage and Pilsbury orange rolls) to cap off the season. As usual when Dad cooks breakfast, he gets to choose what's on TV in the kitchen, which almost always means HGTV. We wound up watching a show called Fixer Upper that I had never seen but immediately fell in love with! Have you seen it?? I have a feeling I'm pretty late to the party, so ignore this next paragraph if you already know what it's about...
Fixer Upper is about Chip and Joanna Gaines, a couple in Waco, Texas who own a home renovation business. HGTV is now following them around with cameras while they renovate the worst homes in the best neighborhoods for their clients. The interesting thing to me, is not necessarily the homes, even though they're absolutely gorgeous by the end of each episode, but the couple themselves. They have four children, great chemistry and what seems to be a wonderful working relationship. I could not stop watching them!
I wound up Googling the Gaines family, and found out that Joanna has a blog and an online shop where she sells jewelry and home accessories. She also owns a boutique in Waco and, in addition to their home renovation business, she and Chip have a real estate company, a gated community of small homes, and a farm loaded with animals.
My head started spinning just thinking about the numerous projects this woman is working on all at once. She's a shop owner, realtor, interior designer, blogger, TV show star, farmer and mother of four? How does she do it?!
Somebody asked her that very question on her blog and this is what she said: "I don’t. Do I fail and make mistakes? Every day. I have an amazing husband, a wonderful support system and a strong faith that God would not have brought me this opportunity without giving me the strength and grace to fulfill it."
Aha! I should have known. This woman is consciously dependent on the strength of the Almighty. That's the only way she could accomplish it all and remain sane!
But, after observing Joanna and her family for a little while, I could tell that there is a business secret that allows her to be successful with so many things. Her life is screaming a message that any small business owner would be wise to heed, and that message is: Branding is Powerful.
Business owner and speaker Whitney English says that a brand is based on 3 things:
Branding is the marriage of who you are with the visual and relational qualities of your service. It allows you to have cohesiveness across all areas of your business. I've been so focused on hunting for it myself recently that I recognized it immediately when I saw it in Joanna. Everything she's doing corresponds with who she and her husband are as people.
For any small business, your brand has to be YOU, and you function at your best when you're incorporating your passions, strengths and values. Just by watching Fixer Upper and reading Joanna's blog it is clear that she and Chip are passionate about Texas, Home, Farming and History. I would guess that just a few of their strengths are: Vision, Classic Taste, People Skills and Design. And, they've made it obvious that they value Quality, Honesty, Hospitality, and Family. These things come out in their lifestyle, their interactions with their clients, and even the way they dress.
If you were to check out Joanna and Chip's website or TV show you would find that all of their businesses fall under one title. They are all Magnolia... Magnolia Farms, Magnolia Villas, Magnolia Homes, Magnolia Market, etc. All of the qualities I listed in the paragraph above come out in the visual elements of their business (logo, designs, products), as well as how they do business. They've created a name for themselves that people associate with the specific qualities of the Gaines family. If it was easy enough for me, a person who has never met either of them, to get a sense of who they are just by observing their work, then they have effectively branded.
THAT is the secret that makes life easier for the business owner. When you can gather all of your projects and products under the heading of one brand that simply flows out of who you are, you've found your sweet spot, and it becomes easy to wear all the different hats that already fit you perfectly.
So, how does that apply to you? What can you take away?
For business owners, I'd say it's important to periodically reevaluate the message being sent to customers and clients through your brand to make sure it gives them a sense of the person behind the business. Focusing on using the things you know and love to do business will make work easier and more enjoyable and will create a common thread that runs through all your projects.
If you are interested in starting a business, ask yourself questions about your passions, your strengths and your values and think of ways to incorporate them into your brand. Make who you are a visual experience as well with your logo and other design elements.
Even if you don't have a business or a blog, you still attach your name to a life. Everything you do flows out of who you are and what you believe. Being aware of the things that make you YOU and choosing tasks accordingly can only help you succeed in everything you undertake. Across all jobs and all interaction with others utilize your passions, strengths and values.
If you aren't interested in checking out Fixer Upper on HGTV by now, just watch the teaser video below. They're so cute. I know you'll enjoy experiencing Chip & Joanna's brand. :)
*this post is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with the Gaines family or HGTV and is based on my opinions alone. All photos in this post are from magnoliahomes.net