What Fixer Upper Can Teach Us About Branding
I don't know about you, but I can't get enough of HGTV's Fixer Upper. From Chip and Joanna's gorgeous renovations to the adorable Gaines family, I know I'm not the only one that's contemplated packing up my belongings and moving to Waco. Just kidding (not kidding).
Fixer Upper has won the hearts of would-be homeowners all over the country and beyond. And how could they not with those precious kiddos, heaps of shiplap, and all of those farm animals!? Their businesses have grown tremendously over the last few years too. From their beginnings with a realty and reno business, they now also run a cozy b&b, a booming online shop, and a larger-than-life marketplace in a converted silo. They've even got a book on the horizon!
Are y'all ready to take on branding lessons from Fixer Upper?
Considering that the Gaines family has completely enchanted our homes and hearts, there's a lot to be learned from these beloved biz owners. So what branding lessons can you learn from Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper? Read on and find out, folks!
1. Function before beauty.
Something that always strikes me about Fixer Upper is Chip and Joanna's attention to function first. Whether it's creating the perfect kitchen flow, a mudroom that's the ideal family crafting space, or planting a 16 foot table outside for all of the backyard entertaining, the focus is always on creating spaces that work for their clients first.
There's an inherent beauty in spaces that are fine-tuned for usability, making the finished home that much more magical. Whether it's a pair of newlyweds, huge family, or even a bachelor, Chip and Jo seem to nail the function every time.
Takeaway: Function + beauty is a powerful combination. When your brand puts strategy and function first, the results are even more amazing.
2. Keep it classic.
A lot of other HGTV shows tend to go for more trendy aesthetics—granted it depends on the homeowners—but Joanna's design style is simple and classic. Fixer Upper seems to be a magnet for clients that appreciate timeless style and homes chock full of authentic charm.
While trendy design can definitely grab your attention, it's much more impressive when the character of a home can speak for itself. Joanna also adds personality to spaces by using ordinary objects and materials in unconventional ways, like those architectural elements she's always hanging on walls. It's classics like subway tile, farm sinks, and shiplap that never go out of style.
Takeaway: Classic style stands the test of time. When your brand employs a simple, refined style it takes on a sophistication that builds credibility for your business. Stick with timeless charm, and chances are you'll never need to rebrand again.
3. A great process is pure gold.
One of the many reasons Chip and Jo's clients adore them is their clear and consistent process. You can see this in the way each episode follows the same format—house hunt, purchase, demo, design renderings, renovation, finishing touches, and then the big reveal.
Beyond the consistency, what's priceless is that they keep their clients in the loop and guide them through every step of the way so there are no surprises, the trust and relationship thrive, and the project goes off without a hitch.
Takeaway: Hone your method and hold true to the process that works for your business. A solid process will put clients at ease, and is your recipe for success.
4. The magic is in the details.
While every home Chip and Jo touch ends up completely gorgeous and swoon-worthy, it's the tiny details that really make each one a home run. Joanna always incorporates the sweetest details that are tailored specifically to that client.
Sometimes that means a gallery wall of guitars and a canvas print of a song the husband wrote for his wife. Other times it means a tiny custom table where a daughter can work alongside her momma. Still other times, it's a bridge connecting the backyards of two best friends and their children.
Whatever that personal touch may be, that's what makes Fixer Upper renovations stand out. These aren't just pretty houses, their each client's perfect home crafted especially for them.
Takeaway: It's one thing to be great at what you do, but when you can make your clients feel truly understood and special that makes all the difference in the world. Those details are everything.
What branding lessons can you learn from Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper?
5. Be the expert.
“We find the worst house on the best block and turn it into our clients' dream home.” They're not kidding. A lot of the houses on Fixer Upper start out looking like they might fall down if you sneeze too hard nearby. How they manage to get the go-ahead from clients on such rough beginnings and then proceed to deliver a dream home is incredible. But that's part of the magic, right?
The secret to this trust and expertise is a whole lot of time, hustle, and experience. Through years of fixer uppers, Chip and Jo know exactly how to take the reins as professionals, and their clients can see the portfolio of past successes that back them up.
Joanna runs all her designs by their clients first and even allows them to put their stamp on it by choosing one of the finishing touches, which makes for some seriously invested and excited clients.
Takeaway: You don't need to be stuffy or robotic to be professional, just be someone your clients can trust. Guide them through the process, deliver on everything you promise, and exceed their expectations whenever possible.
6. The real pros shine when things get messy.
Unexpected twists and surprises happen all the time in life and in business, especially when it comes to fixer upper renovations. Sure, it would be awesome if nothing ever went wrong, but that's just not realistic.
So when Chip and Jo find 2 extra chimneys or water floods the garage-turned-would-be-music-room, they handle it immediately. They call the client right away, calmly explain the problem in terms the client can understand, and propose solutions. Then they do what it takes to fix it.
Takeaway: Open communication is essential. When something goes wrong, don't curl up and wait for the sky to fall. It's the mark of a true professional to address conflicts quickly, with honesty and transparency.
7. We lift each other up.
Something that's become really apparent to me since starting my branding biz is the amazing sense of camaraderie within the small business community. You can really see this at work on Fixer Upper.
Chip and Joanna Gaines are constantly sharing the spotlight and looping in their talented friends on each project. You can tell there's a lot of Waco pride there, and I absolutely love how they support and showcase other local businesses. With this approach, everyone wins.
Takeaway: In the small business community, it pays to support and encourage one another. When one of us succeeds, we can pave the way for others to do the same.
8. Build the suspense & exceed expectations.
Throughout each episode of Fixer Upper, we get little peeks of brilliance leading up to the final reveal. They show us only bits and pieces, which is totally intentional. We get a paint color here, some tiling and a rustic vignette there. Joanna's design renderings give us a pretty solid idea of how the final space will be situated, but even that pales in comparison to the finished home.
Sharing these sneak peeks along the way builds suspense for the big reveal. It keeps the audience excited and invested, just like when we see the couple's final reaction in coming attractions throughout the episode. This suspense reaches an all-time high with the giant poster of the “before” house, which they use in a dramatically wonderful reveal of the “after.” This reminds their clients of where they started, and sets the stage for a brilliant unveiling.
Takeaway: Share bits and pieces of your brand's journey. Sneak peaks of your projects will get your audience excited, and keep them tuned into what you're working on. Orchestrate each peek to paint a picture leading up to big announcements and reveals. Don't be ashamed of “the before” or the messy middle, since it shows just how amazing the evolution has been.
9. When you put your whole heart into your work, it shows.
Since the beginning, it's been clear that the Gaines family's priorities are steadfast and pure. They value their loved ones and are guided by an unshakeable faith. With these values at the root of all they do, you can see that love spring into each new venture as the Magnolia empire grows.
Takeaway: When your brand is rooted in strong values that guide each new venture, you can't lose. That purpose and passion is contagious, and it will shine through.
10. Trust the journey & enjoy the ride.
Personified by the magnificent Chipper Gaines, it's essential to have fun with the process and stay positive no matter the circumstances. Things may not always go our way, but life is too short to not enjoy every minute.
Each experience comes into our lives for a reason, and we need to trust that journey. Someday it will all make sense. In the meantime, Chip and Jo remind us to count our blessings, have faith, and treasure the moments that make this journey worth taking.
Takeaway: Owning a business is an unpredictable adventure. You can't always control the course, but you can make a commitment to enjoy the ride and find the light in every situation.