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  • Writer's pictureLive Oak Management

From Humble Beginnings: Magnolia’s Use of Storytelling Marketing

By Meghan Kimberling, Creative Content Producer

Successful brands often have compelling stories to tell. Nike was first operated out of the trunk of a car and Microsoft originated in a suburban Albuquerque garage. These brands have become huge conglomerates, but their humble beginnings are inspiring to young entrepreneurs and have attracted faithful communities with their humanizing and commendable backgrounds. The Magnolia “empire” under the reign of Chip and Joanna Gaines is a prime, new-age example of this storytelling marketing technique.

It is a fairytale story of husband and wife building a dream from the ground up. First introduced on the HGTV show “Fixer Upper,” the Gaines family stole the hearts of many. From the humble idea of “making Waco beautiful one home at a time”, the Gaines’ have expanded and now own a considerable slice of the picturesque Texas town. Alongside the Magnolia Market at the Silos, the Gaines’ also have multiple other business ventures: paint, carpet, wallpaper and furniture lines, Magnolia Realty, The Magnolia Journal magazine, luxury vacation rentals, a restaurant, a bakery, and multiple New York Times best-selling books (not to mention five kids). These accomplishments did not come overnight, and the couple makes that clear by sharing every step of their journey.

The Gaines’ and the Magnolia enterprise have been strategic in the use of their story to grow their community and paint the couple as homegrown American celebrities. Sharing their company history honestly and transparently makes the couple emotionally attainable and trustworthy to the consumer. The brand involves their audience in their pursuits and advertises the fact that they value all customers, employees and neighbors like family.

Part of the Magnolia Manifesto reads: “We believe in doing work that we love and, in choosing that, nudging others toward doing what they love…” The Manifesto is an integral part of how the organization operates and views the world. The company’s mission is clear and authentic – adjectives not easily used to describe other big names in business.

The bottom line: Magnolia goes further. They consistently engage with fans over social media, and their ‘human kindness’ campaign is just an example.

Chip Gaines announced his dedication to kindness on the Magnolia Blog after weeks of “shooting & stabbing” headlines. Rather than resorting to social media, he provided a chance for fans to get involved with fliers for people to share simple kind acts and inspire others to spread the kindness. This campaign is not only uplifting and collaborative, but connects directly back to the Magnolia Manifesto. Being able to tie this campaign to recent events, organizational values and audience action really makes it an inspirational and responsive effort by a company with unlimited reach.

Effectively telling a brand story attracts consumers with similar values to create a tight community with the brand name at the center. A new kind of word-of-mouth – marketing with storytelling – markets the human aspects of an organization, warts and all. It is clear that consumers love to love it.

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