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Great Branding is About Meaning, Not Stuff — “Capital Gaines” Book Report

Headshot of the Author Matt Kreikemeier
Cover of Capital Gaines audio book on iPhone

People Don’t Buy What You Do, They Buy Why You Do It

Anyone that has worked with Leverage is likely to have heard me reference Simon Sinek’s famous Ted Talk where he speaks about how great companies inspire action by having an authentic mission rooted in purpose and meaning. Throughout his keynote, he emphasizes this core idea that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” In other words, Apple does not have a cult following because they make great products, they have a cult following because they believe in thinking differently, and when you use one of their products, you too can change the world

We believe that truly great branding is about harnessing the inner passion that drives why you wake up and work every day, and so we challenge all of our clients to deeply explore why they do what they do.

Meaning, Not Stuff

That brings me to Chip Gaines’ book “Capital Gaines” where he shares his story of entrepreneurship (it’s a very quick, motivational read – I would recommend it). Starting with a small landscaping company and a laundry business side hustle, Chip, with his wife Joanna, have now built the brand empire we know as Magnolia.

In this memoir, Chip shares a lot of interesting stories, but one piece of advice jumped off the pages and reminded me of Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” advice we often share with our clients. In discussing the reason for their success in home renovations (which is ultimately what would catapult their brand to the masses), Chip explains how every design decision Joanna makes is rooted in some sort of meaning. They don’t just fill homes with “stuff” to take up space. Jo, as he refers to his wife, puts care and thought into every decor decision, ensuring the final product is personalized for each home owner. This attention to detail and concern for authenticity makes every client feel special.

In other words, their “why” is that they believe a home is a deeply personal, almost sacred space. It’s not just a place where you eat and sleep, it’s a place where you live. They believe that every person deserves a home where they feel safe, where they can look around and be reminded of moments of joy from their life. They believe that every home should be filled with care and love, and so they take it upon themselves to capture the essence of each client and express that essence from room to room. “What” they do is renovate homes, but the passion for “why” they do it is what draws people to their work.

Meaningful Marketing

This very much resonates with our mission as a company. We believe that every company deserves a partner that will provide meaning and value, not stuff. We believe that there is not (and should not be) a one-size-fits-all approach to great branding and marketing. We don’t make the same recommendations for every client. We don’t force our favorite tactics into every marketing strategy. We don’t build websites full of flashy fluff and bloat for no reason.

Instead, we focus on getting to know you, your needs, your audience, and your goals. Only then can we make meaningful recommendations to help elevate your brand, product, or service. The same way Chip and Joanna adorn the walls of their home renovation projects with personalized art and thoughtful decor, we believe the best marketing strategies are grounded in thoughtful, personalized tactics.

Key Takeaway: Focus On Why

We encourage businesses to worry less about communicating “what” you do. Instead, begin to put your passion at the forefront of your communication strategy. Focus first on your mission, values, and beliefs as a company. Consumers will almost certainly take notice. Rather than simply earning new customers, they’ll connect with your product or service in a more personal way, becoming loyal ambassadors of your brand.

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