Kip Tindell and the "Actions Speak Louder Than Words" Approach to Branding

Kip Tindell, featured today on the Big Think homepage, is CEO of the Container Store. He's also an evangelist for integrity-based sales and brand-building through sales rather than marketing.

Kip Tindell is a breath of fresh air. The affable Chairman and CEO of the Container Store is an evangelist for integrity-based sales and brand promotion through action rather than words. To explain what that means, Tindell's most recent Big Think interview places a keen focus on constructing a sales philosophy upon a moral foundation. Many of the ideas shared in the video are expounded upon in Tindell's latest book, fittingly titled Uncontainable. You can check out the interview just below:


While he doesn't overtly use the phrase "action speaks louder than words," Tindell's sales philosophy is steeped in this axiom. In today's business world you see a lot of companies employ contrived schemes for brand building that have little to do with the actual selling of a product. This ranges from social media campaigns to the dispatching of "brand ambassadors" whose sole role is to talk up their employer. You can tell in his passion for sales that Tindell thinks talk is cheap. His strategy for growing Container Store's brand, to make people believe that his company is the best at what it does, is to actually be the best at what it does.

That all begins with sales.

Tindell uses the example of a man in the desert. If you find a man lost in the desert, you could just give him water and send him on his way. That's the very least one could do for him. Tindell calls it "chickening out." What he'd prefer his salespeople to do is to place a moral imperative on the act of selling. It's on the salesperson to think "what does this person really need? what can I do to get them on track -- to solve their problem? Don't just give the man water. See if he needs a phone to call his family. Determine if he needs medical attention. Utilize your resources to send the man on the road to recovery. Make it your aim to solve his problems because, if you do, he will remain loyal to you. It's a veritable win-win.

At the Container Store, the same goes for selling tie racks, trash cans, and shoe horns:

"We're trying to get what we call the customer dance. Then you have a really delighted customer who's coming back quickly; who’s so delighted with her closet that she's showing her sister-in-law and her next-door neighbor that closet. And then they're coming in because they want that feeling too. And they're like emotionally thrilled with this closet or pantry or toy storage solution or whatever and that's how we build our business in an old market or in a new market.
And ultimately what people want is they want to feel emotional about the brands and the product."

In a way, Tindell has the same goal for his salesforce as other companies do for their brand ambassadors (it's one of the reasons why he pays his employees so well). Rather than branding for the sake of branding, the Container Store builds customer loyalty through its products and the way in which it sells those products. This is brand excitement in its most organic form: no bells and whistles, just a robust sales philosophy intent on making the customer happy. 

Because when it comes to branding, as with many things, actions speak louder than words.

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