What Makes a Signature Story?

I was watching a video from the Stanford Graduate School of Business’ YouTube channel on The Power of Signature Stories by Jennifer Aaker and David Aaker. Both of them as speakers were very engaging and I watched the whole video without increasing the speed of the video.

According to David Aaker, a Signature Story must be authentic, intriguing, involving, narrative and have a strategic message. To have an effective advertisement today, a signature story must be woven into the advertisement. It can’t be a sales pitch. The viewer must be able to feel connected to the advertisement. It is also not for the advertisement to go the emotionally manipulative route–the audience will feel it’s not authentic. People are looking for the authentic factor and they will be able to recognize a fake one from far away.

So? How does this translate to digital? On digital, content is king. According to David Aaker, content is stories. To be able to write stories whether fiction or non-fiction in a compelling, authentic, and intriguing way will set you forward. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about subjects such as theoretical physics to art, the way you write, show, or talk about the subject will determine how much of an audience’s attention you can capture.

On a personal level, how can you create a signature story? Jennifer Aaker lays out 5 ways you can have one.

  1. Carve out areas of incompetence

    • The best stories always come from areas where you fail or are just not that good enough. Talking about the things you do well can end up being boring after a while. So, for variety, look at all the areas where you feel you are inadequate.
  2. Be sneaky (brand things)

    • Brand everyday things you do. You can have “Special Days”, “Sunday FunDays”, “Saturday Night Sleepovers”, etc. Even if what you do on those days are boring, you will end up remembering those days because of the brand name.
  3. Seek highs and lows

    • Life is not always about the highs as well as it’s not just about the lows. If you are having a really good day (you just got a promotion and you were able to get something from that new trendy dessert place), you will eventually have a low point (as you were walking home from your good day, you stepped in dog poop and your umbrella decided to snap at that specific point–you are drenched).
  4. Bank stories (pithy or short)

    • Save your stories in a notebook, a phone app, journal, or random napkins. You just need to have a selection of stories that you can look back on.
  5. Create 6-word stories for fun

    • If all else fails and you think nothing interesting happened to you that day, make 6-word stories for fun. Think about moments of change and transformation. An example used in the video is “Baby shoes. Never Worn. For Sale.”

All in all, I really liked the video and I learned something that will be with me forever.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s