3 things I have learned by reading “Creating signature stories”

The story goes: “There are these two young fishes swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ And the two young fish swims on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?’”

Stories are our water. We live immersed in stories, dream in stories, and communicate via stories. Stories are the plot of our lives and the quickest way to build relationships. Why is that the case?

Our brains are naturally wired for stories and, according to experts, this is due to evolutionary reasons. Stories make wisdom stick, thus helping human beings to preserve and pass information from one person to the other. They help create connections.


(David Foster Wallace, This is water)

Now, if we think businesses are made by people for other people, using storytelling should be a no-brainer. Especially in the digital age, where the pressure to stay relevant is high. But…

I recently stumbled on a book written by one of the most notorious marketing gurus, David Aaker, Creating signature stories. Strategic messaging that persuades, energizes and inspires (Morgan James Publishing, £12.95), that focuses on these aspects whilst providing us with useful insights.

For example, the persuasive nature of a story relies on how we deduce its logic by ourselves. Indeed, self-discovery is much more powerful than having people talking to you. We are curious.

Content is king, but it has to be handled with care, especially in the digital sphere where audiences are not passive. They are in control.

Most importantly, though, is the question: if telling stories in a business context should be a no-brainer, why are they not used more extensively? Because, Aaker argues, creating a story and a signature story in particular, that is, “an intriguing, authentic, involving narrative”, is not easy. Organisations need to nurture such an ability.

With plenty of case studies and practical tips on designing signature stories, I think this is the place to go for the ones involved in building a brand.