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79: David Aaker on the power of stories and the fight for the soul of capitalism

In this week’s episode of “Marketing Today,” Alan talks with David Aaker, who is widely recognized as the father of modern branding. He’s the vice chairman of Prophet, a global marketing and branding consultancy, and, in 2015, he was inducted into the American Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame. He’s written 16 books, and the most recent is “Creating Signature Stores: Strategic Messaging that Energizes, Persuades and Inspires.

In explaining his belief in the power of stories as a tool of persuasion, Aaker says, “Stories are so much better at changing perceptions and at changing attitudes and even in gaining attention than are facts.” He goes on to say, “That’s how stories persuade, they inhibit counterarguing, they attract attention, and they allow people to deduce their own conclusions.”

And, as Aaker explains, the stories companies create and live into provide meaning for their employees, too: “Employees are looking for meaning in their work, and they’re looking to be associated with an organization they respect and admire. So it’s really important for organizations to provide some kind of higher purpose. And to communicate that higher purpose, stories are a lot better than just assertions.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today” podcast include:

  • Aaker reveals the inspiration behind his latest book. (2:37)
  • Aaker cites Barclays as an example of why stories are so much better than facts. (5:01)
  • Aaker defines “signature stories” and how they are different from simple narratives. (7:24)
  • Drawing distinction between a signature story and a brand’s purpose. (8:56)
  • Signature stories should be intriguing, authentic and involving. (11:43)
  • “The big challenge is to get people to recognize the power of stories.” (15:53)
  • Aaker shares a signature story of his own. (17:55)
  • “We’re engaged in a fight for the soul of capitalism.” (20:37)