Crafting Your Brand’s Signature Story with David Aaker

david aaker on brand

“Digital is content, content is stories.” Listeners of the podcast know that I am a big fan of storytelling as a brand building tool. And I’m not alone. David Aaker has had a storied career in branding and marketing, as both an academic at UC Berkeley and Vice-Chairman of Prophet. He’s also the author of 17 books including his latest, Creating Signature Stories. We discussed all of this and more on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.

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About David Aaker

David Aaker, the Vice-Chairman of Prophet and Professor Emeritus of Marketing Strategy at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, is the winner of four career awards for contributions to the science of marketing (the Paul D. Converse Award), marketing strategy (the Vijay Mahajan Award), the theory and practice of marketing (the Buck Weaver Award), and Brilliance in Marketing (NYAMA Marketing Hall of Fame). He has published over 100 articles and 17 books including Strategic Market Management, Managing Brand Equity, Building Strong Brands, Brand Leadership (co-authored with Erich Joachimsthaler) Brand Portfolio Strategy, From Fargo to the World of Brands, Spanning Silos, Brand Relevance, Aaker on Branding, and his latest book Creating Signature Stories.

His books have sold well over one million copies and have been translated into eighteen languages. Named as one of the top five most important marketing/business gurus in 2007, Professor Aaker has won awards for the best article in the California Management Review and (twice) in the Journal of Marketing. A recognized authority on brand equity and brand strategy, he is. A regular columnist for AMA’s Marketing News, he writes regularly at Linkedin and

Episode Highlights

Branding doesn’t start and stop with your advertising. “Brand has to permeate everything. The most effective thing they (VPs, CMOs) can do is stimulate conversation.” Breaking down organizational silos is key to building a standout brand.

“Digital is content, content is stories.” As the saying goes — facts tell, stories sell. As David’s new book Creating Signature Stories explores, if you wrap what you have to say in a story it persuades people and is recalled more effectively.

Which brands are effective storytellers? David shared how story helped Barclays rehab their reputation after being the least-trusted brand. He also points to soap brands Lifebuoy and Dove for their ability to tell bigger stories. “That emotion gets transferred to the brand.”

Looking back on a long career in marketing, what would David say to marketers today? “The principles are the same — segmentation, positioning, putting consumers first. The levers are different. Social media has changed everything. That’s a problem and an opportunity.”

What’s one key skill that marketers today need? “I was a statistician for the first 15 years and there’s a lot of potential there today with analytics. And if you have a flair for strategy and creativity.”

What brand has made David smile recently? “Knoor Soup did this marvelous promotion all about flavor.” The soup company hypothesized that people with compatible flavor profiles have a better chance of falling in love. Talk about telling a bigger story!

To learn more, check out David’s blog posts at and his book Aaker on Branding, which he describes as the Reader’s Digest summary of all of this writing.

As We Wrap …

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

On Brand is sponsored by my new book Brand NowDiscover the seven dynamics to help your brand stand out in our crowded, distracted world. Order now and get special digital extras. Learn more.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!