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Signature Stories As a Research Tool

Signature Stories As a Research Tool

David Aaker

Signature Stories

Conventional research tools are not the only means marketers have to uncovering customer sentiment. In fact, traditional research has some limitations. Survey research often reflects respondents who are unable to provide informed judgments, and it generates findings driven in part by halo effects that limit textured insights. Qualitative research is subjective and limited by the topics that surface. And quantitative research often suffers from inadequate dependent variables (an overreliance on what is available, which is usually short-term performance) and independent variables that lack variation.

Reviewing or uncovering signature stories can be a powerful research tool because stories are often vivid, textured pictures of an organization. They can help:

  • Determine customers’ perceptions, loyalty drivers, use experiences and brand relationships.
  • Understand employees’ knowledge and approval of the organization, its values and its culture.
  • Find opportunities that will support new offerings or programs. 
  • Create or refine an organizational purpose or brand vision.
  • Identify programs that will break out and be on brand. 

Here are some common marketing objectives that can be realized with signature story research.


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David Aaker, sometimes called the Father of Modern Branding, is the author of 18 books and over 100 articles on branding and business strategy. He is the Vice-Chair of Prophet, a branding, growth, and transformation consulting company.