Storytelling is a great tool for businesses seeking to connect with their customers and employees, a Stanford expert says.

Some stories in particular — signature stories — are extraordinarily powerful in shaping a company’s brand, culture, and future.

A strong one can transform customers’ experiences, re-envision products and services, and spark new business opportunities. Such inspiring, clarifying narratives help people relate to a company and typically include “heroes.” They may be even more important than many people realize, contributing to a company’s overall strategic planning, and not just advertising.

Marketing Professor Jennifer Aaker of Stanford Graduate School of Business has co-written a new paper with her father, David Aaker, on the power of storytelling to advance a company’s brand. “The development of signature stories can be a vehicle to understand what a brand or organization should stand for at its core,” wrote Jennifer Aaker in a new article published in California Management Review. “Signature stories get beyond functional benefits by providing a perspective in which other richer concepts can have a voice.”Examples of signature stories include a young John Nordstrom agreeing to refund a customer’s two “well-worn” snow tires — he later went on to build the Nordstrom company on such a “customer first” policy, according to the paper. Another was when the Molson Canadian Beer Company showed how it shares a passion for hockey with its customers by building a hockey rink in a remote part of the Canadian Rockies and flying in customers for a game there.

Source: Strong ‘Signature Stories’ Can Shape More Than a Company’s Brand | Stanford Graduate School of Business