The mind of the consumer can be thought of as being continuously engaged in the process of defining the self and orienting it with respect to the outside world. A brand’s image is constructed in relationship to the consumer’s concept of self. A brand’s positioning is determined with reference to the marketing universe of competitors. However it is the dramatic tension between the inner-directed process of brand image building and the outer-directed process of positioning a product in the marketplace that energizes the yin-yang relationship of advertising as it is received by the mind of the consumer.

Information theorists suggest the existence of two types of information that are present in all messages. The first type of information is semantic information. It is logical, structured and translatable into a foreign language or from one channel of communication to another. Importantly, from a behaviorist perspective, semantic information serves to prepare actions in the world (e.g. purchase behavior.) From an advertising standpoint, it may be thought of as the strategic message content of an ad that positions the brand.

The second type of information is esthetic information. It is specific to the channel that transmits it and is profoundly changed by being transferred from one channel to another. This is the information in a picture that cannot be translated into words. It is the information in a piece of music that cannot be captured with verbatim playback. It is the poetry of language. Esthetic information, as it pertains to emotions and not concepts, might be thought of as personal information that shapes internal states of mind. From an advertising standpoint, it is the execution that contributes to brand image.

The basic units of information for the semantic system are facts or selling propositions. They are stored in a memory system known as the “semantic” memory system. Information recorded in this system is organized conceptually.

The basic units of information for the episodic system are events or episodes. They are stored in a memory system known as the “episodic” memory system. Because information in the episodic system is organized by time, narrative or storytelling is the organizational structure of this memory system.

Importantly, events recorded in the episodic system always involve the rememberer, either as one of the actors or as an observer of the event.

In our experience, both types of information are present in every ad to a degree and both appear necessary to create a branded memory.