There are two main ways we process information about brands, one is actively dealing with facts and the other is information we absorb and deal with without consciously processing it. There are various terms for these but I tend to use Active Involvement Processing (AIP) and Passive Involvement Processing (PIP).
For example I can give you a lot of information about, say, the Mercedes brand – it’s a German manufacturer, has a particular range of vehicles, its history, pricing, dealer network, residual values etc. You can actively use that information to make decisions by AIP. But there is a lot of knowledge you have about the Mercedes brand in terms of its values, ethos and personality that you have acquired while never being consciously involved in processing – you acquired it by PIP.
The first kind of knowledge is very accessible to normal marketing communications techniques, advertising, PR, literature etc. – its the ‘what’ we tell customers. PIP is about far more – it is not just about the ‘voice’ and the ‘how’ we tell it, but it is about the organisation and products or services themselves. Once again it is about brand relationships.
Increasingly this is an area that can be explored by engagement with social internet: becoming involved in and listening to the conversations about our brands and products.