There’s something biblical about the images of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan early this morning (as well as the shock effects felt in Hawaii and the US west coast). I am not making light of it because it is a horrifying tragedy – all you had to do was wake up to the morning news and see those images to understand that.

But that’s my point. The images themselves demonstrate how much we bring to the table when we receive any kind of communication, whether it’s a video image of a tide of water sweeping across Japan farmlands or a simple marketing message. We bring ourselves into it.

So much of marketing today does not tap into the emotional recalls that we have stored in ourselves. That’s why so many messages go right through us.

Occasionally at speaking events, I’ll test the audience with the first note of a sound (like the first strains of Monday Night Football) and it is amazing how quickly most get it right away. What is even more interesting the feelings that are associated with it. Like hearing an old song or smelling freshly baked cinnamon rolls.

When something does that – and a marketing message or a brand promise can – it becomes part of ourselves (because we recognize something about it that taps into our storage of memory) and is more than just memorable. We own it and it has an emotional, which is just what those tsunami images had.