Attention all Marketing and Brand Managers: We know our marketing and we know our brand. More importantly, we know who our target buyer, audience and groups are. That’s important and is what makes for great creative. But there’s a catch – we suffer from brand intimacy. By knowing so much through living our brand, day in and day out, we forget that our target doesn’t know our brand intimately and probably couldn’t care less. We need to make them care. The only way I know how to do that is through good advertising and communications for them… not for me. Too often in a boardroom environment decisions are made about what works and what doesn’t without market research (but that’s a post for another time!). More to the point, many day-to-day decisions or the way to go ahead on smaller projects are based on what I refer to as “internalized judgment”. Whether you’re developing a full-scale advertising campaign, billboard creative or just doing a one-off brochure, the question you need to ask when assessing your advertisement is: “Does it makes sense to someone other than myself?”

Here’s a quick checklist to make sure that your ads and communications are not a victim of brand intimacy!

Have ad sense: In other words, is it clear? Clarity is very important in any communications piece. By being brand intimate, sometimes we feel that we don’t need to “spell it out” to our audience… or we just skip the details, leaving the message too vague for our target to decipher.

Don’t talk to yourself: Take a step back and remember the first time you walked in the door to your new job and had to get to know and understand your brand. Remember how you thought about it… before intimately knowing it. This applies to judging creative ads, headline copy and even segmentation. Often companies refer to their business segments in categories driven by manufacturing or by organization divisions. Consumers don’t see these segments how business sees them. Be very cautious of this because it can make or break your brand’s success.

Fatigue syndrome: Admit it. Whenever you see your brand initiatives, whether it’s a TV ad, a billboard or a social media campaign, you pay attention. Of course you do! As you should! But understand that your niche market or mass target groups don’t. It takes time for them to even acknowledge your ad, even though they’ve seen it once or twice already. Remember, the ad fatigue syndrome effects Brand Managers, Marketing Directors, Marketing Managers and Vice Presidents of Marketing and Sales… and everyone else in the organization. But, it doesn’t affect your consumers.

So the next time your brand agency asks for your opinion on communications… don’t leave your hat on… put on your target market’s hat instead!