Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

Everyone knows that guy who tells the same jokes all the time.  It doesn’t matter where he is or whom he’s with, he routinely pulls out his tried-and-true “killer material” which he hopes will evoke the same laughter as it did the first time around. There are three types of reactions:

1.) We can pretend we’ve never heard the joke and laugh as if we haven’t. 2.) Beat him to the punchline. 3.) Or, slowly and quietly dismiss ourselves from the conversation before the joke is finished.

All options make us uncomfortable and none make for a healthy conversation. Consumers mentally cycle through the same options when they hear a familiar brand say the same thing (or slightly “new and improved” version thereof) in the same ways it has before.

Sadly, for decades most marketers have been instructed that the best thing to do for their brand is to say the same thing over and over again.

What’s more important than using repetition to burn a brand into a consumer’s memory is giving them something worth remembering in the first place.  Real financial gains these days are being realized by a handful of what we call "Renaissance Brands" who consistently redefine their product offering, service approach, and marketing style – not beat consumers over the head with the same, worn-out sales pitch.

Warning: Your brand may induce vomiting.

Okay, hopefully not vomiting. But maybe greed, arrogance or gluttony. A recent study reveals that children are more likely to share candy with others when they see Santa’s cap. Apparently it’s a symbol that promotes the spirit of kindness and generosity. The mere site of a Toys ‘r Us logo has the opposite effect.

The best brands actually help bring out our better selves. They have a purpose beyond simply making money. And they understand the need to shift marketing efforts from a consumption-model to a contribution-model.

Don't stop at asking yourself what you want your customer to do. Ask yourself what you think your brand can help them become.