Here's a little something I came across at the weekend, which is a good example of why brands and businesses need to stand for something in this world of interchangeable functionality; to have something they care about and believe in enough that it sets them apart.
Now this is to do with basketball, which I have to admit I know pretty much nothing about, but I think it makes the point well. Stephon Marbury is a star player with the New York Knicks, and like many stars he has launched a pair of 'self-designed' boots. However, unlike a pair of Air Jordan's, which will set you back around $200 (£100), Maybury's boots retail at under $15 (about £7.90), despite being made to the same quality as the big names. As he says "$200 to buy a pair of sneakers - that's groceries for the week".
Which all seems to fit well with Maybury's positioning in the game. He is Known (apparently) as a bit of a maverick, not always getting along with other players, but is also considered one of the most generous of America's sports stars. And in a world of functionally similar 'products', this sets the Maybury brand apart. In this instance, he is not just endorsing the boots but will be wearing them as well...without being paid a fee to do so (a share of sales probably helps though!).
A lesson for us all: standing for something sets you apart. But standing FOR something is an active choice; it needs to make a difference, to have cost and sacrifices involved, to alienate some people, to be AGAINST some things. And are we brave enough to go there?