Coming in first this year is Southwest Airlines, which also ranked first last year.
It's followed by Apple, UPS, Intuit, and the Apple iPhone. The biggest surprise is Intuit, which went from #14 to #4 in a year. "Intuit launched a vision called 'how to grow your business'," says Godfrey Phillips, VP of research at ACBJ. "Not 'our business'...'your business'. That's a statement of commitment."
Another big jump was made by Korean conglomerate LG, going from #24 to #14. This fits my theory that we are embarking on the Korean era, as so many companies and brands from Korea or Korean Americans are gaining ground: Hyundai, Kia, Samsung, Forever 21, Pinkberry, K.J. Choi, Anthony Kim.
But I digress...
Five brands broke into the top 25 for the first time: Best Buy, FedEx Office, Courtyard by Marriott, Motorola and Hilton. Brands which lost some ground include FedEx (as opposed to FedEx Office), Sony, HP Printers and HP computers, Marriott (as opposed to just Courtyard) and JetBlue.
Why do the opinions of small and medium business owners matter? Portfolio.com says data suggest they'll spend $1.83 trillion this year and they are "widely expected to fuel the country's economic recovery over the next five years."
There aren't many newer brands on the list. "In bad times, people turn to traditional brands," says Phillips. "They pretend to give new brands some opportunity, but if it's your business on the line, you're not going to try anything new. Bad times are good for old brands."