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TMCNet:  Portfolio.com Makes Findings of Coveted ACBJ Brand Ranking Public for First Time

[April 12, 2010]

Portfolio.com Makes Findings of Coveted ACBJ Brand Ranking Public for First Time

NEW YORK, April 12, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Portfolio.com, the national business news site that provides services for small and mid-sized business executives, today published comprehensive findings of American City Business Journals' highly regarded "SMB Insights: The Business of Brands." This annual survey asks small and mid-sized business owners to rate more than 200 business brands across seven key attributes in order to determine overall rankings of brand strength.

Some key findings of the brand ranking: Southwest Airlines retains the top brand spot for 2010; and five brands broke into the Top 25 for the first time: Best Buy, FedEx Office, Courtyard by Marriot, Motorola and Hilton.

Perceptions of brand ethics rebounded versus 2009 suggesting that business owners are once again having more trust in brands.

The leaders in normally stable recession-proof brands saw significant shake-ups with Cisco and HP Computers jumping into the top 5 for computer hardware; and Verizon and AT&T now leading telecom brands in the survey.

"This year's findings have some of the most important new information to emerge for brands in a decade," said Alan Ives, Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing for bizjournals, Inc. "The SMB category is widely seen as driving this economic recovery and brands need to understand how their attitudes and values are changing, as well as the most important aspects of their demographics." Small- to mid-sized businesses prefer brands that value them as customers, added Godfrey Phillips, Vice President for Research at ACBJ and leader of the study since its inception. "Brands need to realize that it's not just consumers who will help drive them to success. This recovering SMB market is playing an enormous role in bringing in money for these brands." According to data compiled annually by ACBJ, spending from small- and mid-sized businesses is expected to reach $1.83 trillion this year and executives' optimism on future business prospects is rebounding to pre-crisis levels. Small- and mid-sized business executives are widely expected to fuel the country's economic recovery over the next five years.

"SMB Insights: The Business of Brands" charts key demographics of the coveted small and mid-sized business owner market and exclusively ranks brands in six business categories based on those SMB and entrepreneur opinions. Respondents rate more than 200 brands on seven attributes: differentiation, relevance, customer services, leadership, momentum, value, and ethics. Brands are then classified within one of six categories: Business Services, Financial & Insurance, Retail, Technology, Travel, and Telecommunications. The study is now in its sixth year.

WHY THE WINNERS ARE WINNING The biggest surprise in the 2010 study, according to Phillips: the jump for financial software and services provider Intuit, which vaulted from #14 to #4 in the ranking.

"Intuit launched a vision called 'how to grow your business,'" Phillips explains. "Not 'our business'... 'your business'. That's a statement of commitment. And it's a classic example of how committing to the SMB market strengthens your brand with this market." The best news: all brands saw slight upward movement across all attributes compared to last year, with the most substantial positive movement coming on ethics. "It's a very good sign that trust is increasing in brands, other perceptions will eventually climb as well," added Mr. Phillips.

Also of note: Phillips says "In bad times, people turn to traditional brands. 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." The top five brands for 2010: Southwest, Apple, UPS, Intuit and the Apple iPhone.

general study findings published for first time This year marks the first time the study's general findings are being shared with public media. Demographics and brand rankings from the study have historically been shared in private meetings with chief marketing officers, brand managers and media planners directly. Occasionally, geographic and other slices have been published by the company's local bizjournals properties.

Today, Portfolio.com presents both topline results as well as category-specific breakdowns within an editorial package that contains: A main story focusing on the top 25 brands: explaining how and why they made it onto the list and trends in brand movement.

An in-depth Q&A with economist Godfrey Phillips An interactive visualization of details for the Top 25 brands and a full presentation of data for all 272 brands measured in the survey.

Throughout the rest of the week, Portfolio.com will be posting additional content on how businesses can build and protect their brands as part of a week-long series on branding.

About Portfolio.com Portfolio.com is a national business news site that provides services for small and mid-sized business executives. Comprising original, in-depth reporting, thought-provoking insights, colorful features, exclusive analysis of custom research, and an intelligent business-news filtering tool, Portfolio.com is the first national business media outlet dedicated solely to delivering actionable news and information to this coveted audience. Portfolio.com relaunched in December 2009 as the information destination for business executives, insiders and strategists within the growing and profitable American City Business Journals.

About American City Business Journals American City Business Journals engages 13.5 million decision makers each month through the company's 40 newsweeklies, 42 Web sites, digital newsletters and more than 400 local events across the country. It is the largest publisher of business-to-business information in the United States. More than 4 million readers each week engage with exclusive, in-depth coverage of local business communities; some 9 million unique monthly users engage with the company's digital content; more than 11 million e-newsletters are delivered each month via email; and the company sees more than 1 million mobile page views each month. American City is a unit of Advance Publications Inc., which also operates Condé Nast Magazines, Parade magazine, Fairchild Publications, the Golf Digest companies, Newhouse Newspapers and cable television interests.

Media contacts: Maggie Duquin / Sharon Oh Brainerd Communicators, Inc.

(212) 986-6667 duquin@braincomm.com oh@braincomm.com SOURCE Portfolio.com

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