My Rendition of Vanity Fair’s ‘My Stuff’


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Most valuable brands: Interbrand's, and mine

I love the global brand scoreboard that Interbrand puts together every year, listing the top 100 global brands. They have strict criteria, including the following (quoting Interbrand): “The brand must be truly global and needs to have successfully transcended geographic and cultural boundaries. It must have expanded across the established economic centers of the world and be establishing a presence in the major markets of the future. In measurable terms, this requires that:

  • At least 30% of revenues must come from outside the brand’s home country
  • It must have a presence in at least three major continents, as well as broad geographic coverage in emerging markets
  • There must be sufficient publicly available data on the brand’s financial performance
  • Economic profit must be expected to be positive over the longer term, delivering a return above the brand’s operating and financing costs
  • The brand must have a public profile and awareness above and beyond its own marketplace”

In continuing to pursue my “paperless goal,” I came across the 2003 listing (torn out of a magazine and kept all these years), which made me ponder not only the evolution of society over the last decade (nothing says something about a people as do the brands they love: we still drink soda and eat fast-food, we smoke less, and are completely addicted to our smartphones and accessing information anytime and everywhere), but also which of these brands I love, relate to, and turn to every day.

For a complete listing of the 2013 Interbrand scoreboard, click here. For a more edited list, here is a comparison from 2003 to 2013, of the top 10:

Ranking 2003 2013
1 Coca-Cola Apple
2 Microsoft Google
3 IBM Coca-Cola
5 Intel Micosoft
6 Nokia GE
7 Disney McDonalds
8 McDonalds Samsung
9 Marlboro Intel
10 Mercedes Toyota

Which brands do you love and can’t live without today? Here are my top 10 (not counting my own, Alchimie Forever, of course).

1. US Airways. I learned early on, pick one airline and stick to it. I have stuck by USAir, so much so that they are nice to me. I love their liberal upgrade policy, and I love that we tweet to each other (just today they called me a #fashionista; how can I resist that?). Given that I fly over 100,000 miles per year, this is one of the brands that has the most significant impact on my quality of life (and yes, I am writing from the air right now, Gogo In Flight Internet on all planes is amazing). (Not listed; Interbrand does not include airlines in its listing)

2. Apple. My iPod/iTunes helps me run faster. My MacBookAir makes my purse lighter. My AppleTV will soon replace Comcast. I am yet to get acquainted with Siri (I still hold on to my Samsung), but I am guessing we will be best friends soon. I have had my share of Mac Crashes, and this brand would not have been on my list last year – but I am a definite convert.

3. Coca-Cola. I don’t have soda in the house because that would lead to unhealthy behavior. And nothing starts off my day worse than me getting to the office at 6 am and not finding a Diet Coke in the fridge (yes, my entire team loves them too). I don’t have a Diet Coke every day, but when I need a Diet Coke, nothing will fulfill that need other than a Diet Coke.

4. Google. I can’t even remember life pre-Google. Google tells me what I need to know. Anywhere, anytime, without asking for anything in return. Thank you Google.

5. Evernote. This brand has replaced Moleskine, which would have been on my list last year. I still miss the beautiful colors of those notebooks, the soft sheen of the paper pages. But Evernote has changed my life. It organizes all of the information I collect from Google and other sources into Notebooks that are accessible from everywhere, from every device. Notebooks that I can share with my team and my loved ones. Notebooks that I will never forget on a plane or on a train. (Not listed)

6. American Express. I run a small business. I rely on credit. I travel all the time. I like to earn points. I like to be able to pay by phone from anywhere (not necessarily with a check in front of me) without having to speak to anyone, and without having to pay a fee. Enough said. (#23 on the 2013 listing)

7. Amazon. I don’t shop online. But I do shop on Amazon. I read (still old-fashioned books made out of paper). I haven’t purchased a book in a bricks and mortar bookstore in years (sorry, bricks and mortar book stores, I still love the way you smell…). I am late to the party, but my guess is I will  be ordering things other than books from Amazon really soon. (#19 on the 2013 listing)

8. NARS. As my mother has always told me, when all else fails, wear bright red lipstick and your day will improve. My favorite brights, the ones that make me feel most powerful, are from NARS. Cruella. Dragon Girl. Red Lizard. The perfect red for each occasion, for every day.  (Not listed)

9. Veuve Clicquot. Yes, I love champagne. Yes, I do think champagne makes everything better, victories of course, but also roadblocks and failures. And yes, all in moderation, including champagne and moderation. I love the fact that while this brand was not founded by a woman, a woman ran this company (starting at the young age of 27). And yes, I have to admit, I dream of the Veuve Cliquot Business Woman Award. (Not listed; Moet & Chandon is #99 on the 2013 listing)

10. Hermes. This is my aspirational brand. One of my best friends has a tower of Hermes boxes in her bedroom, and I have to admit that when I saw that I had to take a picture. And I couldn’t help but wish for my own tower. Above all else, this brand represents hand-made, traditional, French, exclusive craftsmanship. Is this superficial of me? Perhaps. Is it impressive that Hermes still conveys this truth in consumers’ minds, after all these years and in this day and age of disposable fashion and flash sales? Absolutely.  (#54 on the 2013 listing)

Muses and beads: Happy Mardi Gras

When my now husband and I started seriously dating, the topic of Mardi Gras came up very early on in our relationship. I had always heard about this New Orleans celebration, I thought I knew what it was all about (beads, right?), but over the last few Mardi Gras, I have truly learned to appreciate the meaning of this special day, really, this special week-end.

Of course, the clichés about Bourbon street, beads, and what ladies (and gentlemen) are ready to do to get the really good ones are only partially exaggerated. But truly, Mardi Gras is about friends, about fancy beaded dresses, about celebrating life and its many pleasures, before the arrival of Ash Wednesday.

In learning about Mardi Gras, I have learned a few new English words, such as “krewe.” Prounounced as “crew,” krewes are the organizations that put on parades and/or a ball during the Carnival season. Being a member of a krewe has quite the social cachet, and is quite expensive. One of my best friends, Angie, is in Muses.

While most krewes are men-only, there are three that are exclusive to women. My favorite, of course, is Muses. First off, its symbol is a shoe, and it really has the best floats. And while strange things happen on Bourbon Street to catch beads, the excitement of seeing the parades on St. Charles Avenue has nothing to do with showing skin, and everything to do with catching the best possible bead.

My Mardi Gras started on Thursday evening, when Muses rode to kick-off to the really fun parades. The festivities continued on Friday, the day of my friend Angie’s annual Mardi Gras Luncheon. Hosted in a private room at Arnaud’s, Angie brings together 11 of her best friends for a 5 hour lunch filled with champagne, famous dishes such as Shrimp Arnaud and Turtle Soup, and lots of laughs. Arnaud’s (and Antoine’s and Galatoire’s, the other two classic New Orleans restaurants) is taken over by Mardi Gras festivities and ladies in hand-made beaded dresses.

After lunch, around 4 pm, we stroll through the French Quarter, with stops at two of my favorite bars, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop and Cosimo’s. Overall, the perfect ending to a Friday afternoon filled with more pleasure than work. Luckily, Cosimos’s is literally across the street from my New Orleans home, and while by then my feet hurt, I make it home thrilled to have experienced another successful start to Mardi Gras week-end.

The rest of the week-end was slightly mellower, with visits to Frenchman street for some fabulous live music and dinners (not 5 hour dinners) with friends. By the time you read this, it will actually be Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, the last day of Carnival. At midnight precisely, the New Orleans streets will be cleaned, broken beads will be thrown away, and people will focus on Ash Wednesday – and what to give up. I have only started giving something up for Lent since I have started partaking in the Mardi Gras celebration; if I do one, I must do the other, right? This year, I am giving up artificial sweetener in all its forms (Splenda, Equal, whatever is in Diet Coke). Wish me luck…