Is your most precious element the highly stressed, lowly paid person who delivers packages to your door? Or could it be the iPhone that allowed you to order that package?
I only ask because my nasal tract has been buried in the 2020 BrandZ report that ranks the world's most valuable brands.
BrandZ claims to be the world's largest brand equity database, with millions of interviews and little data points that make up one vast, important whole. And what a whole.
The report's authors, WPP's Kantar, claim it measures the brands "making the largest absolute $ contribution to the total value of their respective parent companies, considering both current and projected performance."
The future may look grim for some.
Apple has again somehow fallen short of Amazon to claim the ultimate crown. Which must so depress Cupertino, as it's the fifth year in a row it's been, as draconian parents put it, first loser.
It's not a good place to be.
On the other hand, there might be a little rejoicing in Redmond. Microsoft has slipped past Google to occupy third place. The report's authors put this down to "the growth of its cloud-enabled workplace ecosystem that incorporates Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, allowing people to maintain 'business as usual' during the lockdown."
Wandering down the list may make you wonder about the state of our world. Visa is the fifth most valuable brand, even if it might seem quaintly soon-to-be-obsolete. Facebook clings to the eighth spot, even if you might think it should be broken into shards and its leadership placed in the stocks for citizens to toss tomatoes at. And AT&T is at number 11, even if you wonder how anyone could experience actual affection toward this vast, feelings-free brand.
The higher echelons of this survey, however, show how much technology has overtaken our world.
Alibaba and Tencent are in the top 10. Verizon and IBM are in the top 20.
SAP is at number 17, while Disney is merely four places less valuable than Chinese liquor brand Moutai.
Oddly, Samsung slouches in an unseemly 40th place. Below the likes of Instagram, T-Mobile, YouTube, Spectrum, Adobe, and China Mobile. And, um, Xfinity. Still, it's ahead of LinkedIn and Oracle.
Naturally, you may be wondering why any of this matters. These rankings often serve only to underline the joy and fascination of perusing rankings.
I'm conscious, though, that Apple's essence is not without ego. I searched, therefore, for a reason to make Tim Cook and his cohorts feel better about their constant quest to be the very best.
Well, this survey actually ranks Apple as the world's most valuable technology brand. It classifies Amazon as a retail brand.