Since 2013, Brand Keys, a branding consulting firm, has conducted an annual evaluation of famous American brands to determine which ones are considered by consumers to be the most “patriotic.”
In order to discover those attitudes, Brand Keys surveyed nearly 5,500 consumers between the ages of 16 and 65, asking them to evaluate American brands on a collection of 35 cross-category values – one of which was “patriotism.” (The number of brands included in the evaluation has varied somewhat from year to year, ranging between 195 and 225.)
Of course “patriotism” is a hyper-qualitative measure that’s based as much on emotion and each individual person’s own point of reference as on anything else.
Brand familiarity and longstanding engagement in the marketplace helps, too.
So it’s not surprising that the American brands scoring highest on the patriotism meter are some of the best-known, iconic names.
For the record, listed below are the “Top 10” most patriotic American brands based on Brand Keys’ most recent survey – the ones that scored 91% or higher on the patriotism scale (out of a possible 100 percentage points):
- Jeep (98%)
- Coca-Cola (97%)
- Disney (96%)
- Ralph Lauren (95%)
- Levi Strauss (94%)
- Ford Motor (93%)
- Jack Daniels (93%)
- Harley Davidson (92%)
- Gillette (92%)
- Apple (91%)
- Coors (91%)
The next highest group of ten patriotic brands scored between 85% and 90% on the survey:
- American Express (90%)
- Wrigley’s (90%)
- Gatorade (89%)
- Zippo (89%)
- Amazon (88%)
- Hershey’s (87%)
- Walmart (87%)
- Colgate (86%)
- Coach (85%)
- New Balance (85%)
[As an aside … the only entity to score a perfect patriotism rating of 100% was the U.S. Armed Services.]
To be sure, “rational” aspects like being an American-based company whose products are actually made in the United States affect the patriotism rating of individual brands.
But other attributes — such as nationally directed customer-service activities and highly publicized involvement in sponsorships and causes that tie to the American experience — are attributes that add to a general image of being patriotic.
Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys’ president, expanded on the idea, stating,
“Today, when it comes to engaging consumers, waving an American flag and actually having an authentic foundation for being able to wave the flag are two entirely different things — and the consumer knows it.
“If you want to differentiate via brand values – especially one this emotional – if there is believability, good marketing just gets better.”
This is the third annual report issued by Brand Keys that’s been focused on brand patriotism – one of 35 brand values comparatively surveyed. Over the three years, there’s been some change in the patriotism rankings, with Colgate, Wrigley’s and Zippo falling out of the Top Ten and being replaced by Jack Daniels, Gillette, Apple and Coors in 2015.
What I find intriguing about the findings is that there isn’t a very strong correlation between the perceived patriotism of specific American brands and whether or not most of their products are made in the United States versus offshore. Of course, foreign production is more the norm than ever in the global economy. What’s important is how the consumer reacts to that reality.
With that point in mind … what about Jeep? Now that it is part of the global Fiat organization, should Jeep no longer be considered an American brand? Whether it is or not, the brand has the distinction of achieving the highest patriotism score outside of the U.S. Armed Services.
The bottom line is this: Brands, what they “mean” and what they stand for are based on the emotional as well as the rational – with the emotional aspect being the trump card with consumers.
Jeep, with all of its associations with winning wartime campaigns (particularly World War II), likely will always be a beloved “patriotic” U.S. brand, regardless of its recent Italian parent company ownership.
Are there brands not listed above that you would consider to be “highly patriotic”? If so, please share your thoughts with other readers here.