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The 15th annual Brand Keys survey of American brands (in over 100 categories) has revealed a dramatic shift in consumers’ perceptions of brand “patriotism.” Jeep, Disney, and Levi Strauss continue to top an otherwise dramatically re-drawn list, with brands like Fox News, Tesla, MSNBC, and Twitter joining the 2017 list.

Our most recent Presidential election and its political aftermath has created higher levels of political debate and has raised more contentious issues. It has divided political parties, and it has divided consumers and their brands. And it has also dramatically shifted what drives the perception of patriotism.

In this year’s national sample of 4,860 consumers, 16 to 65 years of age, balanced for political party affiliation, were asked to evaluate, which of the 280 brands included in this year’s survey were most resonant when it came to “patriotism.” Some of the brands leading 2017’s patriotism parade are included below. Bolded names indicate the new brands that marched onto this year’s list.

  • Jeep
  • Levi Strauss
  • Disney
  • Coca-Cola
  • Ford
  • Hershey’s / Twitter
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Jack Daniels
  • Sam Adams

For the complete list, and a look at how 2017 has change from the first time the study was conducted 15 years ago, click here. A good deal of what used to be forthright marketing is now being galvanized and politicized, with some brands wrapping themselves more tightly in the flag than ever before.

Anti-Trump groups have urged consumers to boycott companies and brands seen to back the President, while Trump partisans have created their own lists of preferred and objectionable brands. And whether you’re politically left, right, or center, what’s clear is these consumer attitudinal shifts come with a set of newly re-written rules of branding, expressed every day via news shows like Fox and MSNBC and social networks like the president’s favorite, Twitter, and Millennials’ Instagram.

While the Brand Keys annual survey focuses on for-profit brands, assessments for the United States armed services – The Coast Guard, Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy – are always included in the study. Not unexpectedly, consumers gave all branches of the armed services a patriotic engagement ranking of #1. We recognize that again this year and thank them all for their service.

Believability and authenticity are the keys to emotional engagement. The more engaged a consumer is with a particular emotional value and the associated brand, the more likely they’ll trust that emotion and act positively on that belief. Where a brand can establish real emotional connections, consumers are six times more likely to believe and behave positively.

Politics has made itself more emotionally felt this year than ever before, particularly when it comes to how consumers look at brands through a patriotic lens. But one thing both parties can agree upon, however, is brands that can make meaningful emotional connections with the consumer always have a strategic advantage when it comes to the battle for the hearts, minds, and loyalty of consumers.

If you can make that connection, consumers will not only stand up and salute, more importantly they’ll stand up and buy.


Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

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