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A new Brand Keys survey of iconic American brands has revealed which brands consumers consider the most “patriotic.” Jeep, Coca-Cola, Disney, and Ralph Lauren led the pack this year.

Independence Day gives marketers an opportunity to help citizens celebrate. And, typically, brand advertising and social outreach features patriotic flag-waving and red-white-and-blue motifs. Marketers cue marching bands and majorettes, Uncle Sam and Statue of Liberty look-alikes to try and leverage patriotic emotions. And, hopefully, increased sales during the weeks surrounding July 4th.

When it comes to engaging consumers, waving the American flag and having an authentic foundation for being able to wave the flag are two entirely different things, and the consumer knows it. More importantly, believability is key to the engagement paradigm. The more engaged a consumer with a particular emotional value and the associated brand, the more likely they’ll trust that emotion and act positively on that belief. Generally speaking, where a brand can establish a real emotional connection, consumers are six times more likely to believe and behave positively toward the brand.

To determine which brands will lead the parade when it came to patriotism, Brand Keys did a statistical ‘drill-down’ to identify which of 230 brands are more associated with the value of “patriotism.” We know that effectual brand engagement is more emotional than rational. And while many emotional and category-specific values ultimately drive brand engagement, 5,427 consumers ages 16 to 65, drawn from the nine U.S. Census Regions, evaluated a collection of 35 values including “patriotism.”

The following are Brand Keys 2015 top-50 most patriotic brands, with percentages indicating emotional engagement strength for the individual value of “patriotism.”

  1. Jeep (98%)
  2. Coca-Cola (97%)
  3. Disney (96%)
  4. Ralph Lauren (95%)
  5. Levi Strauss (94%)
  6. Ford/Jack Daniels (93%)
  7. Harley Davidson/Gillette (92%)
  8. Apple/Coors (91%)
  9. American Express/Wrigley’s (90%)
  10. Gatorade/Zippo (89%)
  11. Amazon (88%)
  12. Hershey’s/Walmart (87%)
  13. Colgate (86%)
  14. Coach/New Balance (85%)
  15. AT&T/Google (84%)
  16. Marlboro/Sam Adams (83%)
  17. John Deere/Louisville Slugger/Smith & Wesson (82%)
  18. L.L. Bean/Facebook (81%)
  19. Craftsman Tools/GE/Wells Fargo (80%)
  20. 49ers/Cowboys/NFL/Patriots/ (79%)
  21. MLB/NY Yankees/Wrangler (78%)
  22. Campbell’s/Gibson/KFC (77%)
  23. Goodyear/Wilson Sporting Goods (76%)
  24. J&J/Kellogg’s/Tide (75%)
  25. Converse/Heinz (74%)
  26. McDonald’s (72%)

This was a survey of for-profit brands, but as we do every year we included assessments for the United States armed services: the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy. Consumers gave all branches of the armed services an engagement strength of 100% when it came to “patriotism.” We take this opportunity to recognize that and to thank them for their service.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that many brands in the top-50 are American Icons, which is confirmed by the movement up the list into the top-50 of Coach, Converse, Goodyear, Johnson & Johnson, Major League Baseball, and Wells Fargo. It’s important for brands to accurately measure these values since values are the way consumers define what they actually expect from a brand. Meet or exceed expectations for those values and you have a differentiated brand, engaged customers, and increased sales. An increase, or decrease, of five percent is significant at the 95% confidence level and 11 brands in this year’s survey that showed significant engagement growth for the value of “patriotism” included:

Jack Daniels (+18%)

Coach (+15%)

Major League Baseball (+11%)

Coors, Wells Fargo (+10%)

American Express, Wrigley (+9%)

Goodyear, KFC (+6%)

Craftsman, Johnson & Johnson (+5%)

It is important to note that the assessments in this survey do not mean that other brands are not patriotic, or that they don’t possess patriotic resonance. There are, as we mentioned, rational aspects, like being an American company, or being “Made in the USA,” or having nationally directed CSR activities and sponsorships, that all play a part in the make-up of any brand. But if you want to differentiate via brand values, especially one this emotional, if there is believability, good marketing just gets better. In some cases six times better.

Last year we received comments about how some of the brands didn’t belong on the list because their products aren’t actually manufactured in the United States. That may reflect the reality of the global economy, but it also only reflects one part of the consumers’ brand evaluation and decision-making process. The rational side. If you actually have to remind people that a particular brand is manufactured in the United States, like some “foreign” automotive brands, for example, that’s a fine rational argument, but it doesn’t resonate emotionally. Neither is “patriotism”, as one reporter so incorrectly put it last year, brands benefitting “from being identified as distinctly American and therefore ‘patriotic,’” because that’s not what the study is about. There are lots of “American” brands out there. But when it comes to “patriotism,” it’s more about emotional values and connections than being able to identify it’s global origin. Much more.

And one important thing marketers should have learned about 21st century brands is that if you can make an authentic emotional connection with the consumer you’ll always have a strategic advantage over competitors. Particularly when it comes to the marketplace battle for the hearts, minds, and loyalty of consumers.

Make that connection and consumers will not only stand up and salute, but more importantly they’ll 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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