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As this is an election year, issues regarding “patriotism” have been raised to even higher levels of debate than usual. So – as it’s coming up on July 4th – it seemed an apt time to look at how consumers see brands when it comes to the value of “patriotism.” And a new Brand Keys survey of iconic American brands (in a variety of categories) has revealed which brands consumers consider the most patriotic.

Election years and holidays like Independence Day give marketers an opportunity to help citizens celebrate – and brands leverage – particular emotional values. In this instance, brand advertising and social outreach typically features patriotic flag-waving and red-white-and-blue motifs. Marketers cue the bands, the Sousa marches, and the Uncle Sam look-alikes all to leverage patriotic emotions – and, as this value doesn’t just reside in the voting booth, but the marketplace as well – this is all done in the cause of increased sales.

Who Were At the Top of the Most Patriotic Brands List?

A national sample of 4,750 consumers, 16 to 65, evaluating 248 brands across a collection of 35 cross-category values Consumers identified the following brands as leading 2016’s patriotism parade. Percentages indicate brands’ emotional engagement strength for the individual value of patriotism.

  1. Jeep/Disney (98%)
  2. Levi Strauss (96%)
Ralph Lauren (95%)
  4. Ford (94%)
  5. Coca-Cola/Jack Daniels (93%)

For a complete list of 2016’s top 50 Most Patriotic Brands, click here.

When it comes to engaging consumers, waving an American flag and having an authentic foundation for being able to wave the flag are two entirely different things, and the consumer knows it. 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 are to trust that emotion and act positively on that belief. Where a brand can establish a real emotional connection, consumers are six times more likely to believe and behave positively toward the brand.

Armed Services Rate 100%

The Brand Keys annual survey focuses on for-profit brands, but every year we also look at the United States armed services – The Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy. Consumers gave all branches of the armed services a patriotism engagement rating of 100%. We recognize that again this year and thank them all for their service.

Brands Growing In Patriotic Appeal

The five brands appearing among 2015’s Top-50 Most Patriotic Brands that showed significant patriotic engagement growth included: Kellogg’s (+13), Converse (+11), McDonald’s (+10), Sam Adams (+9), and KFC (+5).

It is important to note that these rankings do not mean that other brands are not patriotic, or that they don’t possess patriotic resonance. Just not the kind of resonance the brands consumers placed in the top 50 exhibit. Rational aspects, like being an American company, or being ‘Made in the USA,’ or having nationally directed CSR activities and sponsorships, all play a part in the make-up of any brand. But if you want to differentiate via brand values, especially one as emotional as “patriotism,” if there is believability, credibility, and plausibility, good marketing just gets better. One thing marketers should have learned about 21st century brands is the ones that can make a meaningful emotional connection with the consumer always have a strategic advantage over competitors when it comes to the battle for the hearts, minds, and loyalty of consumers.


It’s been said that patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion. When brands do that we call it “promotion,” not patriotism.

Based on this year’s collection of brands, one could reasonably agree that real patriotism is the quiet and steady dedication of a lifetime’s work. Look at the brands on the top of the list. That’s probably true about every one of the other 38 brands, no matter where you personally stand on the political spectrum. Perhaps Mark Twain’s definition works best for everyone; “Patriotism is support for your country all the time – and the government when it deserves it!”

But the real bottom line is, if you can make a real emotional connection, consumers will not only stand up and salute, they’ll also buy!

Happy 4th of July!


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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