Patriotism has become something of a charged word in these turbulent political times. And that led to significant shifts in the results of Brand Keys’ 16th annual survey of American brands in over 100 categories.
Some iconic names, including Jeep, Walt Disney, and Coca-Cola, made the list of “patriotic” brands. Other companies — including ones that have faced controversies this year, like Facebook, General Electric, and the National Football League — fell off the list.
“Five-hundred twenty-four days into the new presidency, and the brandscape is populated by more contentious issues and division between consumers and brands,” said Brand Keys President Robert Passikoff in a press release. “We expect brands to employ patriotic themes tactically this time of year. But the political schism has shifted how consumers view ‘patriotism’ as both an ideologyanda self-perception.”
Image source: Getty Images.
A look at the respondents
Brand Keys creates its list by surveying 5,001 consumers between the ages of 16 and 65, from May 14 through June 12. The respondents are “balanced for gender and political party affiliation, drawn from the nine U.S. Census regions,” according to the company.
The people being surveyed were asked to rate themselves on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being “not at all patriotic,” and 5 being “extremely patriotic.” The numbers who checked “extremely patriotic” or “very patriotic” varied by age, with perceived patriotism increasing as people got older. The numbers, however, remained consistent across gender lines and political affiliations.
The percentage of people who consider themselves “extremely” or “very” patriotic by generation were:
Baby boomers: 85% Generation X: 68% Millennials: 53% Generation Z: 42%
These are the brands deemed most patriotic
Those surveyed were asked to rank the patriotism of 297 separate companies. The numbers in parentheses show movement up or down for the brand since 2017. A dash means no movement. Two-way ties are indicated by an asterisk; three-way ties, by a hashtag. And numbers 39 through 50 were all tied with one another.
Jeep () Disney (+1) Coca-Cola (+1) Ford (+1) American Express (+17) * Hershey’s() *Twitter () Jack Daniels (+1) AT&T (+11) Walmart (+12) Levi Strauss (- 8) * Ralph Lauren (-4) * Coach (+8) Amazon (+28) Apple (+27) * Fox News (+1) * MSNBC (-3) McDonald’s (+1) * KFC (+8) *Pepsi(new) Coors (+9) Sam Adams (- 9) Instagram (+9) * Kellogg (+7) * Gibson(new) Old Navy(new) * Craftsman Tools (-4) * John Deere (-5) # L.L. Bean (+2) # J. Crew (new) # GAP(new) * Tesla() *Google (+6) Starbucks (-14) Colgate (- 9) Gatorade (- 7) Harley-Davidson (-16) Marlboro(-5) San Francisco 49ers() Converse () Dallas Cowboys() Louisville Slugger() New Balance() Nike() New England Patriots() Major League Baseball() New York Yankees() Under Armour (new) Wrangler() Wilson Sporting Goods ()
According to Brand Keys: “Brands making the largest movement up the 2018 rankings for consumer patriotic attribution included Amazon (+28), Apple (+27), American Express (+17), and Walmart (+12), and AT&T (+11). Brands that dropped from the 2017 list included Airbnb (No. 13), General Electric (No. 14), the National Football League (No. 29), and Facebook (No. 30).”
Patriotism can pay off
As the NFL saw over the past year, patriotism can come with its own controversy. But that does not mean there can’t be benefits to a brand courting a patriotic image.
“Where a brandcanestablish emotional connections, consumers are likely to believe more and behave more positively,” Passikoff said. “A brand that can differentiate and engage via a strong emotional value like patriotism will find believability is the key to brand engagement.”
The impact can be significant. In fact, “the more engaged a consumer is with an emotional value, the more he or she associates that value with the brand, the more likely they’ll act positively toward that brand,” Passikoff said. “In most cases about six times better.”
Of course, patriotism is only one of many possible emotional values a company can associate itself with. Most brands use more than one, and some — maybe most — companies on this list aren’t doing anything to specifically appear patriotic. They are just perceived that way because of their overall brand identity and positioning.