America’s Most Patriotic Brands

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We might have a little trouble defining what we mean when we say that a brand is “patriotic,” but the fact is most Americans know it when they see it. Patriotic brands go beyond a July Fourth promotional sale and have established an emotional connection with consumers that can have long-lasting — and profitable — effects on what people choose to buy.

That 2016 is a presidential election year raises the level of interest in and discussion about what patriotism means. Most, if not all, of us believe we are patriotic in our own way, and while how we react to emotional appeals to our patriotism may vary, marketers hope that we’ll buy something or, if we don’t, that we’ll remember their brand and its patriotic association when we actually pull out that debit card.

Brand consulting firm Brand Keys Inc. surveys U.S. consumers on a variety of brand values, one of which is patriotism. The firm leaves it up to the respondent to define the term. Brand Keys founder and president, Robert Passikoff, says:

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

As is always the case, the only group to get an emotional engagement score of 100% on the individual value of patriotism is the U.S. Armed Forces. Here are the top five brands and ties:

  1. Jeep, from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (NYSE: FCAU), and The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) both scored 98% on the patriotism scale
  2. Levi Strauss scored 96%
  3. Ralph Lauren from Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE: RL) scored 95%
  4. Ford from Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) scored 94%
  5. Coca-Cola from The Coca-Cola Co (NYSE: KO) and Jack Daniel’s scored 93%

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was the top-scoring tech company in a tie for seventh. Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) finished in a tie for eighth and Google from Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) finished in a tie for thirteenth with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T).

The five brands that appeared on last year’s list that showed the most growth in patriotic value on the 2016 list were Kellogg Co. (NYSE: K) up 13 notches; Nike Inc.’s (NYSE: NKE) Converse brand, up 11; McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) up 10 spots; Boston Beer Co. Inc.’s (NYSE: SAM) Sam Adams brand, up 9 notches; and Yum! Brands Inc.’s (NYSE: YUM) KFC brand, up 5 spots.