Being a patriotic brand in 2023 isn’t as simple and straightforward as back in the baseball and apple pie days—different groups have varying and conflicting interpretations of what represents patriotism amid the divisiveness. The 22nd annual Most Patriotic Brands list from loyalty and engagement research consultancy Brand Keys reflects this public reaction in the new consumer rankings, which includes the appearance of some startlingly different brand categories.
Despite those challenges, the firm has identified 2023’s top 50 American brands that best embody the value of “patriotism.” And the results reveal at least one highly adaptive brand, as Jeep ranked #1 for the 22nd year in a row, with Disney, Ford, Coca-Cola, and Levi Strauss leading a patriotism parade shaped by the shifting social and political landscapes, and a rollercoaster economy.
Hyper-political brand patriotism
This year’s survey was conducted when the Federal indictment of Donald Trump was released. This event has amplified U.S. political partisanship, with the public now viewing everything through hyper-political lenses,” said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, in a news release.
The 50 Most Patriotic Brands
To determine the 2023 national rankings, a sample of 6,150 consumers, 18 to 65 years of age, balanced for gender and political affiliation, assessed 1,260 brands in 140 B2C, B2B and D2C categories. Using Brand Keys independently-validated emotional engagement measures, evaluations identify how well the brand resonates with consumers for the single value of “patriotism.”
The following were identified as the top 50 brands that meet today’s patriotism challenges for consumers. Numbers in parentheses indicate movement in brand rank year over year.
- Jeep (–)
- Disney (–)
- Ford (+2)
- Coca-Cola (–)
- Levi Strauss (+2)
- Amazon, Coors, Walmart (-1, –, -3)
- American Express, Hershey’s (-2, +1)
- Apple (-2)
- Jack Daniels (+4)
- OpenAI (new)
- Ralph Lauren (+1), Domino’s (-1)
- Sam Adams (+5)
- Colgate (+3)
- Pepsi Cola (–)
- Harley-Davidson, Dunkin’ (+5, –)
- Wrangler (+1)
- L.L.Bean (+6)
- FOX News, MSNBC (+1, +7)
- Old Navy, USAA (+7, -1)
- WeatherTech (new)
- Gatorade, Weber Grills (+2, new)
- Jim Beam (new)
- Kellogg’s (-1)
- Nike, Wilson Sporting Goods (–, new)
- Dollar General, AT&T (+1, –)
- Smith & Wesson (new)
- McDonald’s (–)
- NFL (+6)
- MLB (+3)
- John Deere, NBA (-1, –)
- KFC, Goodyear (+3, new)
- Gillette (+2)
- Costco, Macy’s (–, new)
- New Balance (+4)
- Dick’s Sporting Goods (–)
- Shinola (new)
- Starbucks (–)
U.S. Armed Services—always #1
While the annual Brand Keys survey focuses on for-profit brands, assessments for the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy are always included. “Consumers rated the armed services #1, as they have since the survey was initiated,” said Passikoff. “We recognize that and again thank them for their service.”
The politics of media brands
“Our sample—balanced for political affiliation—ranked FOX News and MSNBC equally this year (#18) when it came to being patriotic. Assessments like that account for the appearance of twice the number of new brands as last year,” said Passikoff.
Firearms brand Smith & Wesson, lifestyle brand Shinola, heartland brand Weber, and artificial intelligence brand OpenAI all showed up in the Top 50 for the first time and represent a spectrum of political and social values. Consumers also added, or returned, Jim Beam, WeatherTech, Wilson Sporting Goods, Goodyear, Macy’s, and Craftsman to the Top 50.
Brands with the biggest growth in consumer-acknowledged brand patriotism included MSNBC and Old Navy (+7 each), L.L.Bean and the NFL (+6 each), Harley-Davidson and Sam Adams (+5 each), and Jack Daniels and New Balance (+4 each).
Nine brands were dropped from last year’s top 50 including: Pfizer, Netflix, The New York Times, Washington Post, CVS, Home Depot, Chick-fil-A, Google, and Clorox.
Consumers care—and patriotism pays
When it came to brands’ representation of patriotism, 71 percent of consumers felt it was “extremely” (36 percent) or “very” (35 percent) important. Twenty percent thought it was “somewhat” important. Only 9 percent said it was “not very” (6 percent) or “not at all” (3 percent) important. “As a brand value, ‘patriotism’ is more far-reaching than any single political outcome or event,” observed Passikoff. “Despite increases in political tribalism, patriotism is bigger than any leader, and outlives any leader—as do most great brands.”
“But more than that, there are tangible economic advantages to being patriotic,” he added. Brands that engage via emotional values, especially one as strong as “patriotism” always see increased consumer engagement, better consumer behavior toward the brand and, ultimately, better profits—in most cases, six times better.
“These brand rankings do not mean to suggest that other brands are not patriotic or don’t possess patriotic resonance or intent,” said Passikoff. “But the brandscape is now more challenging and partisan. Viewing brands through the lens of patriotism has gotten more complicated and more exacting. Today it takes a lot more than wrapping yourself in the flag.
“Brands consumers feel are patriotic always have a strategic advantage to win consumers’ hearts, minds, and loyalty. And when you can do that,” he concluded, “Consumers don’t just stand up and salute, they stand up and buy!”