It does not have anything to do with how many American-made parts are in or on the vehicle. Nor does it have something to do with where the vehicle is made. However, when it comes to how the American public feels about Jeep, well, let’s just say for 16-straight years, they continually rank it as the top patriotic brand around.
New York-based research firm Brand Keys recently released its 2018 Most Patriotic Brands in America survey and, once again, Jeep found itself right at the top of the heap. And not just the automotive heap either, but of every one around.
“(At this point) not only would Jeep have to open a factory in China, but they’d have to take the first car off the line there and use it to back up over the Declaration of Independence,” said Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president. “When one talks of brands being ‘iconic’ — a term that has come to mean more regarding longevity than actual values — Jeep is the one to pick.”
Overall, Brand Keys sampled opinions from 5,001 consumers from nine U.S. regions to reach its conclusions. Those surveyed were asked to evaluate 297 brands and determine which ones resonated the most when it came to patriotism.
For Jeep, its continued appearance at the top of this survey is a direct result of the brand’s history becoming seriously intertwined with American history. The earliest Jeep models were born as a direct result of a severe need during World War II, and many soldiers fell in love with the highly capable vehicle, passing along this love to others as Jeep ventured, more and more, into the civilian market over the years.
Although Jeep is no longer a standard issue military vehicle, its vast penetration into the civilian market has also led to nearly everyone equating the brand’s rugged four-wheel drive capability, and open air cabin availability, with pure freedom and patriotism.
Not all brands surveyed were so lucky.
Although Disney, Ford and Coca-Cola also remained in the top-five this year along with Jeep, others like Airbnb, General Electric, Facebook and the National Football League all ranked in the top 50 in 2017, but dropped off of this year's list.
“Keep in mind these brand rankings do not mean that other brands are not patriotic or do not possess patriotic resonance or intent," Passikoff said. "Values like being an American company, being made in America, or having nationally directed customer service all play a part in the perception of any brand."
But those pullbacks do show there is a thin line between patriotism and nationalism, according to Passikoff.
The NFL has been a perennial top-50 in the most patriotic brands list, albeit grouped with sports teams, MLB, and athletic brands, but still showing up. The disappearance of the brand from the top 50 is surprising and clearly the result of the national anthem dispute regarding kneeling.
For Facebook, it took the social media giant 15 years to make the list and only one year of privacy issues to knock it off, Passikoff says.
“I believe that the political environment is really making itself felt for brands — and for consumer choice of brands,” he says. “Whether you're politically left, right or center, what's clear is that these consumer attitudinal shifts come with a set of newly rewritten rules of branding, expressed every day via news programs and social networks like the President's favorite, Twitter, and Millennials' Instagram.”
Rounding out the survey’s top-10 are Ford, American Express, Hershey/Twitter, Jack Daniels, AT&T, Walmart and Levi Strauss.