Stars, Stripes & Branding: What Makes a Brand All-American
To celebrate the USA’s 239th birthday, many of us will do our civic duty and enjoy a hot dog with (American-made) beer while watching fireworks on a picnic blanket. These tried and true all-American traditions represent the culture of our country – as do the brands that were founded here in America. According to the Fortune 500, the top 10 American companies include: Walmart, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Berkshire Hathaway, Apple, General Motors, Phillips 66, General Electric, Ford Motor and CVS Health. Spanning a variety of categories, BAV is curious: what is it that makes these brand all-American?
The BAV® database reveals these brands rank highest for the following brand attributes: leader, high performance, progressive, traditional, arrogant, reliable, independent, visionary, trustworthy and best brand. Not surprisingly, as companies with the highest revenues in America, these brands are known for being Leaders and High Performance. Qualities of Independence and Visionary also fit with the Founding Fathers’ idea for a nation that grants liberty and freedom to all. As established businesses in America, they are also Reliable, Traditional and Trustworthy, but continue to move forward as Progressive brands. Arrogance is another trait that is associated with Americans, with almost half claiming “our culture is superior” in Pew’s Global Attitudes Project.
On the other end of the spectrum, the top 10 American brands rank lowest for: Healthy, Unique, Carefree, Fun, Sensuous, Charming, Different, Social, Trendy and Glamorous. With the USA’s reputation for being unhealthy – scoring lowest among 17 developed nations for health according to World Health Organization data – it is unsurprising that the top companies in America are not known for this attribute. As large corporations, it is also logical that they are less-known for being Unique and Different. Fun, Carefree and Trendy and Social also tend to reflect qualities of younger, more nimble brands.
Comparing these brands against each other reveals that most are well known and respected, ranking above average for Brand Stature. Apple leads the pack due to its innovative technology and consumer-centric offerings. Meanwhile, classic auto-makers and consumer good retailers begin to see less differentiation and relevance.
Well-known fuel brands, like Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Phillips 66, score below average on Brand Strength, but remain strong on Brand Stature. This shows that though they lack differentiation in a commoditized in a category, they remain highly regarded among Americans. Finally, as a holding company, Berkshire Hathaway is not well known and scores below average on both Brand Strength and Brand Stature; however, some of its brands, like Fruit of the Loom and Heinz, score above average on Stature and Strength (Fruit of the Loom Stature = 95%, Strength = 87%; Heinz Stature = 98%, Strength = 93%).
Overall, top American brands are known for leadership and high performance, while they are not seen as particularly healthy or unique. These brands span various industries and phases of life, representing the marketplace of a country that is is as diverse as they are.