Fourth of July marks the annual high point of patriotic branding. It’s the time of year companies across America -- from LaCroix to PUMA -- roll out red-white-and-blue packaging, products and content to capture the nation’s
In the months leading up to summer, we typically sees a marked uptick in patriotic-themed creative projects. However, it’s worth noting that since President
Trump took office in 2016, the overall volume of overtly patriotic branding and design projects has declined around 26%.
Does this shift away from Americana-infused
marketing a signify a real trend or is it just coincidence? We’ll leave it for you to decide.
Either way, it’s important for brands to slow down and ask themselves a
few questions before jumping on this tried-and-true branding bandwagon.
Does patriotic messaging make sense for your audience? What really works, and what will just get lost in
the 4th of July noise? Here are some tips for marketers planning ahead for next year’s July 4 and for throughout the year:
- Don’t blindly jump on
the trend without considering your customer base. For example, studies show that millennial and GenZ consumers are significantly less patriotic than their parents; they are more culturally diverse, educated and
socially progressive than any other generation. Context is everything, so take a moment to consider if your proposed imagery or messaging might be interpreted as polarizing rather than
- Is your brand authentically American, or do you provide a product or service that’s generally considered to be uniquely
American? If not, you risk turning off more skeptical customers. For example, Blue Bell ice cream’s red, white and blue flavors, Coca-Cola and Tootsie Rolls’ flag-themed packaging
makes sense given the “All American” image of these products. But if you’re an international brand with a more universal product, (e.g., an Italian pasta brand, a Europe-based
fashion brand, etc.), it’s probably best to avoid something that could look disingenuous.
- Don’t let your creative be
clichéd: there’s more to America than flags and fireworks. For example, design experts have pointed out that the redesign of Air Force One by Trump intended to make it look
“more American” actually completely obliterates the historically significant American design roots of the current plane. America has a wealth of history and stories that can influence
creative work, so think outside the box to find inspiration for a unique celebration.
- Do incorporate a meaningful, long-term cause that
reflects American values. There have been some wonderful examples of brands taking a more sophisticated and meaningful approach to patriotic branding in recent years. For example, last year
Budweiser went a step beyond its previous “America” beer cans to the launch of a special edition Freedom Reserve Red Lager, inspired by a recipe found in George
Washington’s military journal. The brewer had veterans — whose signatures were featured on the bottles — make the beer, and a portion of the proceeds were then donated to Folds of
Honor, a nonprofit supporting military families. By tying a campaign to a cause that appeals to fundamental social values, the likelihood of creating the desired feel-good reaction increases, and does
some good along the way.