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A Brand’s Patriotism Can Make or Break its Performance

(Used with the permission of John Sapiente)

Patriotism is a hard word to use and appreciate today. To some, it is an important feeling of attachment to one’s country, and to others it has been said to be supremacist, of sorts. To be “patriotic” is to be a “good citizen.” However, when taken to extremes, patriotism, like many well-intentioned sensibilities, can be made to seem wrong. With the political divide in the United States today, depending on where one stands on the MAGA movement inspired by former U.S. President Donald J. Trump, patriotism is often interpreted as nationalism. In truth, this couldn’t be farther from a fair comparison. Nationalism is the belief that one’s country is superior to all others whereas patriotism is simply one’s love for their country.

“I often tell people you can be very far left and love your country and you can be very far right and love your country” said John Sapiente CEO at Volition America. Unfortunately, it is frequently misunderstood in the context of building a brand and marketing a business today. Mike Lindell of MyPillow knows this all too well. Younger generations raised in progressive environments, colleges and households, people such as Millennials and Gen Z’ers do not necessarily view being patriotic in the same light as older generations because they internalize more, and agonize over misgivings of previous generations, such as racist histories, colonial actions, and even police misconduct. Younger generations associate patriotism with specific political figures and parties, erroneously believing that one side must quash the ideals of the other to achieve an individualized vision of patriotism. This in part is caused by how the internet has globalized the world.

For many Americans and Europeans, their country’s willingness to defend universal ideas of societal good, justice, freedom and equality bolsters their sense of patriotism. Patriotism should yield truth. Monsters may dress up as patriots and use flag-waving sentiments to further their own agendas. When individuals shield extremist political views by claiming to be patriotic it strips the true meaning of what patriotism should be. When veering away from what patriotism truly means, individuals risk falling into a gray area rife with erroneous opinions and dangerous ideals. 

Used with the permission of John Sapiente

In today’s retail landscape, brand impression is influenced by politics. Being an American corporation and simply labeling products as “made in the USA,” or boasting a nationally oriented corporate social responsibility program are not meaningful enough to sway entire consumer movements anymore. As we live in a time of political division where consumer tribalism, and increasingly intense social movements, present brands with ever-changing industry landscapes, not only are the fundamentals of customer loyalty and brand engagement being challenged, but the necessity for companies to describe themselves as “patriotic” is becoming increasingly difficult.

The Volition America brand unites people under the common goal of a good cause; the idea was to bring together several large brand partners to build a conglomerate of people who wear the brand logo because of what it stands for and the message that patriotism it elicits. We wanted to connect people by inspiring them with positive choices, while giving back in a meaningful way to those who gave us the freedom to choose.

– John Sapiente

Some brands’ halfhearted attempt at demonstrating patriotism within their products by use of the U.S. flag and color scheme on meaningless merchandise. In reality, consumers are wise to this tactic. “I implore business owners, specifically in the retail space, to look towards expanding strategic brand partnerships and collaborations.” John’s brand ambassadors and collaborators all share the same ideals and goals of emitting patriotic sentiment. These partnerships build on and evoke specific emotions felt within a community at large. 

Volition America, Sapiente says, is not political. It’s a brand that he “hopes will unite people to choose America by empowering them with the power of Volition, the power of choice.” 

Some of the marketing tools that have been used to rouse a sense of patriotism include the use of the American flag on packaging. Other tactics include announcing that domestic raw materials will be used in manufacturing and adding labels like “Made in the USA,” and so on. A business cannot expect to develop that kind of brand loyalty if those are the only facets of patriotism. Consumers will only spend their hard-earned money on things that provide them with satisfaction, and the goal of all good businesses should be to have a positive effect on the lives of their consumers and, as lofty as it sounds, the world at large.

Used with the permission of John Sapiente

Perhaps the most strategic partnership Sapiente has is with Folds of Honor, a 4-star gold star-rated charity that donates 91 cents of every dollar in scholarships to fallen or severely injured US service members and their families.

When customers convert to living a certain way and pledging to a specific cause, brand loyalty escalates and goes beyond a hobby or an activity. Customers who want to do good things through their purchases might incorporate patriotic products, and proudly display their images to demonstrate it. Nike, Titleist, Gucci, all invoke certain imagery, feelings and messages to consumers and those who see the logos on display. When a company symbol transcends a larger palatable message for consumers, they react accordingly. Sapiente is hoping to do that with Volition.

Ultimately, our love for our country inspires us. The ideal she embodies drives us and reminds us that we have the opportunity and privilege to be better than we were the day before. 

About the Author
Carl Thiese is a CPA by academics, who has served as a business consultant at the United Nations and several European embassies. He has studied the growth of the Jewish communities around the world, and consults on management audits for fortune 500 companies. My expertise lies in helping bridge business opportunities with local communities to help governments help people become more self sufficient.
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