Oct. 24, 2012 at 8:24 AM ET
Americans don’t see eye-to-eye on politics, so why should it be any different when it comes to the brands we admire?
Democrats and Republicans, as it turns out, see the world very differently in terms of brand perception, and the outlook is different still for independents.
Democrats seem to love Google, for example, while the Internet search company fails to even break the top 10 list of Republicans' favorite brands, according to an annual ranking released Wednesday by YouGov Brand Index, a consumer research firm.
Republicans and independents both have a high opinion of the History Channel and Discovery Channel -- brands that are just not top of mind for Democrats.
“Politics in the U.S. have become very personality-focused and we view brands as having a personality,” said June Cotte, associate professor of marketing at Western University in Canada said.
“If a brand is seen as young and hip it may be more associated with (President Barack) Obama, who is seen as young and hip compared to (former Gov. Mitt) Romney,” Cotte said.
News events also can have an impact.
Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, for example, stirred up both criticism and support with his controversial comments against same-sex marriage. But those comments drove Chick-fil-A onto the top 10 list of well-perceived brands among Republicans for the first time. (The fast-food chain did not make the list among Democrats or independents.)
Some brands also got a bounce after the two political conventions this year.
The Democrats used the slogan “Osama Bin Laden is dead, General Motors is alive” during their convention, leading to a big bounce in perception for GM among Dems. Staples founder Thomas Stemberg stumped for Mitt Romney at the Republican’s convention, which helped garner the office supply chain a boost in ratings among Republicans.
As for M&M’s, perhaps they started packing more blue candies than red into their iconic mix of candy-coated chocolates. The popular candies made their debut on the top 10 list for both Democrats and independents this year, while melting off the Republicans’ top 10.
One brand that everyone seems to agree on is Cheerio's, which ranks in the top 10 for every political affiliation.
Ted Marzilli, managing director for YouGov’s BrandIndex, said several brands, including Fox News, PBS and Chick-fil-A, have a particularly polarizing effect.
While Fox News ranks as the No. 1 brand among Republicans, it ranks behind 1,084 other brands among Democrats.
Similarly Chick-fil-A ranked No. 4 among Republicans and No. 1,076 among Democrats.
And Romney seems to have chosen wisely in targeting PBS, which is ranked as the No. 9 brand among Democrats. Big Bird and friends rank as the No. 159 brand among Republicans.
Here is the top 10 list for all three categories of voters:
Dana Macario is a Seattle-area writer, who likes Cheerios, especially the Honey Nut ones.