Where Did the Donuts Go?
by Matt Luongo
Extra-large with milk and sugar.
For roughly two decades, this has been my coffee order from Dunkin’ Donuts, or simply “Dunkin’”, as we locals call it. Starting January 1st, the rest of the world will call the brand by the same name.
Announced September 25th at their Global Franchisee Convention, Dunkin’ Donuts revealed the brand will shorten its name, removing the “Donuts” for the first time since launching in 1950.
Appearing first on packaging and all advertising channels, the company has stated this will be a full-scale rollout, eventually including store signage.
The word rebrand gets tossed around a lot in our industry, and while the name will eventually be changed across all assets, locations, and platforms – the move is more refresh, than full rebrand. The orange and pink color scheme and font, first introduced 45 years ago, will remain the same, as will their colorful marketing style.
So why go through the effort of a brand refresh? Well, the last refresh was 16 years ago, back in 2002. At the time, the refresh included adding a cup of coffee to the Dunkin’ Donuts name, with a focus on further pairing coffee and donuts. While some may view the current refresh as a simple PR Stunt (such as IHOP’s iHOb campaign), Dunkin’ has stated this move is designed to match the brand’s current beverage driven orientation.
Proof of this focus is their “Next Generation” location design, which first premiered in Quincy, MA this past January. Featuring an 8-tap system for cold beverages (think draft beers at a bar), as well as a modern design and improved mobile ordering and pickup efficiency, Dunkin’ is attempting to combine the convenience that made them popular with an improved consumer experience.
“Will I still be able to dunk my donuts?!” Don’t panic. Your favorite donut isn’t going anywhere, except closer to your soon-to-be-frosting-coated hands.
While the visuals of your favorite location may move forward to a modern design, food such as donuts, muffins, and Munchkins will be displayed in a retro style glass case. The design harkens back to times of breakfast past, helping consumers select a meal of their choosing, without having to look around fellow patrons in line, or hustling employees behind the counter.
Shortening a brand name is common, as consumers often refer to companies in shorthand. While those of us in New England have almost 70 years of familiarity with Dunkin’ (the company began, and is still based in Massachusetts), it will be interesting to see if this name change affects the brand in lesser-known locations. It is also quite possible the average long-time consumer won’t immediately notice the name change, as the company frequently changes packaging, abbreviating to “DD” or including the logo of a partnering sports team, for example.
One thing is evident, the brand formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts is brewing up a plan that includes a smaller name leading to larger growth. Extra-large growth, perhaps.