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If Not Donuts, What’s Being Dunked, Dunkin’?


Napkins, sugar packets, coffee cups, iced coffee cups, coffee sleeves, wrapping paper, to-go boxes and bags, employee uniforms, digital and print graphics, coffee bags, k-cups, merchandise and packaging. And signs, oh the signs. Think about everything the iconic coffee brand Dunkin’ Donuts touches. Well, beginning January 2019, the classic brew house is dropping ‘Donuts’ from all branding and will be going by its first name, Dunkin,’ just like that friend who calls their parents by their first names, “Tom and Sherry,” rather than “Mom and Dad” – you know, the ‘cool ones.’

Corporate rebrands are not only expensive, they’re also risky; financial planners and strategists can calculate the cost of remodeling and updating stores and merchandise down to the exact penny, but no case-study or individual can predict the long-term effect of rebranding a global chain, even when it’s as simple as going by a first name.

The rebrand is an effort to break away from a category-specific name and emerge as a “beverage-led” company focusing on teas, an expansive variety of coffee, speedy service and on-the-go food ordering and value offerings including – but not limited to – donuts, according to CNN.

“Our new branding is one of many things we are doing as part of our blueprint for growth to modernize the Dunkin’ experience for our customer,” said Dunkin’ Brands CEO David Hoffmann, in a press release.

This begs the question, does rebranding require a name change or could simply redefining what the brand stands for reinvigorate a business?

According to an AP article with Laura Ries, an Atlanta-based marketing consultant, “changing the name of iconic brands can be a big mistake… even if donuts have fallen out of favor among a more health-conscious customer base, people already know Dunkin’ Donuts as a place where they can just get coffee and enjoy the donuts’ smell.” Ries says, “There’s nothing wrong with still having ‘Donuts’ in your name,” she said. “Long term it was helping them, giving them a brand identity that was the opposite of Starbucks.”

Now our question is – what do we dunk in our coffee?