In Defense of Dunkin’

Dunkin’ Donuts (DD) got the last word- both literally and figuratively- as news of its planned name change to simply “Dunkin’” reached various social media platforms in late September.

The coffee-breakfast chain’s slogan has been “America runs on Dunkin’” since 2006 and has been colloquially referred to as Dunkin’/Dunks/Dunkies for quite some time now;  nevertheless, the official rebranding decision sent the general public into a frenzy of both disbelief and discontent. After all, why change the name synonymous with its revered products- the name known by the world for almost 70 years?

Here’s why.

Free Advertising

Thanks to the social media uproar, Dunkin’ Donuts is receiving free advertising in massive waves of tweets, comments, and posts. This public engagement puts the brand in people’s mouths and in turn, puts more people into their stores.

A Wider Brand, a Wider Audience

The name change allows for a change in the marketing, positioning, and awareness of its products. By dropping “Donuts” out of its name, DD hopes to emphasize its beverage line, which makes up 60% of sales. In doing so, DD also manages to capitalize on a nickname used by its consumers while sending a message in a big way.  Trimming down the last word broadens the scope and possibilities for the chain, shifting them away from largely associating with just one of their products to better embody a brand that provides an array of options that can meet more consumers’ needs.

All in Good Company

Dunkin’ Donuts is not the first (and surely will not be the last) to redefine its name to better fit its new phase and changing world. The Wendy’s in UT Austin’s Jester Residence Hall recently changed its name to Jendy’s – a combination of Jester and Wendy’s – likewise capitalizing on a nickname used by its avid college consumers and stirring up publicity. FedEx, originally The Federal Express Corporation, shortened its name to reflect its identity as a fast package delivery company. Apple Computers trimmed off the latter half of its name as its growing line of products went beyond PCs. Needless to say, DD is not alone in this regard.

While many people are skeptical of DD’s rebranding, especially in the aftermath of iHOP’s marketing prank, it is important to remember that the instinctive response to change is fear; that being said, it equally important to remember that brands must and will adapt to the circumstances and society around them, and that embracing change is a necessity synonymous with all that is brand sustainability.

By Esther Wang

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