Dunkin’ More Than Donuts?

Dunkin’ Donuts have announced a name change from the beginning of next year. They’re keeping the Dunkin’, but clearly want consumers to dunk more than their donuts. In fact, drinks account for about 60% of their business according to The New York Times. Their move follows other businesses who have simplified their name in order to broaden their base of potential business. For example, Apple dropped Computers and Starbucks dropped Coffee. At the same time, IHOb made a disastrous change to IHOp and Weight Watchers recently became WW (allegedly because people don’t like diets as much as they used to).

The company are keeping their logo’s colour scheme and font and say that they can afford the change because they are “on a first-name basis” with their customers, claiming that the relationship is like one between friends (sounds like brand love all over again). I wish them luck, although history isn’t on their side. Such changes impact familiarity and the emotional connection that customers have with a brand, even ones who drink coffee without the “donuts”.

The company name goes back to 1950, with 9,000 outlets in the USA alone. The company claim that research shows that the new name has an “overwhelmingly positive” response. The CEO should read the history of such research with changes such as the introduction of New Coke.  Such research can tell you that customers “like” the new, changed offering, but isn’t always designed to measure the impact of the change, which is a much more difficult thing to predict, especially with close to 70 years of heritage.

In more marketing babble, the chief executive claimed the change was a “significant milestone on our journey”. The question I have is what is the meaning of “Dunkin’” when the Donuts have gone? Personally, I have never dunked donuts. Most tellingly, most customers just call them “Dunks” anyway.

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