Dunkin Donuts Rebranding to Dunkin’

by | Sep 26, 2018 | Branding News

Dunkin Donuts Rebranding to Dunkin’

Dunkin’ Donuts just renamed, and rebranded after the success of the popular campaign “America Runs on Dunkin’.” It’s not every day a company that is over 70 years old simplifies its brand name, but what’s really confusing is its detachment from the word Donuts, which is one of its main products. And it was a word they helped create from scratch; unfortunately, it was used by many other companies after it became accepted as a word in the Merriam Webster Dictionary.


Flash forward to today and Dunkin is no longer just a regional coffee chain in New England, it’s an international brand presence across the entire world. So this means there is an even greater importance placed on getting their intellectual property correct as they challenge the major chains such as Starbucks, Tim Hortons, and many more ( https://listaka.com/12-largest-coffee-chains-world/ ).

The first reaction I have to Dunkin Donuts rebranding to Dunkin’ is that I think it is simpler, but it could be less clear as to what it is for someone who has not seen this brand in their market. And my second thought is that the domain name for Dunkin.com and even DunkinCoffee.com another variation of Dunkin’ is also taken by other organizations legitimately ( and I am not quite sure who owns dnkn.com ). Another challenge with the domain name is that an apostrophe is not a symbol that DNS systems allow for as it is a special character. While that in itself is frustrating and limiting, it ultimately means when searching for a domain, you need to make sure it can be trademarkable as the root name, in this case, it would be www.dunkin.com which is owned by someone else. And if they didn’t hold the primary domains for their new name what were they thinking? Rolling out a multi-million dollar brand change and campaign and yet leaving some of the critical IP not acquired seems like a mess. And they are not going away from their main product, Donuts. They’re keeping the donuts and their sweets, so this is not repositioning, it’s more of a simplification for memorability purposes.

And that may be their biggest challenge for the name Dunkin’ versus Dunkin’ Donuts, memorability. The prior name sounded when you say it proud, New England and American in comparison just saying, Dunkin’ sounds understated, it even seems like it is trying to be cool, and unless its Mark Wahlberg or one of the Affleck’s saying it I am going with my gut on believing just saying “Dunkin’” sounds less memorable and may be trying too hard. IF the domains weren’t available, the product lines were not changing drastically, it does leave me wondering if this name change will create more challenges.


So what are some of the positives?

1. Readability

When you don’t have to stack two words together ( Dunkin’ Donuts ) for a brand name readability from a distance is increased. That means everything from signage to cups of their product will be more recognizable from a distance.

2. Extendability

Another positive is that a brand extension of “Dunkin'” is going to be easier as you can add to it with less confusion such as Dunkin’ Coolatta versus Dunkin’ Donuts Coolatta.

3. Using the Name as a Metaphor

Another positive is that they’re using their name as a metaphor for performance such as “Running at the Speed of Dunkin'”. Lines like that are catchy, and if audiences don’t know of the brand, this simpler message will extend far outside of New England.

4. Simple Can Be Memorable

Simpler can be better, and according to their own CEO*, they wanted to modernize to meet their audiences. I guess time will tell if a move towards simpler will result in the chain becoming a larger international coffee chain.


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View the Before and After of Dunkin Donuts Rebranding to Dunkin’.

Dunkin Donuts Rebranding, Dunkin' Donuts Rebranding, Dunkin' rebranding, Dunkin' Coffee rebranding

Read the full Brand & Renaming story over at Dunkin’s own website.



Agency’s InvolvedJones Knowles Ritchie (JKR), BBDO New York and Arc Worldwide.

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