In business, growth is paramount.

To stay the same is to stagnate. And to stagnate is to become obsolete.

That’s why so many American corporations invest in rebranding. It’s about acquiring new business and reigniting a certain momentum. A great example is McDonald’s. Over the past few years, the fast food empire has worked overtime to ditch its plastic, ‘90s aesthetic to become cleaner, automated, and more modernized.

Of course, rebranding doesn’t always go so smoothly. Take Tropicana’s disastrous 2009 effort, a $35 million attempt to rehaul its image, logo, and slogan. Although its aim was to appeal to a more health-focused demographic, customers across the board reacted with disgust. The company was forced to spend an additional $15 million reverting its brand back to the original form in the wake of the fallout.

Ultimately, Tropicana alienated and confused their customers instead of inspiring them. In this sense, they represent the risks of rebranding––what companies should seek to avoid.

Which brings us to Dunkin’.

The coffee giant is betting that by ditching the ‘Donuts,’ they can utilize the power of the rebrand and reshape how consumers see them. They’re hoping for results that mirror those of McDonald’s, rather than Tropicana.

It’s bold, but the move is also necessary. The company has arguably reached the outer limits of what the “Dunkin’ Donuts” brand can offer. They have to rebrand in order to remain relevant.  

So far, they appear to be succeeding. Here’s why.

1. Americans are Becoming More Health-Consciousous

Health-conscious trends can be spotted everywhere. From the decline of processed foods and the surge of organic in-store options, to the swelling of the $3.7 trillion wellness industry, to legislative policies like those enacted in San Francisco— requiring companies to include health warning labels on all sugary soda products—Americans want to live healthier lives.

This desire is especially prevalent in major cities.

By ditching the harmful connotation to donuts, Dunkin’ can appeal to big-city clientele.

While Dunkin’ has a wide range of store locations, an increased focus on cities will allow them to compete with rivals like Starbucks. Dropping the “Donuts,” meanwhile, appeals to the sort of health-conscious consumer base who live in those cities, and also showcases a menu that extends far beyond pastries and munchkins. Because there’s no such thing as a healthy donut.

It’s a smart, necessary move for a business in 2018.

2. Brands Should Never Associate Themselves with Their Cheapest Product

Along with an increased focus on all-things healthy, certain American eating habits—including donut and dessert consumption— are trending gourmet.

Go to any major city in the country and you’ll see boutique cupcake shops, rainbow bagels and, yes, the $5 donut. Dunkin’s donuts, on the other hand, are low-priced fried food. They carry none of the foodie prestige that upscale companies can offer.

This may seem like a pretty intractable problem for Dunkin’. But examples of companies who’ve made similar pivots abound.

Consider Starbucks. Starbucks blossomed from a small, specialty coffeehouse into a global titan. How? Through continued, aggressive rebranding. From a logo switch—which included the redesign of the unsettling mermaid into something a little more palatable—to removing the word “coffee” from all of its packagings, Starbucks has made it clear that they’re focused on more than just beans.

When you close your eyes and imagine a Starbucks, do you see just the coffee? Or do you see the experience?

  • The carefully-selected music.
  • The satisfying and eclectic smell of their wide variety of blends.
  • The colorful display of bagels, muffins, donuts, and wraps?

It’s not Starbucks Coffee. It’s Starbucks: coffee, and so much more.

3. A Plain Name is Good for Business

As the old saying goes: keep it simple.

Why?

Paradoxically, it gives you more options. We’re seeing this exemplified across industries. By switching to a name that extends beyond a specific product, businesses can get away with selling a wider variety of goods.

Apple Computers became Apple, Inc. just as they expanded their product line. Now Dunkin’ Donuts is becoming Dunkin’ as they do things like launch their anytime, anywhere snacks––The Dunkin’ Run––and their new coffee on-the-go options. They’re even planning a collaborative beer with fellow New England staple Harpoon.

The last time Dunkin’ changed its name was 1950. That’s almost 70 years of expansion, globalization, and development under the iconic Dunkin’ Donuts banner. So much about what they do and what they offer has changed. So much as improved. 

Shouldn’t their brand––their image––reflect that?  

 

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