Why Dunkin' Donuts Is Removing 'Donuts' From Its Name What does this rebrand mean for the doughnut franchise?

By Matthew McCreary

Boston Globe | Getty Images

This story originally published on August 29. It was updated on Sept. 25, 2018.

In 1948, William Rosenberg founded a restaurant in Quincy, Mass., called "Open Kettle," selling doughnuts for 5 cents each and cups of coffee for 10. Two years later, Rosenberg renamed the business "Dunkin' Donuts."

Since then, Dunkin' Donuts has grown to have 12,000 locations in 45 countries. The franchise chain serves almost 2 billion cups of coffee every year -- at a price a lot higher than 10 cents.

Many things have changed, but the name has been the same.

That is going to change. The company has been testing a name change to "Dunkin'" for about a year now, and there are already some restaurants which do not contain the word "Donuts" on their store signs. According to a press release, that change will go company-wide starting in January 2019.

"Dunkin' Donuts has been on a first-name basis with its fans," read the press release, "long before the introduction of its iconic tagline, 'America Runs on Dunkin',' with customers around the world naturally and affectionately referring to the brand as 'Dunkin'.' In recognition of this relationship, and as one of many steps to transform itself into the premier beverage-led, on-the-go brand, the company today unveiled its new branding at its Global Franchisee Convention that officially recognizes its name as simply 'Dunkin'.'"

In a previous release by Dunkin' Donuts, the company said it intended to continue testing this brand change. That testing will start in a familiar location -- Quincy, Mass., where the first Dunkin' Donuts opened.

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"The new 2,200-square-foot Quincy location, which is located about one mile away from the original Dunkin' Donuts location, is the first of 30 or more new and remodeled Dunkin' Donuts restaurants that will test variations of the new design this year," the press release said. "Dunkin' Donuts' final new store design is expected to be unveiled once testing is complete. The Quincy store is also one of a select number of Dunkin' Donuts restaurants testing new signage that refers to the brand simply as "Dunkin'."

That's not the only thing that's changing, either. Dunkin' Donuts says it wants to focus on improving and changing seven other aspects. They are:

  1. Restaurant design. The company plans to use lighter-colored materials, more open layouts and more natural light.
  2. A faster drive-thru experience. Customers who order ahead on Dunkin's Mobile App could skip the drive-thru lane and merge straight into the line for the pickup window.
  3. Beverages on tap. According to Dunkin', "crew members will use top-quality flavor-maximizing espresso machines to make hand-crafted drinks to order."
  4. Order online or at a kiosk. Guests will be able to order with or without a crew member, and those who use the mobile app will be able to pick up their orders in a dedicated area.
  5. New uniforms. These uniforms will also be introduced in the Quincy store, and Dunkin' Donuts says they will be designed by lifestyle brand Life is Good.
  6. Greater grab-and-go selection. For those who are in a rush, Dunkin' plans to expand its offerings to include bottled beverages, bananas, mini oranges, applesauce, granola and more so you can grab it and go.
  7. Increased energy efficiency. According to the release, the Quincy store is designed to save 25 percent more energy than a typical Dunkin' Donuts.

All of these things sound good and important. Who wouldn't want to increase energy efficiency, or have a faster drive-thru experience? But of course, all of those changes are going to be overshadowed in the short term by the company's name change, which is intended to highlight Dunkin's drink offerings.

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"The launch of our next generation concept store marks one of the most important moments in Dunkin' Donuts' growth as an on-the-go, beverage-led brand," said Dave Hoffmann, president of Dunkin' Donuts U.S. and Canada.

Will the gamble to transition from focusing on doughnuts to drinks pay off? Will the company change its name back within a matter of months, the way IHOP did when it briefly called itself IHOb, or will this name last another 68 years?

More importantly, how do you feel about the rebrand right now?

Matthew McCreary

Entrepreneur Staff

Associate Editor, Contributed Content

Matthew McCreary is the associate editor for contributed content at Entrepreneur.com.

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