Dunkin’ Donuts is just the latest fast food chain to get in on this trend
Your favorite donut shop is getting shorter and sweeter.
The bakery chain has already begun going by “Dunkin” at a Pasadena, Calif. location, and plans to test drive the new name at other west-coast locations soon.
The name change is part of a rebranding effort that Dunkin’ Donuts has been undergoing for over a decade. “As part of our efforts to reinforce that Dunkin’ Donuts is a beverage-led brand and coffee leader, we will be testing signage in a few locations that refer to the brand simply as Dunkin’” said a company statement.
As U.S. consumers move away from sugary snacks and towards healthier alternatives, and millennials turn out in droves to purchase coffee, the company has made a significant transition to a coffee- and beverage-led brand. The removal of “Donuts” from the restaurant’s moniker will seal the deal.
If the name change is well received in pilot locations, customers across the U.S. will be visiting Dunkin’ for their coffee as early as 2018. Dunkin’ afficionados can expect other changes as well. Dunkin’s CEO told Restaurant News that Dunkin’ will be simplifying its menu, eliminating some varieties of bagel, muffin, and sandwich to redirect emphasis to the beverage. A new store layout, tailored to “on-the-go” customers, is also incoming.
When it comes to food giants like Dunkin’, “They want to appeal as broadly as possible,” says Rodger Roeser, CEO of branding and marketing firm The Eisen Agency.
“They’re trying to share with everybody that they’re now in a much larger business space. They don’t just sell doughnuts anymore.”
This is certainly reflected in their market share. Even though snack purchases are down across the board, Dunkin’ Brands reported a 12.3 percent increase in profit at the end of this year’s second quarter. And coffee makes up 63% of the company’s annual revenue.
And given the recent explosion of fitness, weight loss, and healthy foods, Roeser thinks Dunkin’s move is a smart one. “As the menu has evolved, the term ‘donut,’ whether you like it or not, has gotten a negative connotation–they’re loaded with fat, they’re high in calories, they’re not good for you. They’re trying to get away from that sort of thing.”
And Dunkin is just the latest restaurant chain determined to expand its market, and hack words off its title in the process. In 1991, Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC, sliding away from a market that was becoming ever-the-more hostile towards fried foods. And in 2012, Domino’s Pizza became Dominos, to emphasize their non-pizza offerings: a wide array of pastas, sandwiches, chicken wings, and bread products. Since beginning to add these offerings to its menu in response to declining demand for pizza between 2006 and 2008, Dominos has seen its revenue grow by over a billion dollars.
As a bonus, a shorter name saves corporations time and money on marketing. “It’s a heck of a lot easier to brand three letters when you’re going to do brand extension on billboards or TV ads,” Roeser said, in reference to KFC.
And as American brands go global, the shorter the name, the more accessible the brand to non-English speakers. For example, Roeser says, “You don’t need to see the word Nike to know what that symbol stands for. It transcends language.”
Roeser says the shortening trend is growing more common, and expects it to continue in the future. Burger King and Panera Bread, he predicts, are next up to the plate.
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