On an apparently slow news day, this made national network news, and it isn’t even official yet.
Here’s an existential question you probably never considered before: are donuts integral to Dunkin’ Donuts?
Maybe not. As reported by news outlets as mainstream as ABC News, Dunkin’ Donuts may be quietly floating a trial balloon for life without donuts — in its name, we mean. Thrillist explains that the company is opening a new store in Pasadena that will simply be called Dunkin‘.
No word on whether you’ll be able to dunk basketballs or other objects there, perhaps as part of the #drivebydunk challenge.
Jokes aside, Dunkin’ Donuts responded to media fascination with the potential rebranding by noting that it already calls itself just plain Dunkin’ in advertising. And yes, with Americans thinking (relatively) healthier these days, maybe it makes some sense to distance yourself from donuts by just a half-step or so.
(Though an argument could certainly be made that DD is already more famous for its coffee in some circles anyway.)
Maybe the company should be wary of rebranding history, though. Dropping a word from your name is perilous, and a quick way into the annals of top rebranding failures. Pizza Hut tried to become The Hut in 2009 and it didn’t take. Nor did Radio Shack’s attempt to be known simply as The Shack that same year.
The lesson should be pretty obvious, and that’s the fact that you’re taking a risk when you eliminate a word so closely associated with your core business from your name. Yeah, Dunkin’ Donuts has more than just donuts, and we get it. But going without acknowledging them altogether seems fraught with potential peril, no matter how long you think you’ve been conditioning people to get used to it.