Dunkin’ Donuts Will Be Testing Out a Shorter Name This Month

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Getty Dunkin' Donuts' stores in California will be re-branded "Dunkin'" as the company tries out a new name.

Dunkin’ Donuts is looking to shake things up, albeit very cautiously. The chain is set to see how a shorter name works later this month, branding their Pasadena, California store as “Dunkin'” as opposed to Dunkin’ Donuts. The Pasadena location will be one of a handful of locations to feature the shortened name.

In a statement to Nation’s Restaurant News, the company said this shake-up is an attempt to stay fresh, despite their consistent success.

“While we remain the number one retailer of donuts in the country, 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’.”

Dunkin’ Donuts CEO Nigel Travis laid the foundation for the re-branding experiment in July when he talked about wanting the company to bolster their reputation as “a beverage-led, on-the-go brand.” From that perspective, the move is pretty straight forward. Why bother with the “Donuts” part of the name if it’s no longer you’re focus? That’s fair.

But for every point, there should be a counterpoint.

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For the past decade or so, Dunkin’ Donuts has already somewhat dropped the “Donuts” part of their name as they’ve run an ad campaign with a slogan of “American Runs on Dunkin’.” So if anything, this move seems more like a formality than anything else. Yes it’s a little hard to fathom at first, especially if like me, you grew up going to Dunkin’ Donut and it’s weird to think of it as going by any other name. But honestly, when was the last you referred to Dunkin’ Donuts by it’s full name? No, really. Think about it.

A chain like Dunkin’ Donuts re-branding isn’t common, but it’s certainly not rare. Kentucky Fried Chicken famously re-branded themselves as KFC in 1991. When they did it, one of the reasons they cited was marketing. “KFC” was easier to say, easier to put on signs. Both of those reasons checked out. Although there were pesky rumors out there that the government forced them to change their name because of their use of so-called “mutant chickens.” This has since been de-bunked. Now Mutant Chickens is probably just the name of a high school punk band somewhere in the mid-west and KFC is the fast food chicken place located in the strip mall down the road.

So far there haven’t been any stories indicating that Dunkin’ is harboring any kind of nefarious intent when it comes to the re-branding, nor is there some sort of villainous reason for the change. Really it just seems like they’re doing something that we should all just assume makes total and complete sense. I’m not sure if you took the time to think about it, but really, when was the last time you called it anything besides Dunkin’?

The re-branding will remain fairly modest initially, although NRN notes that the company is planning a pretty significant overall in 2018. The name change could be included in that, provided things go well in California.