You never know what might hit a nerve with folks.
And no I’m not talking about all the drama with the nominee to the Supreme Court. (You may yet hear from me on that, but right now I just can’t).
In a move that has sent shockwaves throughout the country, Dunkin’ Donuts has announced it will change its name to, simply, “Dunkin.’” Branding and signage will begin to change in January 2019.
A representative from Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. was quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal story as saying the change is to emphasize its focus on beverages, which accounts for 60 percent of sales. The representative pointed out this “does not mean we are walking away from doughnuts.”
Although I’m a Krispy Kreme man myself, I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say that’s a relief. But there are Dunkin’ Donuts devotees who are not pleased. In that same Wall Street Journal piece, a customer was quoted, pointedly asking, “What are you Dunkin’ if there’s no Donut?”
But really, we should not be surprised. I’m no marketing expert by any stretch, but I know for a fact there are people who study habits and trends that lead to these decisions. I don’t necessarily get it, but these types of changes happen all the time.
Only a few months ago, IHOP, which was formerly the International House of Pancakes before it went to the acronym, announced it would be changing the P to a B, which stands for burgers. Apparently now it’s going to be IHOB.
Just as Dunkin’ doesn’t only want to be about doughnuts, neither does IHOP (or IHOB) want to box itself in. Yes, by all means, come for breakfast and have some pancakes if you want them, but know we’re about so much more. Come back for lunch or dinner.
Years ago, Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC. It is commonly thought that the purpose was to get the term “fried” out of its name. They’re still turning out the same product with the Colonel’s secret recipe of seven herbs and spices, but I guess they think we feel better about eating it if we don’t use that f-word that long ago fell out of favor.
It’s not just the for-profit world that makes these transitions. Churches and non-profits do it too.
Many churches with denominational affiliations have discreetly taken the name of the denomination off of their signs. Go a little deeper and you might find a generically named house of worship to be Baptist or Presbyterian.
And a few years back, the YMCA became the “Y.” Incensed Christians contended the organization was taking “Christian” out of the name, thus compromising its values, while the powers that be at the Y said they were just making an updated branding change to reflect what most people already called it.
A well-known religious organization, Campus Crusade for Christ, changed its name to “Cru.” I couldn’t tell you what went into that, but I wonder if people who didn’t like changing the YMCA to the Y had similar thoughts about this name adjustment.
So naming and branding changes happen, and we eventually get used to it. Or not.
Dunkin’ Donuts patrons will likely call it what they’ve called it for years, just as many folks still call the Colonel’s recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken without batting an eye.
That’s the perfect lead-in to the latest branding change, which is occurring at Weight Watchers. I’m a life member, currently not at my goal weight, but following their program (again) so as to get back to my goal (again), which means I can keep my lifetime membership and follow their maintenance program (again) without having to pay their fees.
I recently received an email from them, explaining that the program will now be called “WW – Wellness that Works.” They want to go beyond the scale and encourage all kinds of wellness habits other than maintaining a healthy weight.
Their meetings will now be called workshops and the meeting places will be called studios. A few weeks ago they stopped giving us stickers to commemorate weight loss, which I guess was the beginning of becoming more inclusive of healthy habits in general. I guess they decided the stickers were kind of silly for a serious-minded organization devoted to more than just weight loss.
That’s all fine, but the weight thing is still my primary interest. If they can help me get back to my goal weight, they can call themselves and their various components anything they want.
And when I get to my goal, should I celebrate at Dunkin’, KFC or IHOB?
Or am I missing the point?
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.