Would a Dunkin’ Donut by any other name smell as sweet? The company, which is officially dropping “Donut” from its name this January, thinks so. Though the change might seem unnecessary, it could make sense given that the way consumers seek out restaurants online is rapidly changing.
As consumers increasingly turn to digital to decide where to eat, search volume for unbranded terms (e.g. “restaurants near me”) is surging as branded search, such as “dunkin doughnuts” plateaus, according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Restaurants. Rolling out an abridged name could suit this trend better than the original and could also plant a fresh perspective in consumers’ heads that Dunkin’ offers more than just donuts—the brand recently added pretzel bites and donut fries (AKA Frankenfoods) to its menu. This could be particularly helpful since restaurant brands are constantly on the prowl for uncommitted customers who might ordinarily dismiss Dunkin’ Donuts when their sweet tooth isn’t quite raring to go.
Dunkin’ isn’t the only brand hoping to get consumers on a first name basis. Starbucks removed the words “Starbucks Coffee” from the logo on its cups in 2011, Weight Watchers just changed its name to “WW,” and Jo-Ann Fabrics is now just “Joann”. IHOP also (temporarily) turned the tables by switching its name to IHOB to promote its new burger push. These acts of rebranding might allow Dunkin’ Donuts and its peers to expand their limits and therefore, appeal to more than just the donut, pancake, or coffee crowd.