Dunkin’ Drops the Donuts in their Name and Other Rebrands

October 10, 2018 Victoria Pallien

Dunkin’ Donuts has officially announced that, as of January 2019, the brand will simply be known as Dunkin’, distancing itself from the Donuts, even though the confectionery treats won’t be going anywhere.

The Dunkin’ name change doesn’t come as a surprise to many. While known for their sugary pastries, the brand knows America runs on Dunkin’, not Dunkin’ Donuts. According to CNN, nearly 60% of Dunkin’s sales derive from their beverages, so the rebrand is meant to paint Dunkin’ as a beverage-focused entity.

Dunkin’ CEO David Hoffman said, "Our new branding is one of many things we are doing as part of our blueprint for growth to modernize the Dunkin' experience for our customer." Most consumers refer to the brand as Dunkin’ already so, on top of refocusing their business objectives, Dunkin’ is taking a suggestion from the public, a smart marketing ploy.

But Dunkin’ is just the latest of a long list of food and beverage brands who simplified their names to expand or refocus. Let’s take a look.

new kfc logo


Kentucky Fried Chicken is a mouthful. While KFC needed to update their name to comply with the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s trademark in 1991, the brand had become known to their consumers as KFC, so dropping Kentucky from the name wasn’t a problem.

But the new name wasn’t just to satisfy the general public. The name change was a mission to inform consumers that KFC is more than just chicken. Dropping “chicken” from the name allowed KFC to expand their menu and potential consumer base. As their business objectives grew, their name needed modification.

Boston Market

Originally Boston Chicken, Boston Market specialized in rotisserie chicken. The brand, headquartered in Boston, MA, started in 1985 when founders discovered a need for plain, everyday foods in gourmet shops. The brand started small, focusing on chicken and side dishes like mashed potatoes and vegetables.

After seeing success, in 1995, executives wanted to expand the menu to other meats, like ham, turkey and meatloaf. With its expansion, the name of Boston Market was born, notifying their consumers they had more to offer than just chicken.

Chuck E. Cheese’s

In 1992, Chuck E. Cheese’s rebranded from Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre to Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza. In 1994, the brand landed on Chuck E. Cheese’s. Previously known for their pizza and theatre shows, Chuck E. Cheese’s aimed to expand their business.

By dropping “Pizza Time Theatre” from the name, the brand placed focus on their other menu options like wings, salads, sandwiches and desserts. But don’t forget, the main attraction of Chuck E. Cheese’s is the arcade, which isn’t lost in the most recent name change — the E in Chuck E. Cheese stands for entertainment.

As brands expand or refocus their offerings, names and public images may need to adapt. In the case of Dunkin’, KFC, Boston Market and Chuck E. Cheese’s, each dropped portions of their names to help realign their brands with their ambitions and expand their businesses.

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About the Author

Victoria Pallien

Victoria Pallien is a Marketing Communications Writer at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), the fastest growing independent agency focused on performance marketing. Since its inception, DMS has evolved into a full-service performance marketing company that services firms within highly complex and competitive industries including mortgage, education, insurance, consumer brands, automotive, jobs and careers. DMS has achieved incredible year-over-year growth, which has earned recognition on the Inc. 5000 list in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

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