Talking Points
April 2024

Brands Are Getting Simpler

Modernizing your brand identity is often essential in this mobile-first, digital era. More companies, it seems, are moving to simple brand visuals influenced by digital technology. However, refreshing your brand doesn’t come without risks. To illustrate our point, let’s look at Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts).

Dunkin’ without donuts
In 2018, longtime donut maker Dunkin’ Donuts dropped the word “donuts” from its name and streamlined its logo. Several factors play a contributing role in this change:

•  The company’s evolution into a beverage-led, on-the-go brand
•  The trend towards short and simple brand identities led by major tech companies
•  The need for simple marks that can be quickly recognized on mobile devices

Dunkin Donuts


Testing the waters
Brand and logo changes can’t just be embraced by marketing execs, though. Customers must buy into the change as well. So, the company embarked on a step-by-step plan to make the transition easier.

•  Years before the change, the company adopted the tagline “America runs on Dunkin’”
•  Then, to imply they offer more than “donuts,” they abandoned the word itself
•  Finally, the company tested the new logo before committing to a complete rebrand

A risk worth taking
Not every brand can get away with shortening its name. There’s always the danger that by shortening your identity it becomes confusing, or worse, unidentifiable. Others—such as Gatorade and Weight Watchers—have attempted similar brand simplifications and suffered the consequences. In the case of Dunkin’, the change has worked out favorably.

•  Internal research suggested the change has been well received by consumers
•  Dunkin’ retained its positive brand associations
•  The company was also able to expand what their brand represents
•  The new brand works far better in mobile media

Dunkin’ is an ideal case study for both the need to modernize brands for mobile media and the way rebranding is executed. They found a way to stay faithful to their brand’s origin while also charting a course for its future in the digital age.

Based on The ins and outs of simpler brand identities by Dianna Christe.

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