Dunkin' Donuts rebrands as Dunkin', leaving hole in the hearts of doughnut lovers

File photo of a Dunkin' sign at a store in Pasadena, California, US, on Aug 2, 2017. The US chain will still sell doughnuts, but will feature a new logo on packaging, store signage and advertising.
File photo of a Dunkin' sign at a store in Pasadena, California, US, on Aug 2, 2017. The US chain will still sell doughnuts, but will feature a new logo on packaging, store signage and advertising.PHOTO: REUTERS

CHICAGO (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Dunkin' Donuts is becoming just Dunkin'.

The coffee-and-doughnut chain, which will make the change official in January, is following in the footsteps of companies like Walmart (which recently removed its pesky hyphen), WW (previously Weight Watchers) and IHOB (technically still IHOP, but temporarily rebranded earlier this year to call attention to its burgers). The company announced the new name in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 25).

The move shows how companies are increasingly putting value on shorter, snappier monikers that are supposed to appeal to a younger generation. Mr Tony Weisman, chief marketing officer for the chain, said the simpler name will "create an incredible new energy for Dunkin', both in and outside our stores".

The US chain will still sell doughnuts, but starting in January, it will feature a new logo on packaging, store signage and advertising, while retaining its orange and pink color scheme.

"We are now on a first-name basis with America," Mr Weisman said, explaining the change.

But doughnut lovers took to social media on Tuesday to decry the move by Dunkin' Donuts to drop its signature product from its name.

"Is nothing sacred anymore?" tweeted Eileen McKnight, @eileenmck58, after hearing of the news.

"They literally invented the word 'Donut.' They should keep it forever," Dave Iarocci, @larocciDave, tweeted last month.

The shorter brand names might appeal to a younger generation that has brought texting abbreviations like "LOL" (laugh out loud) and "OMG" (oh my God) into the mainstream, but many longtime brand loyalists opposed the identity shifts.

"Just a tragic, heartbreaking sign of the times," wrote doughnut aficionado Billy Glidden, @BillyGlidden, his tongue apparently planted firmly in cheek. "Our civilisation is inexorably in decline."

The 68-year-old company, based in Canton, Massachusetts, started rolling out the new identity over the last few months, opening 30 "Dunkin'" locations around Boston. That triggered a backlash even ahead of Tuesday's announcement.

The brand's launch in 1950 coincided with the popularisation of the alternative spelling of "doughnut" as "donut", according to Google Books data.