Starting next year, Dunkin’ Donuts is going to be removing “donuts,” from its name; the company, in turn, will be known as ‘Dunkin.’ While the company maintained that it’s going to preserve its signature colors and font, it remarked that the name change better accommodates the majority of the chain’s business, which lies in beverage sales. Dunkin Donuts is one of many iconic brands that have been pursuing rebranding strategies. Recently, Weight Watchers has become “WW” and Michael Kors announced it would rename the company to Capri Holdings Limited once its bid to buy Versace is completed. Even IHOP changed its name to IHOB—becoming the International House of Burgers—for a brief time during a summer marketing gimmick.

One of the most common questions that surrounds companies’ rebranding strategies is why would companies change their names? In a society where association and brand recognition are key to vitality, renaming a company or brand seems almost detrimental. However, when it comes to companies maintaining relevance and image, rebranding can prove beneficial when approached methodically.  

In the case of Dunkin’ Donuts, the company recognized the prominence of its beverage sales—primarily coffee—and changed its name accordingly. This shift maintains the chain’s relevancy, as coffee has remained marketable, surpassing donuts in business popularity. By initiating rebranding strategies, companies ensure their names do not limit their business or participation in their intended industry.

In a similar vein, rebranding helps companies alter their brand image to more closely reflect company and brand goals. Chief Executive of Dunkin’ Brands, David Hoffman, emphasized the chain’s strategy to leverage its current business to predominately sell on-the-go beverages. As exemplified by this change, rebranding can prove more accurate, as it serves to promote products, services, or goals a company wishes to begin focusing on. Renaming can create flexibility that accommodates such a shift in priority.

While rebranding can prove beneficial for relevancy or brand image, renaming a company or brand might mean consumers lose emotional connection and familiarity. Some rebranding strategies catch on quickly, such as Federal Express’s condensation to FedEx, while others can disrupt customer loyalty. It is advised companies refrain from rebranding if the strategized changes do not serve to maintain relevance or accurately enhance or update brand image.