Dunkin' Donuts and its branding dilemma

Geoffrey Precourt

At some point, a brand name becomes so common that it is almost generic. General Electric, for instance, does a whole lot more than make light bulbs, but the public perception of the brand has expanded as its portfolio has grown far beyond its initial offerings. No one thinks of the Atlantic Telegraph and Telephone Company, with AT&T having market penetration far beyond the landline devices of old.

But imagine the on-going naming torment experienced by Dunkin' Donuts, the QSR chain that started with a single shop in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1950. Over the last 25 years, as the chain has expanded far beyond its New England heritage, so the public perception of "donuts" has changed, as they climb up the list of foods we probably shouldn't eat.

Chris FuquaSo it was no surprise when Chris Fuqua, vp/brand marketing at Dunkin' Donuts, announced to an audience of delegates at the Association of National Advertisers' 2014 Brand Masters Conference in Hollywood, Florida, "We are a coffee company. We are a coffee company every day to more people around the world than I can possibly describe."