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What’s in a Name? Dunkin, Neighborly to Find Out


No more donuts in the Dunkin' name as of January 2019.

“Dunkin’ Donuts to change its name to Dunkin'. Apparently the company is sick of the hole thing.” So wise-cracked Mike Stobbe on Twitter, probably the best attempt to mock the name change of the storied brand, announced last week and set to officially change in January.

But at least one expert marketer approves of the change, as well as another, less high-profile switch announced in recent weeks. Denise Kohnke, founder and CEO of the Milwaukee-based marketing firm House United, called the Dunkin' change “a great idea. I suspect they’ve been planning this for a while. Sixty percent of what they sell is coffee, so this makes perfect sense. Pivots in general like this re-invigorate brands, and when executed well they are great tactics,” she said.

She didn’t put much stock in criticism on Twitter. “Twitter I think blew up, because that’s what Twitter does." Tweeters "are little birds on a wire that chirp negatively at things,” she said. “Frankly this is a perfect strategy for Dunkin’ Donuts to pivot themselves. It makes all sorts of sense, and in a year you will never even remember they had donuts in their name. Plus the world is changing, and donuts are not exactly healthy, so any kind of distance from a non-healthy component of your name isn’t a bad idea.”

Meanwhile the Dwyer Group, parent company of 21 home service brands, changed its corporate name to Neighborly, the Waco-based franchisor announced September 20. The decision follows “the rapid success of the consumer-facing Neighborly platform developed a little more than a year ago to unite all of its service franchise brands under one umbrella,” the company said in a statement.

Dwyer is the family name of the company’s founder, the late Don Dwyer, whose daughter Dina Dwyer-Owens is brand ambassador and board member, and dropping a family name can be particularly difficult for founding families. But again Kohnke applauded this change.

“Especially now, brands have to make sure that they keep up. And one of the a-ha’s of the last decade is that, our expectations for how we shop and connect with services is very different,”she said. “It looks like they’re trying to become the Amazon of home services, which makes perfect sense, because that’s what people want.

“I respect that kind of bravery from a brand. I respect it when brands see the light and say let’s change because this makes sense,” she said. “It’s a badge of a consumer-centric company in that they’re putting the consumer decision journey before the egos of the family name.”

As for why I contacted Kohnke in the first place to get her views, naturally it was because I liked the name of her book: “All the Other Marketing Books Are Crap.”


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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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