Dunkin’ for customers

Growing up in New England, a Dunks was never that far away. In fact, the joke was, you can’t give driving directions without mentioning a turn near one of the familiar pink and orange landmarks. Even today, in more rural areas, activity really seems to pulse through the shops on everyone’s way to work. Dunkin’ Donuts are just-about-everywhere, always a part of our lives.

That feeling’s even more pronounced in Boston, especially when you’re part of the city’s tight creative and marketing community and never that far from working for the brand in some way. It also means that the name change announced this past week from Dunkin’ Donuts to Dunkins’ was a poorly kept secret for many years. It wasn’t a surprise — no matter how hard the PR machine worked to make it news.

I have to also disclose my own relationship to the brand. I am the son of an extended family of franchisees. A great example of immigration, hard work and the now seemingly fleeting American Dream. There’s also something weirdly special having Fred the Baker come to your family’s 4th of July barbecue. Let’s just say, he loved lobster.

This gives me a lot of ground to speak about the name change from a personal and professional perspective. For instance, Dunks, a name already part of the New England vernacular, could have been chosen. But that probably has too much of a Boston edge to be acceptable — too much of Ben Affleck’s “The Town” personality — to be taken to a national, and even global, audience.

And that right there is the essential aspiration of the brand. It’s competing on a scale and playing on a field much larger than New England now. It’s competing for that special combination of relevance, experience, time, accuracy and product every brand is craving. And really, this new name — with its more active feeling that calls us all to action — is just what the brand needs now.

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