How Dunkin’ ditched its “Donut” for a Game changing Branding Strategy

Some logo designs stand out more than the others, but why? What’s the secret behind their unforgettable appeal? Is it the design, color palette, font, or a magical combination of all? To understand this, we’ll take you on an evolution tour of one of the most remarkable logos in the world, the Dunkin Donuts logo. 

Simple yet striking, the design looks as if it could be drawn by hand with colored pencils. Although the present version of the logo looks plain and uncomplicated, it wasn’t so in the initial years. Like any big brand, Dunkin’ Donuts modified its logo a number of times before giving it its current look. 

The transition of Dunkin Donuts logo

An American global doughnut company and coffeehouse chain, Dunkin Donuts was founded in 1950 by William Rosenberg in Quincy, Massachusetts. Since its inception, the brand has grown to become one of the largest global coffee and baked goods chains, with more than 11,000 restaurants in 33 different countries. There are over 1,000 items on its menu, including doughnuts, bagels, other baked goods, and a range of hot and cold beverages. 

The brand mostly competes with Starbucks in coffee sales, as well as with Honey Dew Donuts and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. Dunkin’ launched its first logo in 1950, the same year it was founded. While the initial logo was a dark red wordmark in a cursive script, it has come a long way since then. Let’s take a close look at how the Dunkin Donuts logo design has evolved with time. 

Fact Check: The brand’s mascot, called Dunkie, featured on the Dunkin Donuts logo in 1955. The dancing mascot’s body depicted a mug, while his head, legs, and hands were made of donuts. The 1950 script logo could be seen over the mug. This version was registered in 1961.

1950 – 1960

Dunkin Donuts logo from 1950 - 1960

The oldest Dunkin Donuts logo was nothing close to the present one. The phrase “Dunkin Donuts” was in italics and placed diagonally. The top bar of the alphabet “t” was elongated, stretched over “u” and “s”, the tail of which was stylishly curved. Both the handwritten script and the brownish-red color were so much different from the plump and quirky letters we’re used to now.

1960 – 1976

Dunkin Donuts logo from in 1960

It was now that the famous candy pink shade appeared on the emblem and has remained there ever since. The logo is based on a cup design, which is a symbolic way to say the brand sells coffee. The brand name is written in a donut shape at the top of the cup, which also indicates that they deal in donuts and other bakery items. In 1976, the pictorial part of the logo was replaced by the brand name “Dunkin’ Donuts” in orange and pink.

How Dunkin’ ditched its “Donut” for a Game changing Branding Strategy

The top part is in tinted candy orange whereas the bottom part is in fluorescent pink. The letters looked friendly and edible, and there was a fresh feel about the colors. This logo remained the face of the company for a long time until 2002, when they thought of redesigning it for better customer reach.

2002 – 2007

Dunkin Donuts logo in 2002

In the 2002 logo redesign project, the designers added a cup to the previous version to make customers immediately realize that they can buy coffee with donuts at Dunkin’ Donuts. Inside the cup, there’s a drink filled to the brim, over which clouds of steam appear. This is an indication that their products are always served fresh and hot. The graphic emblem is placed left to the brand name. In 2007, a few more modifications were done to this logo.

A brown outline and a few more details were added to the cup, giving it a more realistic and enticing look. Unlike an entire pink background, the rectangle behind the cup was colored in orange and pink, and the “Dunkin’ Donuts” was replaced with “DD” abbreviation.

2019 – Present

Latest and new Dunkin Donuts logo

In 2019, the brand once again changed its logo design to better fit the wide range of products that it offers. While the old version depicted donuts and coffee (through motifs), the present Dunkin Donuts logo does not portray anything particular and hence, allows a broader interpretation. The designers dropped the word “Donuts” from the wordmark, leaving “Dunkin”. The apostrophe at the top was also given the raspberry sorbet color. The font was also made bigger and more attractive so that it immediately catches the audience’s attention. 

Font and color of Dunkin Donuts logo

The marketing network for the brand’s donut and coffee sales section chose to promote the brand graphically. Hence, they thoughtfully chose a quirky color combination of candy pink and powdery yellow. While the first symbolizes happiness, positivity, high spirits, and brightness, the second stands for a freshly baked donut. Its purpose is to increase appetite and draw customers to their stores. The logo designer used a fun typeface similar to the Frankfurter and Debussy fonts to make the letters look plump and appetizing. The present version of the logo focuses on the presence of donuts, along with the expansion of their modern drinks section. 

The increasing competition in the beverage and snacks industry has induced Dunkin’ into making itself available for more than just donuts. Dunkin’s marketing strategy chiefly focuses on narrowing its menu, growing speed and convenience, and working more on its beverages than its food. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re ditching donuts from their menu. In reality, Dunkin’ sells over 3 billion doughnuts and munchkins in a year. The branding change is yet another effort of the brand to remain more relevant and accessible to its consumers. 

In the words of Tony Weisman, chief marketing officer at Dunkin’ U.S. , “By simplifying and modernizing our name, while still paying homage to our heritage, we have an opportunity to create an incredible new energy for Dunkin’, both in and outside our stores”.

Who would have thought that dropping a significant half of your brand name could be so simple and effective? It definitely takes a lot of courage to experiment with your branding and see what works (or doesn’t work). By choosing the thick, rounded typeface and candy colours with only minor changes to the packaging, even a regular customer could arrive at their local Dunkin’ Donuts without even realizing that it has changed its branding overnight.

Final thoughts on Dunkin Donuts logo evolution,

It’s easy to recognize a famous brand by its logo. For example, we instantly relate the bitten Apple logo with the Apple brand and the intertwined “Gs” with Gucci. For most of these successful brands in the world, their logo design and branding venture is a long journey. It didn’t just happen overnight; it took a lot of time, energy, and brainstorming to look at what it looks like today. They weren’t just cheap designs churned out of an automated logo generator. There were professional graphic designers who took the pain, time, and effort to give the brands their best visual identity. 

If you’re looking for an impressive business logo that’ll take your business to places, hire an experienced graphic designer who knows the ins and outs of the industry you’re dealing in.

Businesses accross the world have consulted DesignBro to build their brand with logo, website, packaging design and much more.

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How Dunkin’ ditched its “Donut” for a Game changing Branding Strategy

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