October 15, 2018

Identity Issues: More on Rebranding and Brand Nicknames

Only three months ago we wrote about rebranding. Just two months ago we wrote about beloved brand nicknames. Then, last month, two companies announced plans to rebrand to abbreviations of their current marks. Coincidence? Probably, but we are going to take the opportunity to revisit those topics anyway.

On September 25, 2018, Dunkin' Donuts announced that it would be rebranding as DUNKIN' beginning January 2019:

Mackay Brandnicknames2 Dunkin

"Dunkin'" sounds like "Duncan" and is the first word in the existing two-word brand. This change sounds like a friendly invitation to consumers to call the brand by its first name. But apparently many of the company's loyal customers had been abbreviating the mark to the first term (or variations of it) already. As pointed out in the press release announcing the rebrand, the company has "been on a first name basis with its fans" for a long time. This is further reinforced by the tag line, "Our friends call us Dunkin'." In this rebranding, the company may be taking a cue from the nickname bestowed on it by its consumers. The rebranding capitalizes on affection shown by the brand's fans in abbreviating the official mark and hopefully makes them feel even more connected while attracting a broader audience.

Clues that the company may have been planning the rebrand for a while may lie in the trademark applications filed with the US PTO. The company filed four applications for DUNKIN' alone between January of this year and the present. The company also explains that the rebranding is "one more step in the company's journey to transform into beverage-led, on-the-go brand." The company has long been known for its coffee, but perhaps one of its recent trademark applications hinted at a broader meaning for 'beverage-led.' On May 23, 2018, the company filed an intent to use application to register DUNKIN' for use in connection with beer. Just last week Dunkin' Donuts announced a beer produced as a collaboration with Harpoon Brewery.

Mackay Brandnicknames2 Dunkincups

After visiting DUNKIN' too many times, perhaps one needs assistance from the other company to announce rebranding recently. The day before the DUNKIN' rebranding announcement, Weight Watchers announced that it will become WW:

Mackay Brandnicknames2 Ww

Weight Watchers has owned registrations for WW (stylized) for at least a few years. So this transition will also be to a familiar mark and not a radical departure, even if the new brand is not a nickname previously used by loyal fans. The rebranding tracks the company's desire to shift the focus from weight loss to wellness. This is to be reinforced with introduction of the tag line "Wellness that Works."

The company announced that a new campaign will launch in late December 2018 and that workshop locations will be refreshed in 2019. The company has launched videos to help announce the rebrand. You can see the short version: Weight Watchers Become WW. There is no voice over for the videos; only music accompanying printed words and images. This highlights the visual impact of the new brand, which is more compact and concise than "Weight Watchers." The absence of any voice over means one does not have to assess the aural impact of the new brand, which is a bit less punchy as it takes longer to pronounce than the old one.

How fortunate to have these two recent examples to illustrate concepts we recently covered. Sometimes art imitates life. Sometimes life imitates blogs. And sometimes there's just coincidence.!