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Holes in the Dunkin’ Donuts brand expansion strategy?

Dunkin’ Donuts is in the midst of a major brand revival effort, including new franchise interior colors, food and in-store experience offerings and a large expansion of their footprint across the country. The company is planning to add 10,000 new locations over the next 14 years.

According to a Boston Globe article, the company is introducing breakfast pizzas, gourmet treats, new self-serve coffee stations and maybe even accompanying gas stations. The goal is to compete with Starbucks and McDonalds using size and new products as a competitive advantage.

Last time I looked, the company was called “Dunkin’ Donuts” and executives there are talking about everything but donuts. Too many organizations fail because they try to be known for everything, and in the process lose their core brand identity and along with it, their unique selling proposition.

Check out the book “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding” by Al and Laura Ries, especially chapter 1 – The Law of Expansion and chapter 2, The Law of Extensions for truly expert advice in this area.

When asked whether the new stores will be designed to look like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts’ chief creative and innovation officer responded, “New stores will have no fireplaces, no couches, or WiFi connections.”

A more strategic answer would have reinforced the key elements of the Dunkin’ Donuts brand rather than point out what it is not.

Is Dunkin’ Donuts in the same position as Detroit’s car companies? Should it be narrowing its focus to fewer, more focused offerings or at at least more extensions along the donut and sweet treats lines? Or am I missing a bigger realm of opportunities? You tell me.

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