March 29, 2023
By: Ryan Lau
Dunkin’ Donuts is the largest donut provider and one of the biggest providers of coffee in the United States today. Being one of the first legitimate franchises, Dunkin' Donuts has become the first stop for donuts and one of the largest coffee suppliers in the nation.
With over 27 times more locations than second-place Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’ Donuts has managed to stay true to its roots and allowed itself to innovate and move with the times.
That said, how did the famous Dunkin’ Donuts logo come about?
The global donut and coffee shop adopted its first logo in 1950, the same year the business was launched. It was a dark crimson wordmark written in a cursive script that looked like handwriting.
Initially, the logo had a different design from what we know today. The deep red-brown color and the handwritten script reflected the times and the diner-like feel of the initial Dunkin’ Donuts prior to its move away from ceramic cups and the dine-in experience.
One of the two now-famous colors of the Dunkin Donuts logo made its debut in the 1960s. This color, called “Powdered Candy,” can still be found in today’s logo. With the coffee cup and the circular brand name on top, the logo represented the two items they were most famous for: donuts and coffee.
Another complete redesign of the Dunkin Donuts logo was called for in 1976, but this one would remain in some form to this day. With the introduction of the famous orange and pink color palette and the plump letters, the now-iconic logo was conceived. The brand colors have candy-like hues, and the typeface almost looks like it was made from donuts!
This Dunkin’ Donuts logo featured the same typeface and color scheme as the Dunkin’ Donuts logo, but with the addition of the coffee cup emblem. This pushed the coffee side of their business forward, and the new Dunkin Donut slogan, “America Runs on Dunkin’,” allowed them to expand further into the coffee market. The steam indicates that their coffee is always served hot and fresh (never more than 18 minutes old).
This small logo redesign highlighted the coffee cup in brown to clarify that it was, in fact, coffee and cleaned up the emblem to a 50/50 orange and pink split. This was also where they first introduced the DD logo. The alternative and smaller "DD" logo can be found on many of their locations as well as on specific pieces, such as their black card.
This final iteration is another departure from the previous version. While it keeps the same typeface and color palette, the drop of the coffee cup emblem and the word donuts from the logo (as well as the official name) allows for a broader interpretation and frees Dunkin’ to be able to pursue other avenues for building its brand.
The new logo also allows for “Dunkin’” to be in a larger font on cups or storefronts, catching the clients’ eyes faster and appearing more attractive.
It's true that the Dunkin’s success is in great part due to its founder and the brilliant ideas that led to its inception, but there's no denying the important role played by the company's now-iconic emblem.
But could the famous design be reimagined?
Design similar versions of the Dunkin’ logo below and take them home for free!
Thanks to a few subtle tweaks, we now have not one but two Dunkin’ logo variations to take inspiration from.
The current logo has only been around for the last three years, but its roots started in 1976. The original typeface and color palette are still being used. The typeface is fluffy and, with the orange color of freshly baked donuts, is meant to bring donuts to mind. The fun pink represents happiness, positivity, high spirits, and brightness.
The idea of removing “Donuts” from the name and logo was meant to simplify the name while paying respect to their heritage and opening up the possibility for other opportunities for Dunkin’ Donuts. Initially introduced in 2018 at its original location in Massachusetts, it was slowly rolled out over the next year. The name has been sluggish to catch on, however slowly it is.
With the brand recognition associated with the color and typeface, the Dunkin Donuts logo could be simplified and cut down. The simplification of a logo is an action that many large corporations take, allowing for greater diversity and, over time, increasing brand recognition even further.
This is a challenging step as the timing for implementing this is difficult to judge. Also, you must have a specific attribute of your original logo or name that the public identifies with almost exclusively. That said, the payoff in brand identity and recognition is large.
But with great recognition comes humble beginnings.
How did a high school dropout go on to establish a company with over 10,000 stores in the United States alone?
Founder William Rosenberg was born in Boston in 1916.
He would go on to drop out of school in the eighth grade to help support his family during the Great Depression. Still, he eventually became a successful national sales manager at SimCo, an ice cream truck business, by the age of 20.
To avoid serving time in the war, he worked in the American shipyards as an electrician. During this time, he noticed that some carts would come around to provide snacks and food for the workers. After the war, he started his own company, Industrial Luncheon Services, to do what those carts did, but with a few improvements.
By 1948, he had over 200 drivers in his company, but it wasn’t until three years after opening that he started to sell donuts in addition to coffee, describing the two as “husband and wife.” These products had the highest margins but were also the most popular, so he decided to open a permanent store with a focus on these two items.
In 1948, the first Dunkin’ Donuts store opened. They were originally called Open Kettle and sold 52 varieties of donuts (as opposed to the usual 4) as well as the famous coffee. They chose 52 so that they could promote one of them for each week of the year.
Then, in 1950, they changed their name to Dunkin’ Donuts and cut out many of the other items from their menu (initially also selling soup and sandwiches) to focus even more on the donut and coffee experience.
By 1955, he had opened an additional five stores. Still, each one took a significant investment of time and money, so they started franchising their restaurants. This means another individual would pay him to operate their store under his name and brand and use his food or recipes.
Rosenberg was one of the first to franchise his chain legitimately and started the IFA, the International Franchising Association.
By 1963, they had reached 100 locations, and in 1979, they had over 1000 stores, almost all of them franchised. They have since grown to 13,000 stores as of 2019, with the majority found in the United States.
However, in recent years, they have slowly moved their emphasis away from donuts and toward coffee. They have also been decreasing the number of varieties of donuts and increasing the varieties of coffee and espresso.
Furthermore, they changed their name from Dunkin’ Donuts to simply Dunkin'. Additionally, they started using a new slogan, “America Runs on Dunkin’,” signifying their primary focus on coffee.
Not only did Rosenberg first recognize the enormous impact the franchising business model would have on American consumers and industries, but he also gave us the donuts we know and love today. His mission to help and feed people amidst a dark time has given birth to a beloved brand effortlessly known across the world.
Ready to have your jaw dropped? These are seven fun facts about the Dunkin’ Donuts brand and products that will truly shock you.
Initially called Open Kettle, the first Dunkin’ Donuts store has since been restored to its authentic look and still sells coffee and donuts.
Done to reflect the local food culture, these donuts use different flavors and popular foods from different countries. In Singapore, there is a seaweed cheese and a wasabi cheese donut. In China, there is a dried pork and seaweed donut. New York and Chicago have the peanut stick donut and the sour cream donut, respectively.
Dunkin’ Donuts’ first overseas store opened in Japan in 1970, 20 years after the company’s founding. It didn’t open a store in the UK until 2013. Of their 13,000 locations, over 10,000 of them are found in the US. The city with the most stores is New York, which currently has over 600 locations.
In 2020, Dunkin’ cut ten percent of its menu, removing complicated items to streamline its business. They also transitioned from artificial to all-natural coloring a few years ago.
A munchkin is Dunkin’s name for a donut hole, and they were introduced all the way back in 1973. Originally sold as a way not to waste the extra dough cut out from the donut, the process has since been automated.
Thanks to the wide variety of syrups, sweeteners, and types of coffee, you can order over 15,000 different coffee cup varieties. With all of these varieties, they are selling over 2 billion cups of coffee annually.
Exclusive members are given the DD black card. While there aren’t many major perks, it acts like a rechargeable gift card. Still, it must be important for Dunkin’ to send you one of these as a token of appreciation.
What are some commonly asked questions about the Dunkin logo? Get your questions answered with these three FAQs.
Lucia DeRespinis designed the Dunkin Donuts logo in 1976. She is most known for the iconic logo, among other works in industrial design, which are currently displayed at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art.
Lucia DeRespinis, the designer of the logo, suggested that the colors were too “toasted” and that since donuts are meant to be fun, so should the brand and logo design. She suggested keeping the design but adding in her daughter's favorite colors, pink and orange. The colors have stuck around to this day.
Open Kettle. In fact, the first Dunkin Donuts restaurant is still in operation. When founder William Rosenberg opened his first coffee and donut shop in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1948, it was originally named Open Kettle and served coffee, pastries, and sandwiches.
The logo has its roots back in 1976, and the latest changes have brought it closer to its roots. The Dunkin logo of today works as Dunkin’ allowed its original logo to represent its brand and what it had to offer, before simplifying the logo to what the customer base recognizes the brand by.
The Dunkin’ Donuts logo has remained largely unchanged over the years, with a few additions, omissions, and slight tweaks. This is similar to the overall business model and brand.
Being able to remain the same while adapting simultaneously seems like a contradiction and is a tough balance, but Dunkin’ has managed it. Thanks to this balance, it has been able to keep expanding and growing in popularity.