Looking at the consumer landscape, it is easy to pick out brands that have been with us for as long as we can remember. Immediately, you might think of brands like Coca-Cola, Apple, IBM, McDonald’s and many others. Their personalities are emblazoned in our minds to the point where we can recite their popular jingles and possibly even draw their logos on paper. This is called, “unaided awareness,” meaning you have a subconscious attachment to the brand. This is due, in part, to the personal connections we have developed with these brands over the years. For example, I remember when I worked with my dad on my first summer job. I was 13, and every day, we’d wake up at the crack of dawn and head over to Dunkin Donuts. I’d get a donut or a bagel with some kind of juice. But, my dad would order a croissant and a coffee. He’d have it how he still has it to this day, medium regular with milk and four sugars. We’d then sit in the car and talk over our breakfast until we had to punch in for work. Those moments with my dad are moments I’ll never forget, and Dunkin Donuts will always be a part of that story.
But, how is it that Dunkin Donuts and other long-standing brands like it, has managed to stay relevant to an ever-changing audience? It is about acknowledging the past and giving credence to the present. What does this mean? When we think about brands that have been with us for decades, some for more than a century, we have to realize that they have survived amid enormous cultural change. Including different generations of evolving mindsets, like my fathers generation as well as my own. For example, when Starbucks entered the picture and fixed itself upon global domination, Dunkin Donuts did not rush out to make its brand more youth oriented by adding gradients or cleaner typography. What did the company do? It stuck with its candy colored pink and hot dog font and just added a coffee cup next to their logo. It didn’t put on airs or presume to be something it was not. Dunkin Donuts, as well as other long-standing brands, has learned to adapt, but has not forgotten itself in the process. Many brands have created a presence for themselves through social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, etc… Does this mean they have sold out? Absolutely not, it means that they have recognized the need to continue to stay relevant to their ever-changing customer base. If you look at other brands that have stood the test of time, this ethos continues to ring true. They all stay honest to their brand and their consumers, but still manage to adapt by leveraging change as an opportunity to further interact with their customers, responding to their questions, while also reaching new generations of consumers.
Does this really make sense? To this day, whenever I need a pick me up, where do I go? Even though Starbucks may be next door, I walk the few extra minutes to the Dunkin Donuts down the block, to get my medium regular with milk and four sugars