Dine Brands / IHOP recently announced that they will be changing their name to IHOb, and we have two theories for this recent announcement. The first being that this could all be a marketing gimmick that will be followed by a change in their menu or business model which, depending on the change, might be beneficial to the brand. The other could be more serious—where they are actually moving forward with the name change. IHOP, owned by Dine Brands which also owns Applebee’s, has been relatively flat from a revenue perspective over the past years…. Recently, Dine Brands attempted a bold marketing strategy with Millennials, and ended up failing greatly due to their misunderstanding of the age group. The name change could be a very similar attempt by Dine to break from the struggling numbers they have been seeing over the past few years to satisfy investors.
Unfortunately, if Dine moves forward with a permanent name change of IHOP to IHOb, we believe it will be a truly wasted effort on their part. Anyone that has been to either establishment owned by Dine lately has noticed a drop in overall quality of the restaurants—a direct result of focusing more on cost cutting metrics instead of finding ways to truly be innovative to increase revenue. Regardless of what you call IHOP, at the end of the day, they are still going to have an overall brand perception issue with the general public, and they will continue to see flat or declining numbers in the upcoming years. For their sake, let’s hope it is just a marketing gimmick. Again, this all sums up another educational lesson at someone else’s expense: to not rely on gimmicks, such as name changes, without a true fundamental change to the business model. A name change is just that—a name change—and it doesn’t fix a true underlying issue.