Duane Reade started their massive rebranding in 2009. Until two months ago, my Duane Reade, at the corner of Flatbush and 7th Avenues in Park Slope, Brooklyn, avoided the changes happening to its siblings all over the city, and wore its worn and faded red, white, and blue sign and dated interior proudly all of its operational 24 hours a day.
It’s “my” Duane Reade not only because it’s local to me, but because the desk in my home office overlooks the storefront and all its 24 hour hubbub. So for the past couple of months, since they decided that this DR was next up for a facelift, I’ve been watching the construction workers come and go, disputes on the sidewalk over permits (from what I could discern), a new sign go up, then come down, then go back up again.
Branding and rebranding is part of my everyday life anyway, so it’s been fun to see it happening is such a major way through my window. Obviously the new look, both inside and out, is a major improvement, bringing Duane Reade into the modern age and making it very much more “New York” in the sense that it’s as chic as a drugstore can be—not to mention that it’s now dressed in the most New York of colors: black.
Val Brown’s piece for the Huffington Post from July, 2009, entitled Duane Reade Rebrands. New Yorkers Rejoice. points out that they did a lot right with the rebranding, but reminds us of the most important lesson of rebranding: it’s not all about looks, but also product, message, and customer service. Considering how understaffed the registers are and how much the pharmacists seem to hate the entire world, let’s hope they’re doing more than angling the shelves and selling hummus and instead truly rebranding. Because if they insist on putting all of the local mom-and-pop pharmacies out of business, I hope that at the very least they respect us enough to attempt to provide some of the personal attention a drugstore that’s mine should offer.