Papa John’s Pizza Rebrands Drops the Apostrophe

The pizza chain that began its journey in 1984 by John Schnatter who was popularly called ‘Papa John’ is changing its name, and the founder has a problem with it as the brand is dropping its apostrophe in the name.

The brand announced that customers will now have a new feel of the brand; including a new design for its restaurants, a new logo and a new visual brand identity.

Renderings show more open floor plans for its restaurants and a self-service pickup counter for customers to take home their orders without waiting in line. The company also has released a new logo, though it appears to be sticking with its longtime slogan of “Better ingredients. Better pizza.” The brand has also updated its colour scheme, brightening its green and red hues.

Papa Johns’ new streamlined, flexible environment will provide seamless purchasing and pick-up experiences for customers and empower Papa Johns team members to more efficiently prepare quality food. The new open-floorplan restaurant design blends modern simplicity with the warmth of the experience that invites people to enjoy pizza. Through handcrafted, personalized details, customers will be surrounded by premium ingredients and delicious food in a modern, inviting atmosphere.

Based on extensive research, Papa Johns carefully crafted the new restaurant design to provide its customers with better pick-up options – in the drive-thru, at “Drive-Up Pick Up” and inside at the pick-up counter, which now includes a self-service option that allows customers to quickly grab their order without waiting in line.

For Papa John’s, removing that possessive has a dual meaning. It is one last break, albeit a symbolic one, from its years under the oversight of founder John Schnatter, who guided its growth for years only to leave the company after apparently making a racial epithet during a conference call in 2018.

It also represents the company’s recovery from steep sales declines during that period. Papa Johns in the past two years has overhauled management, named a new CEO in Rob Lynch, changed its marketing and product development, opened a second headquarters in Atlanta and brought in Shaquille O’Neal to be a brand ambassador and board director.

“We have a story to tell,” said the Chief Commercial Officer Max Wetzel, noting that the brand’s personality and tone are more vibrant and the company wanted to get that across. Also, he said, “It’s been a long time since we’ve made a change to the logo. We felt like it was the perfect time to bring in a strong brand strategy and bring in more modernization.”

The logo and messaging continue with its “better ingredients, better pizza” tagline but the company is emphasizing the simplicity of its recipes. For instance, one ad says “Flour. Water. Sugar. Oil. Salt. Yeast. Six simple ingredients. The rest is up to you.”

The color scheme has also changed somewhat, though it continues with Papa Johns’ original green and red but adds different colors of red along with other colors, such as light purple and bright yellowish-green.

As for the logo, it’s “stackable,” meaning that it can be changed to fit different sizes while still being readable. “It’s all about flexibility,” Wetzel added. “It has to be as strong on the outside of the restaurant as it does on the app.”

“We’ve taken a step back,” Wetzel said. “We’re still better ingredients, better pizza. But how do we bring the story to life in all our consumer touchpoints and make it more relevant.”

Schnatter, a Jeffersonville native who founded the massive pizza chain in 1984, stepped down as CEO of the company in early 2018 after suggesting player protests in the NFL had hurt business at his restaurants. Months later, he resigned from the Papa Johns board of directors after it was reported that he’d used a racial slur on a conference call, though he’s said he was quoting someone else when he used the phrase.

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