Featured image for Papa Johns Refresh Charts New Course For The Pizza Brand

Papa Johns Refresh Charts New Course For The Pizza Brand

by Rudy Sanchez on 11/16/2021 | 4 Minute Read

Louisville, Kentucky-based international pizza chain Papa Johns wasn’t going to let 2021 end without unveiling a logo, look, and new store design as it moves ahead and away from its founder and former chief papa John Schnatter. The brand refresh emphasizes premium ingredients, streamlines the pizza chain’s look, and the restaurant design makes significant changes reflecting how Papa Johns' customers order pies.

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The logo, designed by agency Su Mathews Hale, removes the green border and “pizza” banner up top, as well as eliminating the apostrophe from “John’s.” The new wordmark now reads “Papa Johns,” set in the updated red, from the new color palette that the brand says is inspired by its pizza ingredients. The pared-down logo makes it more extensible and easily presented stacked, stretched, or in physical spaces such as store signage or pizza boxes, and digitally on its app and social media.

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Additionally, London-based forpeople created Papa Johns’ new visual identity system, including a custom font developed with foundry Colophon. The new font is more organic, and the brand says it is inspired by how fresh pizza dough pulls and stretches as it’s formed and flattened by Papa Johns' team members. The updated palette retains the core red and green but gives them a vibrant tweak, as Tangy tomato and Fresh basil. Other colors include off-white Fluffy dough, light purple Punchy garlic, and yellow-green Pickled pepperoncini, reinforcing the premium ingredients Papa Johns uses to make its pizzas.

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If you’ve noticed that every Papa Johns location has a unique layout, you are not alone. As part of the brand update, it enlisted the services of Big Red Rooster to standardize its store designs, adding a self-service option and drive-up lanes. Stores will also feature open layouts where customers can see their pizzas as they get prepared. This new format reminds customers of Papa Johns' premium products and conveys warmth in a modern way. The new workstations are modular and allow staff to prepare different offerings as the menu changes. 

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Though left unexplained in the announcement, removing the apostrophe from the brand name is a big step forward for the brand, as it creates a brand identity independent of its founder Schnatter. It’s subtle enough that the brand remains positively familiar to its customers while making its new direction clear.

“While the official name of the company is not changing, we are now using ‘Papa Johns’ when referring to our brand and company in written text,” Harrison Sheffield, senior communications manager, Papa Johns International, told Dieline.

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Papa Johns has already started a gradual phasing in of the new branding across its store and communications.


Update: A representative for John Schnatter emailed Dieline shortly after publication, asking for the inclusion of the following comment. It reads saltier than anchovies but is demonstrative of the challenges Papa Johns faces rebranding itself without its founder.

 “Today, Papa John’s [sic] announced several changes to the brand and store layout. While brands evolve over time to meet market demand, it’s gratifying to see that most of the concepts we developed over 34 years – including high-quality ingredients, customer service, logo colors, slogans, and more – are still supporting the company’s success. I am especially hopeful for the continued success of the franchisees, most of whom I know very well.”

 “My criticism of company management over the past three years has rested largely on their refusal to admit they were wrong about the false media narrative about me and my legacy and their failure to maintain a commitment to the principles on which we built the company brand, including consistent product quality with every single pizza made.”

 “Considering the enduring association of Papa John with the brand, the company’s change to the brand logo today is misplaced. Papa Johns should be obsessed with making quality pizza consistently and not obsessed with Papa John. Try as they may, they can’t have Papa Johns without Papa John.”