Papa Johns distances itself further from founder Schnatter in brand refresh

Redesign will roll out in gradual, phased approach to customers, team members starting this month, construction on new stores to kick off in 2022

Papa Johns is undergoing a brand refresh, including a new logo, store design and visual brand identity, as the pizza chain looks to further distance itself from its disgraced founder and former CEO John Schnatter

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The company's new logo and advertising will feature updated hues of the pizza chain's signature red and green colors and highlight the company's ingredients. In addition, the logo drops the apostrophe from the word Johns. 

Papa Johns new visual identity draws inspiration from its ingredients and is brought to life through colors like tangy tomato (red), fresh basil (green), fluffy dough (off-white), a custom typography, photos and illustrations. (Papa Johns)

Meanwhile, the new locations will have an open floor plan, updated kitchens, and a new self-service option at its pick-up counter. Similar to the logo and ads, decor in the stores will also showcase ingredients. 

Papa Johns new restaurant design will provide seamless purchasing and pick-up experiences for customers and empower Papa Johns team members to more efficiently prepare quality food. (Papa Johns)

Papa Johns' 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 delicio (Papa Johns)

Papa Johns new visual identity draws inspiration from the premium ingredients it is known for and is brought to life through colors like tangy tomato (red), fresh basil (green), fluffy dough (off-white), a custom typography, photos and illustrations. (Papa Johns)

"We are evolving how the Papa Johns experience comes to life across all touchpoints, while remaining true to what got us where we are today and bringing to life our continued aspirations to improve and grow," Papa John's chief commercial officer Max Wetzel said in a statement. "This new experience is both a celebration of our tremendous momentum and a vision to inspire future growth."

The redesign will be rolled out in a gradual, phased approach to customers and team members beginning this month and a spokesperson told FOX Business it expects construction of restaurants implementing the new design to begin next year.

"Some of our touchpoints, like digital channels, have already been updated with our new logo, while other touchpoints, like restaurant signs, will have the flexibility to be updated over time," the spokesperson explained. "This period of overlap was carefully considered as we built the visual identity system, to ensure that the previous and new could co-exist in the market for a period of time."

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John Schnatter, who resigned from the company in 2018 after using a racial slur during a conference call, has previously claimed that he was "set up" by the Papa Johns' board of directors and Laundry Service executives. Immediately following the controversy, Papa Johns put out new ads focused on a diverse group of franchisees to distance themselves. 

A third party investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh determined Schnatter's comments were "neither intended nor can reasonably be interpreted to reflect any racial bias, prejudice, or disrespect for African Americans or people of color." Freeh also said that Schnatter's personal experiences and reputation with prominent African Americans and other people of color "completely validates and corroborates the separate finding that Mr. Schnatter had no prejudicial intent or racial animus when he made the public comments at issue." 

In addition, Freeh argued that facts and fairness were "drowned out by the more sensationalized mischaracterization in the mainstream and social media" and concluded that Schnatter did not make a racial slur. 

John Schnattner visits "Mornings with Maria" hosted by Maria Bartiromo at Fox Business Network Studios on Sept. 9, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

"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," Schnatter said in a statement about the redesign. "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."

However, he argued that the company's logo change is "misplaced."

"Instead of being obsessed with Papa John and irrelevant changes to the brand logo, the company should become obsessed once again with making quality Papa Johns pizza consistently," he continued. "Try as they may, they can't have Papa Johns without Papa John."

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Papa Johns isn't the only company that has refreshed its brand and redesigned its stores in recent years.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
PZZA PAPA JOHN'S INTERNATIONAL INC. 82.52 -0.80 -0.96%
MCD MCDONALD'S CORP. 272.88 -2.12 -0.77%
RBI n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.

In November 2020, McDonald's announced plans for drive-thru-only restaurants, new packaging and a meat alternative offering called McPlant, which is co-developed with Beyond Meat. The McPlant made its debut in the U.S. in October. In addition, Burger King announced a redesign of its stores in September 2020 and unveiled a new logo and packaging in January.