rp Reacts: Whose Pizza Is It Anyway?

One little apostrophe can make a big difference.

Have you heard about the Papa Johns logo? Or do you not spend your days forming opinions about pizza rebrands...just us? Oh.

Either way, we're sharing thoughts about whether the pizza chain nailed it or failed it with their newest logo redesign—including what we make of the little detail that makes a big difference: the missing apostrophe in "Papa John's." The change is predicted to be an attempt by the brand to distance itself from racist comments made by its founder in 2018. But does changing the brand name's punctuation really do anything to address that? And what (if anything) does the redesigned logo add to the brand's look and feel? Here's our take:

I'd be interested to know if the intention here is to embrace the way people actually use their name. Because it feels like they’re leaning into the “Krogers” dilemma (where the brand name is actually "Kroger," but people tend to say "Krogers" anyway). The kerning between the A and J feels so nonexistent that it practically reads “PAPAJOHNS.”

Greg Frank, Associate Creative Director

I get that they’re trying to distance the brand from their founder based on his comments from 2018—but honestly, getting rid of a tiny apostrophe 4 years later feels too little, too late. 

If they are really trying to take a moral high ground, there are much more impactful routes to take (donating to organizations like the NAACP, continuing to take explicitly anti-racist stances, or completely disassociating from the founder’s name to name a few). 

Jesse Spear, Marketing Manager

Papa Johns is a brand that has been around a long time—long enough that their previous logo was showing its age, but it was also relatively iconic. To me, the fonts in the new logo look a bit immature for a brand that is very much a part of the “pizza establishment.”

Plus, I think the new design unnecessarily adds more text (and therefore visual noise) to the logo. Recognizing a logo should feel almost subconscious...not require additional focus to ready tiny words.

Sterling Crawford, Project Manager

To me, the new logo is a nice evolution. It makes sense that they want to distance themselves from their founder, and the matter of the possessive is a matter of “who cares?” The possessive has become ubiquitous and has lost its original meaning over time anyway.

I don’t think that every time someone behind the counter answers the phone that they’re channeling the vision of one person. It’s moved from a person’s name and into the vernacular of cheap, hot, kind-of-ok pizza. From a design standpoint, it’s certainly cleaner and less fussy.

Drew Beamer, Associate Creative Director

I actually like the new logo. It has the form of the old one to maintain the familiar feel of a comfort food brand—but with a more modern look to it.

Joshua Brand, Jr. Graphic Designer

Decent logo...but it needs a little pepperoncini somewhere.

Matt Reed, Creative Technologist

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