Papa John’s is changing its name — sort of

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Papa Johns revealed plans for its new identity in a press release issued Tuesday, but did not specifically address the name change or the reasoning behind it. (Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – Papa John’s is launching a new brand identity — and that means dropping the apostrophe.

The pizza chain, which formerly used the possessive form of “Papa John’s” for its branding and marketing, will now be known as “Papa Johns” for all customer-facing purposes and written references going forward.

The company itself, Papa John’s International, will not be changing its name, a Papa Johns representative confirmed.

Papa Johns revealed plans for its new identity in a press release issued Tuesday, but did not specifically address the name change or the reasoning behind it. A representative for Papa Johns would only say that removing the apostrophe was “not abnormal” for a longtime brand. (Cicis and Bojangles, too, have dropped their apostrophes in recent years.)

Papa John’s announced the new branding and logo on Tuesday. (Papa Johns)

Along with the name change, Papa Johns touted a new logo (apostrophe-free, or course), and a new restaurant layout featuring an open floorplan, a self-service pick-up area, and modular kitchen stations for food prep. The brand is also embracing a new “visual identity” with updated typography, photography, illustrations and a new color palette featuring hues such as “tangy tomato” and “pickled pepperoncini.”

“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,” said Max Wetzel, Papa Johns’ Chief Commercial Officer, in Tuesday’s press release. “This new experience is both a celebration of our tremendous momentum and a vision to inspire future growth.”

Plans for Papa Johns’ new “visual identity” extend to the restaurants themselves, which will feature a new open floorplan and updated design elements. (Papa Johns)

In an interview with Restaurant Business Online, Wetzel commented further on the removal of the apostrophe from “Papa John’s,” again citing other brands that made similar decisions.

‘It’s consistent with a lot of brands as they move over time, they’ve pulled that out to represent the company,” he said.

As noted by the outlet, removing the apostrophe may be yet another way that Papa Johns is distancing itself from founder John Schnatter. Schnatter had stepped down as CEO in 2018 after criticizing the NFL (which Papa John’s had sponsored) for its handling of the national anthem kneeling protests. He later resigned as chairman of the board following controversy over a training exercise he participated in, during which he used the n-word.

Amid the controversy, Papa John’s had removed Schnatter’s image from marketing materials and ended its television campaigns featuring Schnatter, who often delivered the company’s slogan in commercials.

Papa Johns had previously pulled Schnatter’s image from marketing materials following his comments over the NFL’s handing of national anthem protests by players. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Schnatter also apologized after his use of the slur was made public, though he maintains that his words were taken out of context. Forbes, which broke news of the incident, had reported that Schnatter was “downplaying” his own comments concerning the NFL during the conference call, and at one point had claimed that Colonel Sanders used the n-word to refer to Black people.

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