Career CoachingPersonal brand

3 Things We Can Learn From Papa John’s About Branding

Since the most recent story broke, I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about the latest Papa John’s scandal. No need to share the gory and extremely offensive details, I’m sure you’ve all heard about it by now.

If you haven’t – Google it.

Consumers have been rushing to delete the phone number for their local Papa John’s location and remove the app from their phones. For the brand, this is a PR nightmare. As a career coach and personal branding expert, this made me think about what is happening to the Papa John’s brand and what lessons we can all learn from this. While there are lots to consider here, especially given the fact that this isn’t the first time the brand has been in trouble recently, I chose 3.


  1. Be careful what you put out there (unless of course, being careless is a part of your brand)

When shaping or reshaping your brand, it’s important to watch what you put out there. Remember that there are always eyes watching and ears listening. Remember that it’s easy for things to be misunderstood and misused so think BEFORE you speak, type or hit those ‘Like’ and/or ‘Share’ buttons. This is important for large public companies and those of you building your personal brands.

Think about the way you manage your interactions with colleagues, business partners, customers, your boss, etc. Maybe jumping to agree with a particular point of view, sharing that joke or using that particular term isn’t the best idea. Think about the image you’re putting out there. What does all of this say about you? What does it lead others to say or think about you? What do you share on social media?

What you put out there directly shapes your brand so be careful. Make sure you’re making the right impression.


  1. Learn from your mistakes

Nobody’s perfect and even our most beloved people make mistakes. The best thing you can do when you slip up is learn from it. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time the Papa John’s brand did something that left a bad taste in their customer’s mouths. This is perhaps what makes this second infraction sting all the more. It leaves the public wondering if they learned from their least mistake. Was that reaction from the public not enough of a wakeup call? Why reopen the same wound?

Look, everyone makes mistakes but if you can show that you’ve learned from your mistakes, the public is ready to forgive. We’ve seen this in the lives of some of our favorite celebrities. We’ve also seen how bad it can be when there are multiple slip-ups. When you have a misstep, apologize immediately. Hold yourself accountable, then show that you’ve learned from your experiences. The same goes for you when developing your personal brand. If you made a mistake (especially if it was public) take the necessary steps to avoid falling into the same trap again. Get help from a professional if you need to. A professional can help assess how damaging the infraction was and what steps you can take to bounce back and avoid future hiccups. Keep in mind that while an expert can HELP, you’re the one that has to do the repenting. Learn from your mistakes lest you fall to a place you can’t bounce back from.


  1. Don’t be afraid to make to make the difficult choice

Sometimes when a huge mistake is made, it’s up to those in power to make the difficult choice. I came across an article this morning saying that Papa John’s wants to remove their CEO and spokesman. They also want him to cease from speaking about the brand publicly. I’m sure this wasn’t an easy step for their board to take but it may be the best option right now. This is not a new idea. Companies have done this before. If a CEO or key spokesperson continues to misrepresent the brand, they may have to be removed or banned from publicly speaking on the brands behalf. Sometimes a brand will change its name, logo or representative to show the public that they’ve turned over a new leaf.

For you, you may need to sever ties with a longtime business partner or collaborator. You may have to change employers or drop a major client. These decisions are huge. They aren’t meant to be easy but they are sometimes necessary if you’re going to save your brand.


Pamela Shand is a Certified Resume Writer, Career Coach, Personal Branding expert and Recruitment Strategist. She’s an award winning contributor that’s been featured in Forbes, Glassdoor, The Ladders, SHRM and CareerBuilder among others. As CEO and Founder of Offer Stage Consulting she works with job seekers, employers and schools in need of career readiness strategies for their students.

Learn more at The Offer Stage | Follow us on Twitter | @offerstage on Instagram | Like us on Facebook

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