Leveraging the brand of a person: Papa John

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

13 October 2011

You are tied to that person for good, bad or indifferent

I was watching television last night, when, as it seems to run with more than just some regularity, a Papa John’s commercial came on. This blog post could be about the permissions of the Papa John’s brand and how Papa John’s long running “Better ingredients, better pizza” might not be believable.

“Personalities, on the other hand, are very easy to like or dislike, simply at face value.”

But let’s talk about Papa John himself. I am sure most of you already know very well whom I am talking about because Papa John includes him in just about every sliver of its marketing.Papa John

One of problems with this is whether the personality is relevant to the audience. The question you must ask is whether excessive visibility of a company’s founder creates preference or causes a customer to switch? And talk about commit to that strategy. Go to papajohns.com and John is there on the home page, the special offers page and the view menu page.

There are some corporate personalities that can be equity markers. Steve Jobs was an equity marker for Apple but he never jeopardized the brand by confusing the value of the two as the same.

To build brand equity, a company has to understand the highest emotional intensity in the market and, through messaging and action, control that intensity. If messaging exists to be self-serving, even if you understand the highest intensity, the message will be soft and ineffectual.

The most important thing to remember is, if your brand is about an intensity that exists in the market, that intensity is very easy for consumers to agree with. Personalities, on the other hand, are very easy to like or dislike, simply at face value. Trying to turn a corporate figure into an equity marker can be a dangerous game to play.


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