Now the usual disclaimer: I am not a product reviewer or endorser. I am using publicly available news to highlight product management principles.

After several car accidents, Domino’s pizza could no longer guarantee timely pizza delivery. Domino’s had to refocus on reformulating their product and introduce a “please give us another try” campaign. A little garlic powder in pizza crust and a fresh salad has convinced customers that their pizza is worth the wait. As a side note, I do love their salad packaging.

When your brand focuses on a personality, crisis management becomes more complicated. Subway had Jared. Subway quickly cut all ties with Jared. Subway’s original draw was the smell of freshly baked bread, the lovely shredded lettuce, multiple topping choices and yummy cookies. Subway has a new logo but still working on the marketing message.

What do you do when the brand and company name is a personality in crisis? What a dilemma for Papa John’s. The company is scrubbing all packaging, ads, and mention of John Schnatter. If the company is to survive, Papa John’s has to get John Schnatter out of the press. As long as he stays in the news, the rebranding activities will not be successful.

Here are a few things Product Managers and Marketers need to consider when rebranding after a crisis (not an exhaustive list):
1. Voice of the Customer research– What do they like about the product, company? How do you compare to the competition?
2. Unique Product Differentiator – The cheapest, the freshest, unique?
3. Marketing Plan – How will you reach and convince customers to come back?
4. New Name/New Logo – I am sure this debate is ongoing. If sales continue its current decline, my vote is for a clean break.

I am looking forward to the new ad campaign – New CEO 1) expressing the values of the company, 2) introducing the new name/new logo, 3) committing to being America’s pizza company with a lovely video montage, and 4) promoting the NFL opening day pizza specials.

Papa John’s franchise owners are anxiously waiting.