At OpenTable, the restaurants we work with are our biggest inspirations — from their hospitality and energy to they way they delight diners, night after night. It was time for our brand to reflect our passion for what can happen around the restaurant table.
In March we revealed a new OpenTable logo, color palette, voice and type — and most importantly, a new brand story that celebrates the memorable moments and experiences that a restaurant brings to life. Our team created this video to highlight the experiences that give us purpose and bring joy to our work.
“The old OpenTable brand wasn’t ever clearly defined; there was no clear brand promise other than providing restaurant reservations, which was entirely transactional with our users,” says Kate VandenBerghe, OpenTable’s Lead Brand Experience Designer, who led us through the rebrand. “Within OpenTable, we’ve been doing some great work over the past few years to define who we are and where we want to go: We’re building new experiences to enhance the dining experience, and we’re innovating in the restaurant space. But we hadn’t taken the opportunity to signal this shift to people outside of OpenTable.”
The team started out by figuring out what makes OpenTable unique: our internal culture, our products, our audience. Then came the process of exploring, defining, and refining. We explored areas such as illustrations, ads, emails and other digital touch points and experimented with new treatments. At the same time, we started standardizing the existing brand as much as we could — people within the company began to use a single typeface for communication.
We’ve updated and refined almost every one of our core experiences, but updating the brand was different. The brand is not a single touch point, like an app. It’s an expression of the company, people and promise of what we aim to achieve. When done right, it impacts almost every aspect of the service that we offer to our customers.
As restaurant owners and operators, you understand better than anyone the power of branding and how all of these details can change the way guests perceive and interact with you. So now that you know the “why,” we want to share the “how” behind the new OpenTable: how our new visuals, design and tone reflect our love of restaurants and dining.
In the video and our other communications to diners, you’ll see beautiful, natural images that celebrate the people who make restaurants successful: servers, chefs and guests who love the food you serve. You won’t see formal photos of perfectly plated dishes. We know it’s the people and their shared experiences that make dining special, and we always want to pay tribute to them first.
“Our photography captures the feeling of dining out: It’s not overly staged or too perfect,” says Kate. “We want our photography to feel reminiscent of experiences you’ve had before, something that is attainable and real. A foodie friend of mine once told me every meal is like a performance; it’s something that can never be exactly replicated. It’s something that should be individually celebrated and savored in the moment.”
In our photography, you may also recognize the restaurants that make up the OpenTable network. We’ve held all of our photo and video shoots around the tables and in the kitchens of some of our favorite OpenTable restaurants: San Francisco’s Foreign Cinema, Clerkenwell’s Modern Pantry, and Oakland’s Pizzaiolo, to name a few. What better way to show what we stand for?
Voice & Tone
To speak to our diners and restaurants, we’ve created new brand pillars, each inspired by — you guessed it — restaurants. We aim to be:
Warm & Welcoming. Like a welcoming host, OpenTable should be gracious and direct so our audience feels guided and supported in their search for the perfect table.
Inspiring & Reliable. A great server knows every detail of a menu and how to communicate that to a diner. A seasoned chef turns out the same superb dishes every night, never faltering in commitment to quality. Similarly, our brand should be knowledgeable, credible and consistent.
Fresh & Current. Whether a restaurant just opened its doors or has been around for decades, the most successful ones know how to stay relevant in an ever-changing landscape and how to adapt to new guests and markets. We’ll communicate in a way that feels modern and global — with an occasional element of surprise.
Finally, our logo, which symbolizes the connection we forge between diners and restaurants.
“The new logo embodies what OpenTable does best: We connect people, restaurants, experiences,” says Kate. “I personally love that we are a technology that actually helps people get away from the screen and spend more time connecting to people around them in a real way. Our new brand reflects those types of opportunities for connection, whether it’s connecting diners to a restaurant, restaurants to their larger communities, or a group of friends around a table. The scale of the connection changes, but the nature of it does not.”
Our new logotype echoes some of the core pillars of the OpenTable brand. It’s warm and welcoming, thanks to details like rounded letterform terminals (not too soft, not too sharp), and the geometry pairs well with our circular mark (the counter of the O is a perfect circle and the same scale as our dot). The ligature of the L echoes handwriting, which ties back to the hand-crafted quality of a great meal.
It’s a new era at OpenTable, where our purpose is to create technology that fuels extraordinary experiences. Our goal will be to make sure we’re continuing to share diverse stories in a way that is authentic and honest and that inspires people to call up their friends and loved ones and connect over a great meal.