Goods System

OpenTable

Services

Branding ❋ Design systems ❋ Illustration ❋ SWAG

Team

Julia Borghini ❋ Elizabeth Freeman ❋ Alyson Lund ❋ Danae Wenig

Project

The restaurant side of OpenTable’s business deserved a SWAG refresh that would simplify the design process for marketing partners through a modular design system.

The challenge

Our Goods and SWAG were in desperate need of a revamp. The items we had when I started had a few problems: they weren't on brand (the logo was being used poorly, for instance), they didn't have a strong design aesthetic, and the items we were producing were low quality and easily tossed in the garbage.

Objectives

Inclusivity

This work applies to multiple markets, including folks who are brand new to OpenTable.

Authenticity

Our booth at any given event will be the one everyone floods to for cool SWAG. Our restaurant partners should feel pampered through relevant, useful goods.

Deliciousness

Focus on high quality items that are made to last. Everything should serve a purpose and have a decent lifespan

Modular design system

Because we had so many items to design, not only for the first offering, but also in the future, I decided to approach the problem using a modular illustrative design system. This solved a couple of problems for us. Creating a modular design system of illustrations enabled us to target more specific markets and engage with users on a more personal level.

Design is not a block

Often, it takes the brand team some time to ramp up on an event, and with the need for new goods every week, it was important to me that I create a system that allowed us to deliver faster, and with more beautiful results.

Extend agency

Giving our audience an opportunity to make choices about what SWAG they want to take home (and thus, what symbolizes them) makes them an active participant in the process.

Avoid visual fatigue

By offering a modular system, we won’t have to keep redesigning the wheel when we go to new events where we may encounter similar users more than once. We mitigate visual fatigue from the core of the system.

Content inspiration

This lead me to start looking at some of the best restaurants on OpenTable to find inspiration that would be specific, and nationally comprehensive. Each of them has an emphasis on fresh food.

​From there, I scoured their menus for ingredients and dishes that best represented these restaurants and showcased OpenTable’s diversity.

Fresh Hawaiian
Saucy Italian
Spicy Mexican

2020 Collection

While we mocked up a significantly large batch of items, this is the paired down, final selection of items to be released for our 2020 collection. The idea being that we focus on these phrases, items, and restaurants for 2020, and then choose a new set for 2021, as well as a new color palette. Keep things fresh, without redesigning the wheel. This is only a portion of what we produced.

Production

No project is complete without production work. Once all the items were finished, I created a folder for templates from out printer, as a reference for future items, as well as a folder with ready for print item files. As OpenTable is an international company, it is important teams in other offices can pull item files to send to local printers.

Custom bandana series

Variety is the spice of life! While having these beautiful items is great for teams to order for sales, events, and internal use, often our events team wants to create something custom for a particular event, especially since we want to co-brand with partners. I knew this going in, which is why the system flexes to accommodate for a variety of use cases, from lightly to highly customized.

Eater Young Guns; This bandana for Eater Young Guns was being designed while I was designing the overall system. The event had a strong color palette, so we wanted to incorporate that, plus their logo. Conceptually, each item represents a specific young chef receiving an award at the event - with each item being tied back to their specialty (eg. wine, pastry, seafood, etc). Originally, we wanted to put their names alongside the items, but that was nixed by Eater. The phrase 'Stay Cool' relates back to the event theme, which was yearbook. We used this type styling and palette around the event.
These bandanas were so popular that the events team ran out at the end. Our event coordinator said this was the most successful activation she'd had at an event, and that this would be her item going forward for all consumer-facing events. Big win for our teams.
Denver Food and Wine; This event didn't have a strong brand or theme, so we decided to pull colors from the event website. Instead of creating new items or a new layout, we used one of the bandana designs, and added the co-branding style. Similar to the other event, they ran out!
Chefs for Farmers; Another example of a brandless event. This event however, had a strong message - locality. I created a slogan and swapped in items from the library that best represented locally grown American food. Because it was set in Texas, we decided to swap black for blue for a more patriotic note.
Cherry Bombe; Contrastingly, Cherry Bombe has a strong brand that is present at all its events. We worked with them to determine the copy, content, and color palette. This branding was then applied throughout our space within the event.

Feast Portland

On top of two bandanas and some other SWAG, we also delivered a variety of digital assets in the same style for the event. Typically, we'd have to come up with an original idea and it would have taken a lot of time. Now, with the modular, flexible system, we reused assets and made something cohesive and beautiful.

Feast Portland (Smoked); OpenTable had a booth at a campfire themed consumer-facing event called Smoked. We had a little extra time, so we produced highly customized bandanas that used Feast's color palette and theme. I also drafted new copy that felt on brand for us, but related back to Feast.
Feast Portland; Feast also had a brunch for chefs, so we designed this bandana, plus a mug. Chefs were then able to use their bandanas all day while cooking which was a win for them and for us! Here, we used a slogan from our main set, but added in some new items like bacon and butter.

Success of the project

A couple themes came out of this project which showed the power of creating a system rather than one-off designs.

Efficiency

We increased our speed to market which allowed us to be more reactive for last minute events. We reduced design time which freed our team up to focus on more exciting work. We reduced QA and feedback by creating a system that everyone already liked. We reduced the number of errors when it came to print because we were able to reuse components which meant we could spend less money on reprinting.

Consistency

We made our swag a champion product for the brand by creating consistency in visual style and end product. We reduced complaints from marketing that we weren't providing assets quickly enough.

Relief

As a result of this project, our designers were happier because we could focus on making the work we cared about in a more environmental way. I personally felt more job satisfaction because I was pleasing the marketing team. We created more innovated products because we could spend more time on sourcing and ideating and less on designing and redesigning.

Overall

This SWAG project was, not only a great chance for the brand team to flex creatively, but also gave us big wins on the business side. Our items at events drove more conversions than previously seen at an event for OpenTable. We produced items that don't harm the planet as much or end up in the trash. We are being more inclusive about how we represent our restaurants, and we are actively mitigating visual fatigue. Our partners are happier, as are our customers. Plus, we are all ready for the 2021 collection next year.

Bonnie Kate did amazing work on our SWAG at OpenTable. As an event organizer, it was so great to work with BK who was able to create an entire system of swag designs that we could use at consumer events, b2b events, and trade shows. She did a great job of creating designs we could easily apply across multiple products!

Katie Plack, Senior Marketing Specialist - Events & Influencers, OpenTable