"Notice anything different?"
That's the inaugural message on the new Republican National Committee website that launched this morning, and by appearances this isn't your father's RNC.
The new site, introduced on screen by a digital recording of Chairman Michael Steele, is touted as a "forward-looking, open-platform for the party of new ideas," utilizing a variety of web applications: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and an in-house network, OurGOP. Embracing Web 2.0 and user-submitted content, the site provides Republican activists a space to organize, network, blog and fundraise.
The new look, a departure from traditional political sites, reflects the RNC's use of firms that have never worked with political clients. And that may explain the RNC's misteps. Featuring a red background with gold stars, the web design looks derivative of the Chinese, not American, flag.
The web banner also features a rotating supply of GOP Faces, and as many bloggers have pointed out to their own amusement, the RNC, under controversial chairman Michael Steele, represents itself as a very diverse party.
The site has already experienced several hiccups during its short lifespan. A link directing visitors to the "Future Leaders" section resulted in a 404 error message. The NY Daily News discovered the password, email and administration functions for the entire site.
Jokes aside, there is no reason the GOP should not market itself as a big tent party. It's up to voters to decide if the rest of the brand's message is in line with the visual. Their web presence illustates an attempt to woo a younger demographic. To succeed, their messaging, and not just site design, will have to shift.