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Democrats, the Brand

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, September 15 2010

The Democratic National Committee's new media team is making the case that the new Democrats.org is more than just a new website. Or is it the Democrats' new media team? They'd like you to think about it as the latter, or at least, they see the new "D" logo they unveiled today as symbolic of a branded identity that reflects the way normal left-leaning Americans see themselves: not as supporters of the Democratic National Committee headquartered on Capitol Hill, or some other strange formulation. Simply, rather, as "Democrats."

"It's not just about the DNC anymore," said DNC new media director Natalie Foster on a call just now. "It's about the Democratic Party."

In a way, it echoes some of the thinking about the tea party movement we talked about earlier today, as more of an idea, an identity, a network than as a formalized party structure. It's an ambitious notion embodied in the new bare-bones logo; Foster said, "The idea is that this could become that something that any kid could draw in chalk in front of their house, that any college kid could riff on."

And it's an approach that DNC staffers see as being reflected in the rebuilding of Democrats.org. The site, for instance, automatically judges where in the U.S. you are (using, if all goes well, your computer's IP address) and then populates your homepage with local candidates. Their pages are populated with information on local events, pulled from both the collection of supporter-created events on MyBarackObama and the DNC's Party Builder system, and visitors are given the opportunity to give a Facebook thumb's up to, say, New York Senator Chuck Schumer right from the Democrats.org site. Other nods to integrated network building: you can ID yourself on the site using your MyBO login, your Democrats.org profile, or your Facebook account, which sets you up to join groups (Rural Americans, LGBT Community) with a click or two.

It's tempting to be cynical about the magical effects of a new logo (and t-shirts!) with mid-term elections just two months away. But DNC staffers see today's overhaul as part of a needed long-term reorientation of the relationship between the Democratic Party and the Democrats who make up the party. "It's the next generation of the 50 state strategy," said Foster. "It's about building a networked community of Democrats."

(Added design note: For you typography geeks, god love ya, that slightly whimsical font used throughout the new Democrats site is Neutraface Slab.)

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