Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's not the design that's the problem - it's the content

Whenever companies, corporations or political parties are in trouble they change something about their image - Pepsi did it, the BBC did it, Blair's New Labour did it and, yes, Cameron's Conservatives did it. However, for it to work. the design change is only the first stage of brand de-contamination and is more often that not followed by substantive change in the organisation.

LibDem Voice - the piss-poor equivalent of ConservativeHome.Com - has recently changed its look. I happen to think the new site is as bad as the old one, but never mind. It's new. It looks slightly slicker and more professional, I grant you, but when you read it, you'll soon notice that it's the same old content. Attacks on the Conservatives, a laugh at Labour and some good old solid grovelling to the leadership for their own side.

CH.Com is well respected because its written by Conservatives for Conservatives. It tackles issues head-on. It's honest about itself and the party. It takes a critical friend stance and does so well. It only mentions the other side when major stories break and never goes scrabbling around for an unknown backbench councillor to accidently make a spelling mistake on a leaflet. It has now replaced newspapers for many of us because it covers all the major stories so well and even breaks the news. It is quite rightly the leader in its field. It is, in fact, everything LDV isn't.

So I do hope that the image change for LDV will now herald the substantive change it requires. Will the new site feature more real news? Will it be informative and honest about the LibDems? Or will it continue to be the party's online attack dog? Don't hold your breath, but if it really wants to change and be more successful it ought to look more than just skin deep.

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