Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jon Huntsman - Designing A Candidacy

Former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman has by far and away the most innovative web design among those seeking the 2012 Republican nomination. His site is immediately engaging and inviting, unlike the other campaigns which all seem to rely on the same formulaic Internet template. Most candidates are using their sites as de facto components, but Huntsman (like Obama in 2008) seems to be aiming for a competitive advantage in his web presence.
Source: Jon Huntsman For President
Huntsman appears to branding the “H” much like President Obama established a quick identity with the letter “O” (or like President Bush assumed an unintended partnership with the “W”). Huntsman’s website features the “Daily HBlog,” sells “H Goods,” and urges visitors to “Become Gen. H.” He also seems intentionally to be offering separate graphic messages for separate audiences. For example, his official bumper sticker (above) strikes a drastically different tone from his website banner (below).
Source: Jon Huntsman For President
The web logo is the more “designerly” emblem, invoking a similar ocean concept of President Obama’s design but adding an ethereal wave image. Notable is the bold, strikingly disjointed letter “H,” with the floating middle bar. The lettering strives for a modern aesthetic, even as its blocked, corporate sans serif seems more appropriately stitched on a hotel pillow.

The red coding on his bumper sticker conjures “red state” imagery, while the starkness of the austere design signals a practical, no-nonsense approach. Huntsman seems uneager to brand himself as a “Republican” or a “Democrat” and instead wants to carve a new space in political messaging. His graphics are noteworthy in their unorthodox messaging – they feature no readily apparently American flag or patriotic iconography, and they introduce unfamiliar motifs that could resonate as original or could alienate him from the rank-and-file Republicans. He does mention his desired office, “President,” but not as a campaigning “for” it. He also declines to share a slogan, leaving his overall theme up to the voters to decode.

Finally, Jon Huntsman faces a potential problem in competing with the business brand of his father’s billion-dollar Huntsman Corporation, which has already claimed many of the most obvious name-related urls and patriotic designs. In fact, a Google image search yields a variety of results in logos – few of which relate to the son’s presidential campaign.

Check out our other posts about design and education in the 2012 election.

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