Why designers shouldn't worry about Squarespace Logo
Squarespace's $10 logo service has caused outrage among the design community on Twitter. But, Tom Actman argues, good designers should not be worried...
I saw the Squarespace Logo hullabaloo explode yesterday, but quickly tried to distance myself from it. This type of tech news story has, in social media terms, a two day lifespan; something that quickly annoys the majority until the next witch hunt begins on someone or something else.
In this instance, I felt that anyone marginally threatened by an online logo generator was likely in the wrong game. That certainly wasn't me, so I was happy to move on.
But then I started thinking about the bigger problem here, and that unfortunately is designers themselves. Well respected creatives were openly expressing their disappointment of the news, as though Squarespace had let them down; as though Squarespace owed them something.
If you stand back to think about what Squarespace (and the Logo service) is, they're under no obligation to seek the approval of anyone – they can do what they like, and have done. And good on them for it, too.
The issue for many it seems is that this new service cheapens their own offering, or somewhat undermines their own skills. Neither are the case. McDonald's can comfortably exist alongside Michelin starred restaurant The Fat Duck. They both offer a culinary solution, but they're not in competition with each other, or importantly, trying to be.
Squarespace's Logo service isn't in competition with the work of good designers. It's merely a (pretty good) creative tool to help those visualise their own ideas.
Did Squarespace's online web development tool put thousands of digital agencies out of business? A resounding no. And the same too applies to Squarespace Logo. This service after all operates in the $10 logo design market; a space hopefully very few designers are working in.
We're in the time of the entrepreneur and everyone has a business idea. Some people have financial backing to bring their plans to life, and others don't. Squarespace Logo exists for those who likely need a quick solution, or don't yet have the budget to hire an experienced designer.
An important point that many seem to be missing is that this new service is actually getting design out in the open again. Branding is being talked about, better understood and appreciated.
I have two hopes for the outcome of this story (and people using Squarespace Logo):
1. The market gets saturated with bland and familiar logos, driving good clients towards great designers for better stand out.
2. Designers stop feeling insecure about those who are trying to move the industry forward.
I would ask that good designers continue to focus on doing brilliant work for brilliant clients, whilst at the same time better educating people in the value of design. There's proven ROI in what we do, so look forwards to developing a service people can't avoid using.
Clipart didn't threaten the future of talented designers and agencies, and nor will Squarespace Logo. The next time such a story floods into your timeline, ignore it and concentrate on being a better designer.
Tom Actman co-founded design agency Mat Dolphin in 2009. See matdolphin.com. With Phil Cook he wrote about the agency's experience of a low-cost logo design service in The £25 Logo, published on CR in 2012. Squarespace's Anthony Casalena introduces the new Logo product at blog.squarespace.com.
Yes it is yet another service that under cuts professional design. This one seems to expects the 'Client' to do the typography and colour selection.
No I'm not threatened by it and I did not watch all 4:23 but I ask the questions of who holds the copyright of the logo created? That may be of little interest when you create your $10 logo but may be of more interest when you try and sell you company in the future after you have built your brand, well maybe its not your brand.
Every service like this takes 10p off my charge.... it all adds up.
Logo design is far more than typing a tagline and making a picture. It is about identifying what a brand is about and being able to convey that message quickly. Clients that opt for a $10 logo aren't exactly ones you should be chasing down anyway.
Designers need to learn how to sell value in their design as well as they know how to create beauty and communicate a message. This is the wrong field to be in if you are worried about change.
I'm not worried by the software, it could be a great teaching tool and even at a stretch, a good platform for designers. That's an interesting thought. I wonder whether designers would be happy to use Squarespace Logo themselves to create very quick and simple logos at a knock down price?
Anyway, my qualm wouldn't be about the software, what it does, how much it charges, whether it under values our industry etc. My concern – and I'm aware that this is an assumption, but a probable one if 99designs was anything to go by – is that there will be far more poor logos produced which makes me think that anything which isn't a step towards an increase in better design for society is either us pointlessly standing still or taking a step back.
That maybe naive of me and I'm sure you could argue that it would in actual fact make more work for designers, and as you say, broaden the discussion of branding, but there is plenty of work to go around without anyone producing anymore mediocre logos.
This is only my opinion and I too say good luck to them. Not much will change.
BTW love the £25 99designs logo experiment. I did something similar and tested how many times it would take me win a contests as a professional designer. It took 10, which I hope isn't an accurate interpretation of my design skills ;).
Whilst it's acceptable and obvious that websites like this will come and go they are still a real pain as a designer. The simple factor is why pay someone for something you can do yourself. Websites like this give people the idea that they themselves can design a logo so why pay the designer. It simply take money out of my pocket as clients wonder why they are paying so much when they can do it themselves for a tenner. It is an issue for the small designers without the varied client basis to call their own. Cheap prices are how you start off and look appealing to other small clients that you would hope evolve into your big clients. Without this initial interaction it is simply business lost.
So you only ever get a .png, no vector version? Rip off...
I only hope this service empowers designers. As the article states, McDonalds and The Fat Duck happily co-exist, even though they're technically competitors. This service is cheap, and cheap for a reason. If you're after a quality meal get a good graphic designer on board to help with your branding.
I'm delighted by this! Now when someone asks me to create a logo for their dad's house cleaning service (he'll pay you once he's making money!) or for their daughter's brownie troop's dog biscuit business (you can put it on your resume!), I will just point them to Squarespace Logo and they can make their own. Seriously though, it's perfect for scenarios where someone needs a quick and dirty logo and has no funds to pay for design services. AND let them see how not easy logo design is!
While it's not a new service or offer, and it's frustrating, if anything it is a good thing, potentially keeping the shit clients away, making the logo bigger themselves... This is an even more elaborate version from the guys behind Stockbyte, which they built from nothing and ended up selling it to Getty Images...
it is still ok if super chefs comment on the new, really unhealthy burger of a fastfood chain. that does not make them bad chefs, they just care about good food.
It's like give a home plastic surgery kit to an aging beauty queen...heaven help us all.
I am a brillant designer with great clients and am not worried for myself.
But I feel a bit depressed when I think a bit further about what this service (or McDonald’s) tells us about the world we live in.
Web designers are already used to these kind of 'threats'. 90% of clients will want a bespoke logo and the price point and media coverage (online) of this will alienate them from the service - many will not want to be associated with it however small.
Ironically the type of the clients who may want to use this service will not appreciate the relatively tasteful / contemporary tools available - bad clients generally want an ugly logo from my experience!
Well if nothing else it's good to see this hasn't dented Loîc's confidence.
Design politics aside, kudos to Squarespace's UI team – the application looks really nice, intuitive and easy to use. And there's always been someone the client knows who'll do a generic job for a tenner – doesn't matter if it's Squarespace or someone's niece at college who's a bit arty.
Fully agree Tom. This would have passed us by if it wasn't for the over reaction on Twitter. Not the first online tool to create a logo, and certainly won't be the last.
Not everyone needs a brand strategy or any brand essence to sell their dog walking service.
I echo a few comments that I can now direct some people to this site who need something basic, the chances of any future client turning to this software than approach me is zero as I don't offer type within a circle solutions in 5 minutes.
So everyone wins.
This passive aggressive nonsense (You're not happy with this? You must be a REALLY shit designer. Lucky for me I'm in a different league to you) is the design equivalent of a willy waving contest.
I agree with Tim here, this whole article is quite condescending. Have you actually tried using the service? It's potentially a pretty powerful tool in the right hands. My colleagues and I had a play yesterday and came up with some humorous knock-offs amongst other ideas.
What we found interesting was, if two of us worked with the same company name, the logo's produced by the end were almost identical. Which leads me to believe that, because a few of the shapes and icons look nicer than others, people will use this small proportion almost exclusively. This could result in a host of companies with near identical logos.
Having played with it I can see designers using this as a logo-making tool. That could potentially impact freelancers and companies working with lower budget clients.
This appears to be a great tool for people who can't afford designers, are starting up a new business and recognise the need for a visual identity. It looks straight forward to use and empowers people (for good or bad).
If your job is purely logo design and your worried about these types of developments perhaps you should consider broadening out your skills / remit.
Isn't the whole point of Squarespace to enable the wider public to publish their own content in the first place?
It allows people to have a good looking website without paying a web designer. It allows you to publish a website online and update it without having to pay a coder. It allows you to have a domain name without having to go through a separate domain broker.
Now all of a sudden it allows you to create a 'logo' without having to pay a graphic designer and people are suddenly all up in arms about it?
If you're upset with losing out on the sort of business this new function will 'drum up' then you should really take a long hard look at yourself and question what kind of design you're producing if you feel you're in the same bracket as this function.
I'm a designer, and I use squarespace as a way to have a decent looking folio site, without having to rope in favours off coders and that I can quickly and easily update. If I want to re-design I don't need to spend days/weeks of my spare time that I don't have figuring out a new look and feel. I simply go browsing and clicking.
My page won't win any design awards, I don't want it to... it's cheap, functional and easy to use - it's does the job I require it to do.
If people want a website, logo, printing service for the same reasons, then great! it means we don't waste our time doing 'favours' for these so called 'clients'.
They can make the logo as big as they f***ing want now.
I'm confident that although some will make use of services like this, many business owners and individuals in need of a logo design will prefer to seek the advice of a professional.
PLEASE, CAN YOU MAKE THE FONT SMALLER?
An interesting statement on their website...
"UPDATE: We've seen a number of comments online about Squarespace Logo being positioned as a replacement for professional designers. Squarespace Logo is a basic tool for individuals and small businesses with limited resources to create a simple identity for themselves. It is not a replacement for the brand identity a professional designer can craft and deserves to be compensated for. We expect Logo, much like Squarespace itself, to drive more people to appreciate the importance of design, leading to increased demand for professional creative services. Similarly, the fees generated by Squarespace Logo are used in part to compensate the graphic designers who contribute their work to The Noun Project."
yuup......... that looks like a $10 logo
It's amazing! it will keep away those ignorant clients that think a $10 logo is equal or better than my work, let it be.
It's natural selection, I'm pro stuff like this.
Great if it gives people choice.
Clients, customers, shareholders and employees won't be fooled....
I do believe to a point that everybody is a designer but at the same time a designer with education / industry experience will obviously do a better job.
There will only be more and more of these types of design services in the future so you just have to make sure you offer more than what these services can which is a 'unique' design service.
Shapes and text thrown together in five minutes should not make any designer feel less about what they can offer.
Great im in the website building busy not logo design now my customers can design their own logo and send it to me when I create a website for them, good stuff.
Not worth the drama. Because people without budget wouldnt have considered a designer before this ...
As a designer, I'm about as threatened by this logo service as I am by clip art!
And as a front end developer, I can tell you I have already had one offer from a client to hire me to - develop their squarespace site!
Well said John K. in my opinion, I think the lifespan of Squarespace logo will be short.
We all know that you get what you pay for in life but these solution sites ARE really harming the industry. If you are an established designer with a full client list of course you have no worries. But spare a thought for someone like me who is trying to start a design business and every enquiry is based around how cheap i can do it for them. It is really difficult to try and educate the idiots who don't want to pay more than £20 for a logo.
Services like this will always be around, making it easier and cheaper for your average joe to make a presence, however, even with popularity of free/cheap web design tools like wix, my business hasnt suffered, most people just dont have the time or the inclination, plus you are always going to get a better job by someone who designs day in day out, they just know more and can get it done quicker and often better.
In my experience, clients who purchase things like this all run into trouble later when they want other things/modifications and of course they don't get a vector - clients don't know what they are, haha. Buyer beware.
I remember web developers getting upset when Wordpress and Squarespace first appeared. Both have ended up being really useful tools to me as a web developer when I need to work for a client who has a really tight budget and needs a website they can edit themselves. I've been able to keep clents who I would previously had to turn down. People seem to have forgotten that the employees of Squarespace include quite a number of graphic designers who will benefit from the extra income generated by this project, people are reacting as if it's been invented by some massive corporate who's out to steal ther work with their cheap alternative. Chill out!!
It's great these low-cost services exist—it serves THAT segment of the market. Wheat from the chaff sort of thing. The sort of client who'd use those services wouldn't approach a design professional for numerous reasons, such as cost, micro management or whatever…
It tidies up and sorts out the marketplace. Better design for better clients.
I totally agree. There is a need for this type of service in gtr design market. However for all design firms out there doing Logo Design services we all should try to balance affordability without sacrificing quality for our clients.
Dont get me wring the prices are very cheap however on the flip side some firms are the extreme opposite being very expensive
The type of clients who will be interested in this are not the type of clients I want for myself anyways. If it keeps someone from making their own 'logo' from word art, then I'm all for it.
Logo style is much quite typewriting a tagline and creating an image. it's regarding distinguishing what a complete is regarding and having the ability to convey that message quickly. shoppers that decide on a $10 emblem are not specifically ones you ought to be chasing down anyway.
I would like to share an amazing logo designers portfolio: http://bleepingtech.imgur.com (just an image uploading site). She designed my logo , business card and social media covers. Lovely girl. Get in touch with her at trilmarose(@)gmail (dot)com
I agree, though I would've felt differently after I graduated and was more junior.
Now I'm actually glad it's there. I'm looking forward to fobbing off any requests from acquaintances in exchange for 'exposure'.
If anything services like these help the design industry convey its status as a profession. It makes it more likely for a designer to be chosen for their skills, experience and abilities not because they have access to a bit of professional software. I see it similar to photography where now that high quality cameras are accessibly priced mass market products, people better understand that it takes more than a camera to take a well crafted photo.
Time has passed, and amazingly, logo designers are still generating business. The Squarespace is fine for businesses that are just starting out, but for businesses that are serious about looking professional, or ready to level up, hiring a professional designer will always be the sensible choice.
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