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.