January 23, 2014

Squarespace Logo

Squarespace released a tool yesterday called Squarespace Logo, which gives the layman the ability to layout their own custom logo for a relatively tiny fee ($10). This, of course, was met with a fair amount of resistance and digital eye-rolling from the web design community—a reaction that is as common as it is unsettling. The overarching theme in the nay-saying is that this is a threat to professional logo designers and the craft as a whole. Simply put…

People are worried that they will lose money because potential clients will choose to build their own logo and pay $10, rather than hire a designer to create one for them at a much higher cost, likely hundreds or thousands of dollars.

I think we can all fully understand the desire for professional and financial security, but this notion seems extremely misguided. There is a market for high-end custom furniture despite the fact that bargain-basement options are readily available at every Wal-Mart. There are plenty of wildly successful designer fashion companies even though people can purchase generic clothes at any department store. So on and so forth. While this may not always be the case, it tends to be true with aesthetics and things with a visual component. There are a lot of people in this world with a lot of different tastes, varying budgets and unique needs—certainly enough to warrant both a logo creation tool and highly-skilled professionals that offer a more tailored service.

A few random thoughts on the situation:

1. While I’m not surprised by the knee-jerk reactions that we’ve seen from fellow designers, I am disappointed by some of the snark tossed around by some more high-profile individuals. In this world where everyone forms an opinion after merely reading a headline, a tweet by a trusted colleague or even role model certainly holds more weight and can quickly add fuel to a fire.

2. There is a certain type of person that simply will not pay for a premium service. Ever. For any reason. We designers can talk to these people and show statistics and try to educate them until we are blue in the face, but they are just not the ideal market for a service such as custom branding. In short, the people who will use this service are not potential clients. They are the ones we turn away. The ones we regret working with. I wonder how many designers complaining about Squarespace Logo on Twitter also complain about their awful clients. Quite a bit, I’d imagine.

3. There have been services and tools like Squarespace Logo around for years (see LogoYes, etc.). The issue now is that Squarespace has done it extremely well and I think that scares some people. The fact that so many are upset quite possibly proves that the product is solid.

4. I think we can see a rift between people who publish/ship things and those who don’t when a controversy like this springs up. Launching something takes so much effort and is so incredibly difficult, that I don’t think that people who share in those struggles could throw stones so easily.

5. Squarespace has always been applauded for championing the importance of design. This should be no different—we’ll likely see less of these.

6. Not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, but should chefs at 4-star restaurants get upset when stuff like this becomes available? You get the point. If you’re a designer, pitch your expertise, your experience and offer a better solution. You have nothing to worry about.