Does Squarespace’s DIY Logo Tool Promote Bad Design?
Squarespace Logo, the newest tool from Squarespace, has a simple goal: Demystify the design and creation process so non-designers can turn their ideas into glossy realities without spending too much time or money doing so.
Launched last week, Logo is the NYC-based company’s newest offering in its line of online content-creation tools, and it lets you creates a customized logo in no time flat, with zero design experience. It’s very simple. The gist is this: Load the web app, type your or your brand’s name into the text field, add one of the 7,000-plus icons supplied by Noun Project, and voila! For $10, you’ve got yourself a high-res logo that you can slap on a business card, t-shirt, webpage or whatever else.
It’s a slick little tool that will come in handy for a lot of people who know little (or, sadly, care little) about the nuances of professional logo design. And yet, post-launch, professional designers across the web erupted, incensed by Squarespace’s mission of making a design tool accessible to the masses. Some said the tool minimizes the hard work that goes into logo design. Others claimed this would put green designers and freelancers out of business. And a certain contingent just thought the logos are ugly.
It’s true that quality logo design is not easy. Good logos can express, in pure visual form, who a company is. That’s a powerful thing. The best of these become iconic in their own right. But the people who will use Squarespace’s tool are not looking for that kind of brand identity. In fact, they’re probably the type of people who wouldn’t have even thought to hire a professional graphic designer in the first place.
A sample logo made with the new app.
Anthony Casalena, Squarespace’s CEO and founder, describes the service as a stepping stone, or a way for people who might be marginally interested in design, to dabble without having to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars for a logo. All the better, in his opinion, that they can do it themselves. “I don’t see established designers having much of a use for a tool like Squarespace Logo. They’re not the target for this tool,” he explains. “They’re naturally going to be much more sophisticated in their approach to a brand identity. We hope that we’ve given a better option for people who don’t have access to professional design resources.”
Will this put professional designers out of business? Nah. True craftsmanship can’t be faked, and it also can’t be achieved with the constraints that Squarespace Logo has anyway. The tool is like a set of training wheels; the simple icons, the option for black and white printing, the pre-determined layouts (that can be tweaked to an extent). Squarespace makes it easy for a complete novice to create something that’s at least passably professional.
Will this put professional designers out of business? Nah.
“We’re providing a tool based on a need we observed, and it’s up to everyone to decide what to do with it,” says Casalena. “Not everyone will use the tool to create something beautiful, just as not everyone uses Adobe Illustrator to create great images, or Microsoft Word to create great essays. With Logo, they at least have a shot at something beyond a line of text and a font.”
In a perfect (and perfectly-designed) world, every company would be able to afford a thoughtfully-crafted brand identity. That isn’t realistic. But it might help to look at the brouhaha surrounding Squarespace’s new app from a slightly different perspective. For every logo made with the site, that’s one person out there who’s at least a little bit interested in creating something easy on the eyes. It’s one logo that’s a little more polished, a little more professional than what would have otherwise made it into the world. And that’s never a bad thing.