Yesterday, Squarespace released a new tool called Squarespace Logo that brought the company's dead easy, drag-and-drop approach to making a logo. We wrote it up, and while we didn't think it was revolutionary, we did think it was a nice tool for small businesses and freelancers who wanted to put a dab more polish on their branding.
To hear many of the Internet's designers tell the tale, though, Squarespace just upended a dysenteric bowel all over the community. Just hours after launching, Squarespace Logo had become such a joke that there's even a parody Tumblr account that mocks the new tool.
Just look at these reactions from people on Twitter (in the slideshow above, too)!
In short, the consensus seems to be that not only are the logos designed by Squarespace's tool amateurish, but also that by releasing it, Squarespace has signified a casual contempt for the hard work that designers actually do. To critics, Squarespace Logo devalues design and aims to put designers out of work.
But is this vitriol really justified? Squarespace's self-described mission is "to provide creative tools that help anyone give a voice to their ideas." Squarespace's identity, in fact, is all about the democratization of design in web publishing: this idea that the key to improving the standard of design on the web is to give people tools that make it easy to express themselves with a modicum of polish.
Responding to the controversy, Squarespace explains on its official blog:
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.
Exactly right. Since 2004, Squarespace has specialized in creating simple tools for people without a lot of resources or technical expertise, and saying, "Hey, here's an easy way for everyone to make something that looks nice." Squarespace Logo is no different, yet only now are people's heads exploding about it.
Is Squarespace Logo sophisticated? No, but it does make it easy for someone getting started in web publishing for the first time to make a simple, distinctive header composed of an icon, a name, and a tagline that is distinctly theirs. It might not be much, but to people who weren't going to hire a designer anyway, these are the stumbling baby steps that, as their business grows, may eventually bring them down a more sophisticated path in branding and design.
You can't know to care about something if you've never thought about it before. Squarespace Logo is a gentle prod that gets people who otherwise wouldn't to start thinking about their brand while their businesses are still young. That's hardly a design apocalypse. It's a good thing. The fact that it happens to make for a pretty good tool for making funny parody logos is just icing on the cake.