Squarespace Logo

I landed in NYC today, opened my Twitter timeline and found a bunch of angry designers getting at Squarespace for having created Squarespace Logo. I was stunned.

The never ending stream of snarky comments on the new tool that helps anyone create simple “logos” made my heart sink. What is it with the design community so quickly lashing out at other creators? It’s totally ok to disagree but not to ridicule other people’s creations. I have no respect for that.

I am impressed by the simple tool they built. I have respect for the thoughtfulness and craft that went into it. Am I super thrilled that they are saying ‘anyone can design a great logo’, not really, but that’s not the point. Their logo builder is not much different than a tool like Adobe Illustrator.

I know quite a few folks over at Squarespace and I can assure you one thing: They care about design. They care about the web being a more beautiful place. And I am grateful for it. They even state in their blog announcement that this tool will never replace the need for professional designers.

Next time your cousins, uncles and aunts ask you to design a website and logo for $250, just know, that there is such an amazing tool like Squarespace that will help them get online, in a beautiful minimal way, at a low price.

Never forget: The web is a place of abundance. There will always be folks that appreciate the importance of a custom tailored brand. So, designers, take a deep breath. It’s all good. There’s a place for basic tools like Squarespace Logo *and* for your craft.

And, next time we want to ridicule someone else’s labor of love, let’s all remember this great talk by Jason Santa Maria.

UPDATE: Yes, as Erik has mentioned in the comments, Squarespace has been supporting this blog over the last year with sponsored posts. I would have written this post even if they weren’t my sponsor. I have had the pleasure to meet a few Squarespace team members over the last year and have grown fond of the their passion for what they are building. I respect their craft and hustle. They are good people! I will not accept the design community lashing out at people I admire. There is too much negativity in our community and I hope that posts like this will help swing the pendula the other way.

64 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Exactly. Designers shouldn’t be too worried. The same so-called problem exists in the restaurant business. There are super cheap options available, such as McDonalds where a customer can buy a burger for as cheap as a dollar. That doesn’t mean all the 5-star restaurants are now out of business. Ultimately, let the customer choose what they want. If they go for the super low-cost option, you probably don’t want to deal with them anyway. As a designer, you sell a premium product, you need to have faith in your craft! Step away from the $1 menu mentality.

  2. I agree,you can’t replace designers with software but it’s a greta for people to be able to play around with it, people who can’t afford a designer yet.

  3. The 5-star businesses will continue to crank out ridiculously nice and expensive logos, but this company just became the McDonalds of the logo world to steal the business away from freelancers, students who just graduated and a TON of other people who can add value to a logo by properly diagnosing the problem the client has.

    They will fulfill the wants of uneducated Americans, not the needs. They will undercut the costs of all the “mom and pop” places who have been offering a good product at a good price for years. And they will do it all while making a tidy profit.

    Making the web look better does not mean they care about design or designers. It means they care about cashing in on the ignorance of the abundance of start-ups.

    Are you still “Lovin’ It?” now?

  4. True. At the same though, at least Squarespace is know for their pleasing aesthetic and focus on decent design. It just may be a better option when compared to some of the work that comes from sites like Fiverr.

  5. I doubt any professional graphic designers are truly threatened by this. They understand that designing a meaningful logo is more than just a formal exercise in arranging visual elements in a pleasing way.

    Their annoyance is more that the tool implies that ‘logo design’ is superfluous and trivial, so trivial anyone can do it. It gives an air of legitimacy to ‘cheap and easy’.

    Perhaps Squarespace would have better served their customers by creating a tool that determines if you really need a logo in the first place.

  6. As a designer, if your work resembles something like this. You have other problems than this tool.

  7. I really appreciate the way that you have reconciled your values, with supporting your sponsor, and without holding back. It is a truism that Squarespace cares about design. Clearly.

    Well done.

  8. An insightful and well-written article. The overreaction from designers is embarrassing and just shows how melodramatic and childish they are, and how little concept they have of the principles behind running a business.

    Designers who publicly claim things like Squarespace (and 99designs) are “devaluing the industry” are the ones who actually devalue the industry because those not in the industry see them acting like the spoilt brats they are, thus choosing to hire the services of a crowd sourcing site because they won’t have to deal with designers that have their heads up their own asses.

    The world (and internet) is large enough for everyone in every industry to co-exist.

  9. “Why should I hire you when I can do it for free by myself.” is a question I never want to answer, even though my response will be “go right ahead.”

  10. I disagree with the whole, “I’m not threatened approach.” You do have to educate the community about your industry. The ever common, “just charge high prices,” and they’ll come takes time to get to in your career. If you run a company there is a responsibility/ level of class associated with making sure all levels of ability can make a decent wage in the field. If you’re making a decent wage looking down on those struggling to get a foot in the door by assuming they can go elsewhere is terrible. Free tools do add to confusion for customers. “Worry is for nerds,” doesn’t help a soul.

  11. Sorry, Tina, I think you’re in the wrong on this one. You’re quite an established designer – but are you now that far removed from the experience of a designer who was just starting up, perhaps as a recent graduate, eager to take on projects and prove yourself / gain experience? I’m not saying this tool will produce anything near what a truly talented designer with a soul can produce. That isn’t my point. My concern is that it will now be that much easier for businesses in need of branding to take “the easy route” and overlook/bypass the potential of a burgeoning designer. Have you not considered any of that, or are you just trying to pander to one of your most frequent sponsors of an RSS feed? Let’s get real.

  12. This is software for ‘Graphic decoration’,
    not ‘Graphic design’.

  13. A small step to Tattoos Made Simple ;)

  14. I’m not sure how I feel about Squarespace Logo l yet. On the one hand, I know that having access to a simple tool doesn’t mean your average joe will produce that same beautiful designs that great designers can. I also know that businesses just starting out could use resources like this since they need to keep costs down.

    On the other hand, I’m a newer designer. I’m still at the point of taking on lower-paying jobs for the sake of building my portfolio, and I will do jobs for friends and family (despite the occasional headaches). I respect that a designer at Tina’s level wouldn’t be “worried” about Squarespace Logo because she might not need to take on jobs like that. But for those of us who do, I can only hope that our loved ones/first clients will have enough respect for good design that they’ll outsource that work. Hopefully they’ll have the wisdom to know that access to a tool isn’t all that makes an artist and they’ll value a trained designers input in their business ventures.

  15. Nice tool.

    “graphic designers” who are scared of this, should maybe work on their skills.

    Some of my non designer friends who need a first cheap logo and have some sort of aesthetic sense would maybe be able to build something they would be satisfied with.

    but these people are not the customers I’m aiming for anyway.

  16. Will small business’s ever use it?
    If they are setting up their ‘identity’ on a micro budget, and they don’t care about the small choice of typefaces and brand marks, why would you ever want to work with them in the first place?

    A client with a micro budget budget, uneducated on aesthetics, happy with ubiquitous design and typography.

    Why would they be a problem? surely they are the catfish of all clients, they are not a threat, if anything having this logo application it removes a lot of time wasting clients.

    Wheres the threat to designers? Its like builders and architects being threatened by the release of Lego and Playdoh.

    If people want Playdoh houses, let them, it will be obvious that they are made made by kids.

    If adult want real houses they will always go to the architects.

    Same with clients and designers, unless they are bad enough at design that they look like they used an app to make the logo.

    Squarespace Logo app | The catfish of identity design

  17. Same thing happened when Macs with Aldus Pagemaker became available to the masses eons ago. But it improved and grew the design industry, and sometimes allowed people to see that using software takes more skill than just learning how to use software. We all know better.

  18. This is perfect for my lawyer friends!!!!

  19. Well said Swiss-Miss!

  20. My though exactly, Tina.

    The folks at Squarespace care about their product a lot, and it shines though.

    If a designer is worried about a $10 tool putting them out of work they need to step up.

  21. Thanks for posting a clear perspective, Swiss-Miss.

    Squarespace Logo is simply a tool with limitations, but is adequate for the needs of some. The people who embrace it and make the most of it probably aren’t willing or able to take on the cost of working with a skilled designer and all that the creative process entails.

    It’s (quite a few steps) above spec work, which I believe also has it’s place in the design cosmos. If you find the concept of spec demeaning, simply choose not to participate (as is my personal choice). I don’t think that a designer who is passionate about the creative process would want the sponsor of a spec design contest as a client anyway. I believe the common term for people like that is a buster. From my experience, they have no aspiration toward investing in the creative process.

    I always consider this analogy when it comes to cut-cost design services: You can purchase a tie for $5 or you can purchase a tie for $250. There is a marked difference in quality between the two products. Be the designer who caters to the $250 tie clients and don’t worry about those hustling for the $5 clients. If they’re putting pressure on your business, be better. Aim for the more respectable client.

  22. Totally agree, but to be fair – this: “They even state in their blog announcement that this tool will never replace the need for professional designers” – didn’t go up until after the twitter backlash was well underway


  23. I think what this really does is shows how important professional design is. It’s the old “You get what you pay for” saying. A free logo tool gives you exactly that, a half-baked, stock logo that other people can also create identically with no personal touch. Most designers wouldn’t want to work with clients that will use this free logo design tool because they either a) don’t have the money to pay for a quality, customized logo b) they want total control over the design process or the dreaded C) they want both. As a designer, it’s always our job to sell our work and this scenario is no different. Be proud of your work and be able to communicate why your designs are better and you shouldn’t have a problem.

  24. Exactly… well-said!

  25. Well said, Swiss Miss! I’m a designer and agree with your balanced view.

  26. The problem I see with this concept is it’s going to give people a logo that they are satisfied with because it looks trendy and similar to other logos out there. But how does that accurately solve their individual design problem? Is “good enough” really good enough? To the uneducated, sure. Ignorance is bliss.

    This website is a pathetic attempt to undermine actual design with the end goal to line their pockets and crank out mediocre design like a factory.

    And WHY are you endorsing this site, Tina? Oh, lets see….”Dec 3 – A big thank you to Squarespace for sponsoring this week’s RSS Feed.”

    Here’s a tip – STOP ENDORSING PRODUCTS THAT PAY YOU. It comes across as a pathetic attempt to dupe your readers so you can get paid and continue to do so.

  27. This should be common sense for considerate and well mannered people. The general message conveyed in this post is a good one. More so, there is *zero cost* in behaving the way swissmiss suggests and lots to gain.

    It is petty to raise associations of sponsorship, this articles does not endorse anything except consideration for the efforts of others. I think this article handles the relationship with dignity and respect.

  28. As a non-designer and someone who has started a company from the ground up by bootstrapping, I think this is a very nice tool. It it was 3 years before we could afford a professionally designed logo by a non-family member (Thank you Mat Dolphin in the UK).

    I am launching a new business and I just popped on there and whipped up 3 ideas that look great for now. It makes me happy to do things quickly. One of these logos will be perfect until I get around to working with a professional designer on a logo.

    AND, who knows, I might even use Squarespace for the new venture.

  29. Thank you for helping to make the Internet less snarky!

  30. Love this response! There will always be people who will opt to design their own logos for free with tools they have on hand rather than pay for a professional to do the job, and if Squarespace can make those free logos look better, HALLELUJAH.

    My church opted to design their own logo about a decade ago using Microsoft Publisher and three pieces of VERY ugly clip-art, and I am so grateful to Squarespace for putting a better option out there. (Granted, when the time comes to update the church logo, I will still lobby for having a professional designer do the work if we can afford it, but ANYTHING has to be better than a blue basketball with a fuzzy cross and pointy-armed men jumping in front of it.)

  31. How is it petty to point out that Squarespace PAYS for this website to remain active? And that Tina gets paid by them? Would you feel comfortable fully endorsing a company that pays you when you’re supposed to be an objective third-party?

    If you think that’s petty, then I think you’re selectively ignorant. As a blogger and “judge of the internet”, she should recuse herself from any topic that pays her bills and not include those topics in her posts.

    Kelsey, I’m going to use your case as an example – you waited 3 years to come up with a brand identity. To me, that’s insane to not have yourself properly branded so the public can identify your company. So, I would say it’s safe to say you don’t understand the importance of proper brand identity.

    Look at ANY major company and tell me you don’t recognize their logo almost instantly. It’s the soul of the company, expressed in a single image/mark/font.

    For Squarespace to say, “Here is a basic logo that looks like everyone else’s” is the same as saying, “You have no soul and no personality. You should look like everyone else. Be a sheep. Fit in. Be the same as everyone else”. So tell me how THAT message is responsible and befitting the design community that already has enough trouble justifying itself as a professional career?

  32. Hah, I knew there was a reason I subscribe to you on Quarterly! I don’t see what the big deal is, and I found the tool fun to play around with.

    If this tool frees me of “clients” in the future that want me to do a lion’s share of work for pennies, then great. If it doesn’t, *also* great.

  33. This issue shouldn’t be about ‘upsetting designers’. We are natural pain-in-the-ass quality control freaks. Everything sets us off… it’s kind of our job to let it.

    The crux of the problem is the language Squarespace used. It suggested that design is not worth investing in and that there is no value (well 10 bucks) in small businesses and start ups investing in design.

    Many businesses and designers forge mutually beneficial relationships at the beginning of their lives. It’s important for both to forge links at this early stage and Squarespace Logo says ‘don’t bother’.

    This is why designers are legitimised in feeling upset. This is why designers should be angry.

  34. I work in the field of 3d. When a firm comes up with a smart new way of creating something faster and cheaper, it’s most often taken in by the 3d specialist community as a way to reach new visual ground, as a stepping stone.

    And if that’s not possible, as I guess is the case here with the graphic design community and SQSP’s tool, it’s seen as something that inspires or pushes people toward developing new and more complex products and services – to specialise even further.

    The whining and lamenting over what SQSP has done is problematic. It should be a warning sign to those who do feel threatened by what is a really, really simple tool.

  35. Brilliant – somewhere to send people who say “I have to pay you for that” – which happened yesterday. Bring it on!

  36. This is one of the many reasons I LOVE your blog. The combination of real opinions, light hearted mood lifters, fun stuff, creative kick in the rear…. I just love it all.

  37. I would love to hear the reaction from Massimo Vignelli to all this garbage, unnecessary design all the way, creating more visual pollution.

  38. This —-> It was fast! http://yaysquarespacelogo.tumblr.com/

    I hate all the “yuppy yay don’t be harsh” sometimes you need to be rude, to hit someone on the mouth.

  39. I feel like Robert De Niro on Taxi Driver, I want to go out and shoot all the “Yuppy Yay don’t be harsh people”

  40. Whaaa?!

    Squarespace is one of SwissMiss’s paying sponsors?

    Is this true Tina?

  41. My thought exactly. A lot of us designers got into the trade precisely because of democratic tools like this. If you remember where you come from, you don’t ridicule something like this.

  42. Erik, J,

    Yes, Squarespace has been sponsoring my RSS Feed over the last year. I only partner with brands who’s service or product I admire/believe in. And Squarespace is one of them.

    But not only that, I have had the pleasure to get to know some folks over at Squarepsace. They are good people, passionate about what they are building.

    If you read my post again, it’s not defense of a ‘sponsor’ but an appeal at our design community to think twice when lashing out at other makers.

    I will make an update stating that they have been sponsoring my feed. Hope this helps.

    Thanks for commenting!


  43. Think the point is that with them as your sponsor then it should have been mentioned in a prominent disclaimer right at the top of the article.

    People can then make their own minds up, taking that in to account.

    It’s unprofessional to do otherwise or veil it under “know quite a few folks”.

  44. But Erik has a good point you can’t really be impartial. If they were not a sponsor I would have thought fair enough but that’s not the case.


  45. Thanks for sharing Tina. I hadn’t heard about this yet.

  46. Xavier,

    I agree that we must remember what first inspired us as designers to get into this profession. I was probably 7 when my grandma almost started crying at one of my sketches I had done of her holiday candlesticks that I loved seeing every Christmas. Her support made me commit to using my talent at an early age.

    The problem with SquareSpace is this is not a tool that is aimed to inspire children – its a tool to crank out generic logos for adults to use in a professional atmosphere. If they were marketing this to pre-teens (I’d argue teenagers already are familiar with PS and likely some sort of page layout program), then I would be totally on-board!! That would be AWESOME.

    But SquareSpace isn’t concerned with them. They’re concerned with profit. Ten dollars at a time. And although it might not seem like much to a professional, to someone who is just coming out of college, this is not only taking away their ability to pay back student loans, but it’s taking away opportunities for them to grow their portfolio. THAT is the market that will see the biggest impact from this software.

  47. Erik

    I appreciate your point of view. I was talking about tools like Microsoft Publisher or Adobe Photoshop. Printers were outraged when those tools first came out. For the exact same reason. Those tools were marketed in the same way. And look where we are now, we’ve formed the entire design field around tools like that. And the internet is changing the game again.

    The cure is very simple. Keep doing better work. Come up with new stuff. This thing is only a threat to bad designers who charge too much. Half of your value as a designer is how you explain things to your client, it’s a different business.

  48. Squarespace logo is a clever, handy little tool with glaring limitations. Rather like any designer who would trouble to whine about it.

  49. The truth of the matter is, a business or individual who uses SquareSpace to create a logo isn’t likely to spend the money to go to a professional designer. I think if you look at who their clientele is, you’ll find that it’s not much different than companies that would create logos using Microsoft Word Clip Art. I wouldn’t waste my time going after those people (even when I started), why would you?

    The people who are willing to pay for design are not going to change their minds because of a “new” tool that makes it “easy” to design a logo. Tell me how this is any different then the clip art and prebuilt designs on VistaPrint?

    I give SquareSoft props for finding a niche and I hope they are successful at it.

    WordPress didn’t kill web development, iPhones and micro stock didn’t kill professional photography and Final Cut didn’t kill the video editor. New tool, same story.

    Focus on finding work and less time fussing, you might be surprised at the success.

  50. Well said, Tina. It is a tool and nothing more.

  51. Web templates didn’t kill web design, logo templates won’t kill logo design.

  52. Well, I think this tool is not really useful for anyone because it does not even fullfill the basic expectations of an amateur and is in NO way a harm for designers. Those who feel disparaged by this should overthink their life and goals in their career.

  53. This sort of approach to design does make me very uncomfortable. Design is misunderstood & undervalued at the best of times. This tool doesnt feel like its supporting the design process or designers. The tool itself is well put together as is all of Squarespace. This isn’t a criticism of them.

  54. ^ …then again, maybe all of that is a good thing. Throw into the world and see what happens. I guess Burger King is huge middle finger to the €20+ Burger I had in Stockholm a few years & both can exist.

  55. It’s a bit like Waterlogue, which makes watercolor out of pictures. If it teaches something to the public, it’s the joy to create and appreciate things…this kind of tool egg frustrating if you want a high end, personal result. And if it teaches public to appreciate a better result, I am all in!

    As a Squarespace customer I must say I am often very frustrated. But I am always polite and kind , at least I try.

    There is a lot of grumpiness these days, not only in our profession. It’s like , “grumpy is the new black”. The more I get older, the more I realize how a little kindness goes a long way. So, thank you for standing up, thank you for saying it. We need examples of good behaviors !

  56. There is very little difference between putting a tool like this in the hands of clients/non-designers and having clients engage crowd-source sites with creative produced by non-designers. There will always be a faction of people that don’t know the difference and care only for the bottom line. In truth, are these the people you want engaging your identity design studio, anyway?

  57. Everything is fine except for the basic premise of their business, that it is about logo design. It is a nice and neat site for putting together a bunch of shapes and text. Just that. It is not logo design. At a time, when educating the non designers about what all designers do is much needed, this notion that logo design-is-a-click-away sort of process is misleading.

    Do we really need to emphasize the obvious? That the logo design isn’t just about drawing a circle and putting text over it. Isn’t it a way lot more than that?

  58. Suhail. You nailed it, thank you.

    The service is inherently misleading and should never have been promoted on a design blog.

  59. Nice logo mate and all video are so cool.very easy to understand your thoughts behind it!!!

  60. So, what if some designers go to the wall. That’s life ! No-one promised them a secure job for life. Get better or get out ! Did same designers cry over same thing happening in just about every industry in last 20 years. What a bunch of wets.

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  62. I agree with you completely. I cannot understand why designers would feel threatened by a simple tool like this. It’s hilarious. It’s also very telling, because automated design and off-the-shelf design is nothing new and is going to get more common in the future. Icons are now frequently off-the-shelf rather than hiring someone to draw an icon from scratch. Instead of fighting against things like this try to change your practice so you are still relevant as a designer today.

    PS – All freelancers and students should be saved from clients who can just use a no-brainer tool like squarepsace, and avoid becoming a pixel pushers.