OMG SquareSpace? Errbody just needs to calm down.

  •   Joshua Buckwalter

By Joshua Buckwalter

SquareSpace launched a new tool that promises to enable everyone to create a simple logo for $10 a shot.

The internets exploded with outraged designers decrying and mocking the site. How dare they? How could they? What does this mean for our industry?

Chill.

Our office got a kick out of it. It’s a beautiful piece of work. The simplicity of the interface and its ease of use are remarkable. I had a blast coming up with a multitude of frivolously named fictitious brands with inappropriate logos. This was almost a unanimous reaction. We also noted how generic and non-specific the results it generated were.

I'm continually amazed at the negative response to it on industry blogs and places like LinkedIn with many claiming that this is yet another milestone of the inevitable march to commoditization of design. Design, as a method for solving problems, cannot be commoditized. The production skills involved in bringing solutions to reality can. Our industry desperately needs to stop conflating design and act of making. Both are incredibly valuable, but are entirely different. Design defines the intent of craft. Craft in and of itself isn't inherently valuable. We confuse the world by asserting that they are the same act.

There is a tipping point where a considerately designed identity becomes valuable to a company.

I feel as though we have overemphasized the importance of a logo or visual identity. This isn't to say it is not important! (Far from it.) But, it's not the most important thing for every company. A brand is, first and foremost, the experience that a company creates for its customers or clients. Its interactions and quality of its offerings mean more for a company than any other branding or marketing it could do. A logo is a means of visually differentiating in the marketplace and could be serviced just as well with a wordmark set in Times New Roman as anything a professional designer might create. For some companies, the strength of their experiences or products is enough. Some may simply not see enough of a return on investment, or perhaps not quickly enough, to justify the expense. There is a tipping point where a strong, considerately designed identity becomes valuable to a company. For all those below this threshold, there is a lack of real options. And from that lack of options, we see some really horrible craft. SquareSpace services this market segment in a completely accessible way and they should be applauded.

Over the past decade, I've watched services like 99designs, iStock, WooThemes, etc. rise and I've only seen the quality of actual design go up. Services like these challenge designers to offer real, quality design solutions in order to differentiate themselves. The gap between what we provide and what these services provide cannot be closed as long as we continue to define the difference between thought and execution.


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