Last month, Squarespace, a mobile-ready web design template platform (with an emphasis on good design), unveiled a new tool. It’s called Squarespace Logo, and just as you might have guessed by the name, Squarespace Logo is an online application for building simple logos. It uses icons (30,000+) from The Noun Project and allows users to include a title and tagline using Google Fonts. A print-ready logo file will cost you a mere $10. If you’re already a paying Squarespace customer, the logo is free to use.
When it first launched, there was plenty of uproar from designers claiming that this service would negatively impact the design industry. If a client only has to pay $10 for a logo from Squarespace Logo, why would they engage a design agency that would surely charge many times that amount?
The truth is that Squarespace Logo is not for anyone who needs a logo. It could work perfectly well for some, be disastrous for others, and fall short of full glorious potential for most. It should be emphasized here that generally, or perhaps I should say ideally, a logo is the result of a process. One might say that it is a process in and of itself. Yes, it is a beautiful thing, but it’s also a communication device: it’s got a job to do. It says who you are, often what you are (or what you do), and gives a bit of stylistic insight into the personality of the brand behind the logo. How much of that can be done with ready-made icons?
That’s where a non-designer creating his or her own logo gets a little senseless. The average non-designer will have little to no insight into the intricacies of the design process. That’s not to say they couldn’t use the application to their benefit. The icons that Squarespace Logo uses are fairly well designed, and there are a handful of nice typefaces to choose from. So pick your pairings well and you end up with a decent logo, right? Maybe. I think it’s true though, that with Squarespace Logo, you’ll never end up with a logo that’s truly great. The application allows you to color, align, and resize the elements at your will and with a fair amount of control. What it lacks is the ability to finesse minute details: kerning space between pairs of letters and fine-tuning anchor points, for example. These are the kinds of details designers obsess over, all in the service of crafting a beautiful logo.
When a client approaches us (or any design agency) with the task of branding or rebranding their business, much more goes into the development of the identity than pairing a premade icon with some nice typography. It involves a small amount of research—about who the client is, what they do, and what they are all about—and also who their competitors are. After talking with the client, we write a brand discovery document and creative brief for the project. Both seek to inform and guide the designers so their work is always on target.
Out of curiosity, I made a new logo for Jibe via Squarespace Logo. It took about 15 minutes. I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted to do with it, of course, but those inclined to use this tool probably wouldn’t know what to do beyond what’s presented, anyway. Like I mentioned earlier, there are some who could use Squarespace Logo to their benefit. If you’re already strapped for cash and aren’t interested in a full brand experience, maybe this could benefit you. In terms of making the brand landscape a more beautiful place, you could certainly do worse. Squarespace does care about design, after all.
Technically, though, one can’t really design a logo with this tool. Call it creation, assembly, or production, but if there’s no underlying process or concept involved somewhere, it’s not design.
Just as the name implies, Squarespace Logo will help you create a logo only, not a brand or identity. You can design the best logo in the world, but if it’s not backed up by a solid brand identity, it’s not going to be worth much. Eric E. Anderson, a developer at Squarespace, said it well: “A toaster is a tool to make toast, not breakfast. Logo is a tool to make logos not brands.”
Sam DeMastrie is a designer and art director at Jibe. He thrives on everything design and has a passion for branding and logo development.