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Squarespace and Fiverr Offers Logos at Rock-Bottom Prices; Should People Bite?

The company Squarespace, most famous for providing easy-to-use editable templates to make well-designed websites attainable for the masses, upped the ante recently by launching an app for do-it-yourself logos. This, predictably, had the design community up in arms. Making a technical enterprise like building a website simple was one thing, but encroaching upon logo design, which calls for a special alchemy of creativity and communication expertise to capture a company’s essence in one eloquent mark? Blasphemy! To be sure, as this Wired article points out, the demographic for this app would never have even considered hiring a professional graphic designer in the first place, so it’s doubtful it would take any jobs away from established designers or firms, but it could potentially increase the proliferation of badly designed logos, and possibly make it harder for designers who are just starting out to find jobs.

I checked out the app too see what it was all about, and I must admit that I was pretty impressed with its simple and clean interface, but this app was created by design experts, after all. 

In the opening screen, you see a prompt to input the logo name…

…then it takes you to the actual design interface page, which has a field for the logo name, tagline, and a randomly placed symbol (symbol library courtesy of the Noun Project, a website of symbols created by graphic designers around the world):

It allows you to change the size and color of the symbol and text, but it does limit you to just those three elements and a limited collection of fonts so the user won’t succumb to the temptation to throw in a bunch of other symbols or text fields and clutter things up. There is a snap-to-grid function as well as a live preview at the bottom that shows the user what their logo would look like on a mock business card, a web site and a T-shirt, which are pretty helpful. 

Once you’re happy with your logo, you can save it in several different ways: 

It’s not foolproof; no one can prevent you from creating a logo with odd proportions and bad font combinations, but Squarespace sure has tried its darndest to make it that way. As such, I think it could be a useful tool for those who don’t want to spend the time and expense to get a professional logo created, and it would probably look better than what they might create in MS Word or something, but it is still pretty rudimentary. This is definitely no “graphic design killer” in my eyes. 

And remember that young designer I mentioned earlier who might lose out on jobs because of this app? He could possibly make some extra money by contributing symbols to the Noun Project and make a royalty every time Squarespace Logo sells one of his symbols. Squarespace may very well become a designer’s “frenemy.” 

Another company that has garnered related criticism is Fiverr. This is a site where people offer all manner of services for $5, including logo design! When you type in “logo design” in the search field, this is what comes up:

Yep, sure looks like the logo bargain bin all right, but what do you expect for $5?? Actually, after reading their Terms of Service, I found out that the seller is getting a whopping $4, after Fiverr's cut, and they relinquish ALL rights to the buyer. Wow. You'd have to turning over a LOT of logos to make any kind of decent money, which probably means the designer is recycling a lot of pre-designed elements and just banging these things out without any real thought about what the company is about, etc. So the results look pretty much like what you might get with the Squarespace app, but instead of doing it yourself, you’re getting somebody in a third world country to do it very cheaply. Well, at least with this option there’s a possibility that someone on the other end might know something about composition and balance, if nothing else at all about your company. If you’re OK with the results, great, but I wouldn’t expect much. As with all things, you get what you pay for.

Neither of these things will do much to educate people about the value of good design, but that's always been the struggle for designers. The more things change, the more they really do stay the same.

- Stephanie Han

Stephanie is a Senior Art Director at JDA Inc, a graphic design firm that specializes in supporting companies' branding and retail efforts with a Unified Marketing approach. To learn more, click here.


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