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Squarespace Brand Strategy Super Bowl

To find growth, Squarespace is taking inspiration from fashion marketing


By Hannah Bowler, Senior reporter

March 13, 2023 | 6 min read

Squarespace chief creative officer reveals why he’s taking inspiration from the fashion industry as the company reaches its customer cap.

Squarespace Icons campaign in collaboration with Bjork

Squarespace Icons campaign in collaboration with Bjork

Competing in the web publishing category with the likes of Shopify, WordPress, and GoDaddy, Squarespace wants to be seen and talked about like a fashion brand to stand out from the crowd.

Squarespace has traditionally targeted consumers from the creative industries; from artists to designers and photographers. But the 20-year-old business is now looking to broaden out that audience, realizing that if it’s to find sustained growth, it can’t keep talking to the same people. It’s a challenge the brand’s chief creative officer David Lee has been working on for some time but hasn’t quite landed on the answer... until now.

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Lee has been at the creative helm of Squarespace since 2013 after spending the bulk of his career agency side holding creative director roles at Wieden+Kennedy, TBWA/Worldwide and AKQA. Under his stewardship, Lee has helped the brand become famous for its celebrity campaigns nabbing the likes of Idris Elba, Winona Ryder and John Malkovich.

Lee tells The Drum: “We look for inspiration outside of our sector and our category because if we look at our competitors everything will start looking the same,” he says. One way it tries to replicate the tactics of a fashion brand is to drop its website templates in collections driving hype around its collaborations and new seasons of designs.

Its campaign with Icelandic singer Bjork is a recent example of Lee’s fashion strategy at play. Through its Squarespace Icons project, Bjork and a Squarespace designer created seven different microsites for each of Bjork’s music videos. A short film was then released about the collaboration and then Squarespace turned her designs into templates available in the store for a limited time.

“It’s creative, it’s marketing, it’s collaboration, it’s PR but also product,” Lee explains. “And it’s a perfect example of taking fashion behaviors and fashion conventions, but then bringing that into a place like web publishing.” This will be a core part of Lee’s strategy for the coming year, as he teased “watch this space”.

Lee says the company is constantly learning from its Super Bowl ads to localized campaigns like its first UK-produced ad from August. “We’re trying to do it in our own way where we take a lot of the ideas and the creative sensibilities about how we’ve designed our product and how we’ve been communicating to our audience and then take that to a completely different audience,” he explains.

Squarespace is “dabbling” on TikTok. “We’re still learning just like every other brand how to show up in an authentic way. “Hopefully we don’t show up and hit our stride just when the plug gets pulled,” Lee Says. Squarespace has also pulled back slightly from Twitter but is still using the site now seeing it as more of an “official news channel”.

“We like learning, sometimes we’ll hit it out the park, sometimes we’ll fall flat on our face, but it’s usually at the times where there are [lessons on] both sides of the coin,” he jokes.

“Polarizing” Super Bowl ads

Squarespace topped the best Super Bowl ad lists for 2023 with the trippy Adam Driver spot ‘The Singularity’ that satirized its own origin story of building a website with a website. Lee said the ad “was easily the most clever, dumb and weird” thing Squarespace had done before.

While the “paint is still wet” on the tangible results from its Super Bowl spot Lee says the organic PR from being involved in the tournament is always worth the cost – “that type of earned media and PR coverage is staggering.”

“The Super Bowl is such a weird thing that we usually participate in every year because the stakes are very high. But for us it’s an opportunity to do something a bit different,” Lee says. “With the media landscape being so fractured, there are very few opportunities where you can put one silver bullet out and see what happens."

Lee admits Squarespace’s Super Bowl campaigns are often “polarizing”, as an “indie” brand that is trying to compete with the big beer and car brands Squarespace has to find unusual ways to cut through. “So, whether that be something that’s a little bit odd, weird, quiet or a little bit Zen,” Lee explains. “It’s not always going to be for everyone.”

Squarespace Brand Strategy Super Bowl

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