"WHAT????" I can almost hear you scream at your computer from here!!!
Settle down, it's okay, you can STILL use Canva! Perhaps my title was a little harsh. What I'm really trying to say, is that you've got to stop using Canva the way that you're using it, because it's ruining your brand.
I know what you're thinking:
"You're a designer, of course you're against Canva, because it means you're pretty much redundant!"
Well actually, I'm not against Canva at all - and I've actually worked with clients to develop templates that enable them to work with Canva.
The problem I've got is that people are using Canva without really considering their brand image. They create graphics as an after thought, without much strategy or design process, and then sit back and wonder why their product doesn't sell or their post isn't getting much engagement.
Don't worry, this post isn't just me ranting about how poor people's graphics are (because they're not all bad!). So I'd like to share with you some things that you can utilise to take your Canva use to the next level.
I'm sure if I did a little keyword research on my site right now, the word 'consistency' would come up as a main keyword because I use it so-damn-much! But it really is the back-bone of building your visual brand identity!
What I see happening a lot, is that there isn't any consistency with colours, fonts, shapes and images used to promote content or products when their promotional images are made with Canva. Why? Because they haven't stuck to (or maybe even created) a brand style guide.
Even if you haven't invested in getting a logo designed, you can still create a consistent look and feel to your Canva images by sticking to a colour theme. If you're not sure what colours to use, do a little bit of research into the psychology of colour or use an app like Paletton to help you select complimentary colour schemes. Make sure you know your brand colours #hex code - as you'll need this to ensure you're using the exact tone every time you need a new graphic.
I know I briefly mentioned fonts in the consistency section above, but I felt that it warranted it's own section here. One of the main qualms I have with Canva, is that you're limited to the fonts that Canva have developed as part of their online program.
So if you've invested in a logo design, or even come up with a design yourself, chances are that a beautiful custom font (not Helvetica Neue or Comic Sans!) forms part of your logo.
Not being able to utilise this, or the specific supplementary fonts that have been chosen to represent your brand will immediately inhibit you from creating a cohesive look across the board.
So what can you do?
Start by creating your graphics in Canva, but leave space for headings/large text areas to be created at a later stage. Once you've got the crux of your design, export it and open the file in Microsoft's Powerpoint (I create a template for each of my main images e.g. Facebook Cover, Instagram, Facebook Post etc) and the use your installed custom fonts to create the text. Voila! With only a slight bit more effort you've got a stunning custom graphic!
Add Some Flair
One of the key reasons why I feel that Canva can detract from creating a unique and recognisable brand identity for your business, is that it's easy to fall into the trap of creating something mediocre just because you can do it quickly and cheaply.
If you're working with a designer, why not let them know that you'll be utilising Canva for your blog post images, facebook cover images and instagram posts (plus lots more, I'm sure!) and that way they can work with you to create some custom graphic elements that you can build into your Canva templates.
This allows you to still use Canva as you normally would, but you can also add elements that are specific to your brand.
If you don't have the budget to work 1:1 with a designer, consider investing in some custom graphics/patterns from somewhere like Creative Market. Keep an eye out, as they've usually got some great freebies each week as well!
Get Transparent & Layer Up
Here's my final hot-tip for you, on how you can use all the features of Canva, just as they are, but still level up your designs.
1. Play with transparency.
I see many Canva created graphics that often have a picture, and then a big block colour shape (either rectangular or circle) underneath the text of their image.
These large blocks of colour can be pretty harsh on the eyes and end up distracting from the text rather than accentuating it.
Why not try utilising the transparency function to fade out your background colour, so it doesn't look so 'blocky'. Or you can use a semi-transparent white background, and utilise your brand colours in your fonts instead
2. Layer Up.
Layering can really add some interest to your images. Start by layering shapes of the same shape and size, but different colours, and then move one slightly off center to the other. This will add just a little bit more interest to those 'blocky' shapes that are so easy to just leave as is.
I've had my say, and hopefully there's at least SOMETHING in there that helps you up-level your Canva designs next time around. But what's your opinion? Do you use Canva? Do you love it? Or what do you wish you could do with Canva that you're currently not able to (or don't know how!). Let me know in the comments below.