Using Canva to create beautiful, original marketing designs

Using Canva to create beautiful, original marketing designs

Knowing where to start with your marketing themes can be tricky and time-consuming – especially working out the smaller details and layout that best show off what you have to offer. Learning how to use Canva’s online design environment can make designing flyers, pamphlets, Instagram ads, and other marketing materials fun, easy and painless for both novices and veterans of the design world.

Benefits of Canva

  • It’s easy and intuitive. Canva’s intended purpose is to make great design accessible. They offer hundreds of online templates for every imaginable use. Customizing these templates is as simple as uploading your own images and changing pre-filled text for your display information. You can customize your own materials and have them look professional – without the consulting costs or timeframes that can often be out-of-budget.
  • Templates come pre-sized for the most popular platforms. We all know the nightmare of struggling to crop that photo just right for the display-size on Facebook or an event cover page. Canva’s pre-sizing saves valuable time by allowing you to select the medium you’re going to be using and incorporating its size into your design from the start. Whether you’re using a social media site like Instagram or Facebook, or you want to size your own graphic, your content won’t get distorted or leave out valuable information after being cropped.

Sign up

Signing up is free and takes less than a minute, but is required for access. You can register through your Facebook or Google account, or your private email. Once you’re in, you’ll have a dashboard that will display your projects with several options to share documents or create a team of collaborators. You’ll be able to access design tutorials and browse other people’s work for inspiration from the dashboard.

Pick your design purpose

Canva offers pre-sized design templates in the following categories: Social Media Posts & Headers, Documents, Blogging & eBooks, Marketing Materials, Events, Ads, and Popular Designs (drawn from all categories). These categories are displayed in a blue workspace after you click the green “Create a design” button. The key to success is singling out the exact purpose of the document you’re designing. Consider whether you’re looking for a flyer to hand out or posters to hang, a digital ad for your Facebook cover photo, an Instagram-shareable square graphic, or a cutting edge resume.  While one of the best things about Canva is that they have an answer for everyone, browsing their hundreds of templates without a clear picture of your needs can be time-consuming.

Get your information ready

Write down what vital information you want displayed. Understanding what information you’re putting on the graphic and having it handy will help save time later when picking a template by recognizing and avoiding designs that don’t match your needs.  For example, if you know you’re going to be promoting an event on a flyer, it’s a good idea to write down the must-haves: where, when, how to register, etc. If you’re working on a mouth-watering poster for your new bakery, you probably need to include location, hours, information on specials or custom-made items, and your website. An Instagram post might not require anything more than your slogan and business name.

Pick a template

After selecting the category and type of graphic you’re looking for, you’ll have available templates for the category you selected on the left-hand side of the screen in a toolbox. Take some time to peruse your options; clicking on the designs you like will bring them to the workspace and allow you to explore them up-close. If the design is labeled as free, it’s yours to use, but if you choose a ‘premium design’ you’ll have to pay a small, one-time fee (usually around $1.50) to gain full access. Be careful not to make changes on a template until you’ve narrowed down your design; each time you switch to a new design during your template exploration, your work won’t be saved unless you specifically save the document and reopen a new one.

Customize your template

This is where you set your creative genius free. If you’d like to use the template as-is, you can simply delete Canva’s pre-filled text and enter your own. To customize the template, use the various text, shape, background, and upload image buttons located in the same tool bar. B careful to avoid common pitfalls. Make sure your font is easily readable (never too small) and whatever your medium is, don’t cram in information. Use the rule of importance when selecting font sizes; the ‘main-point’ information, like the name of your brand, your company slogan, or the type of event, should always be a bigger, bolder font than other information.  Too many fonts, sizes, or text colors at once can make a graphic too busy, so settle on one or two of each and use your best judgment. Match the template and photo you’re using with the needs and style of what you’re advertising. Beginners often select the first template that speaks to them – not the first template that speaks to the marketing material. The same way you probably wouldn’t use a rustic theme to promote your sleek, innovative, new technology, make sure your template choice seems like a natural partner for your intended message. The more cohesive the photo and text are, the more eye-grabbing and professional-looking your graphic will be!

Download, email, or share your graphic directly

Once you’ve finished your design, you can download it as a pdf or picture file (depending on what template you used), email your file, or share it directly via social media if your accounts are linked to Canva. You can also choose to make your design public, allowing other Canva-users to take a peek at it for inspiration.


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