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BRAND BUILDING

Unpopular Opinion: Canva is Damaging Your Brand

This is probably an unpopular opinion… but there is a chance that your beloved Canva is damaging your brand.

Wait what? Hold the phone. This is not what you want to hear right?

First, I want to be very clear that I think Canva is an amazing tool. It has done wonders to close the gap between business owners, their brand and their marketing/visual content. It has given entrepreneurs the ability to take control and feel empowered in their content creation.

Canva is a great TOOL to help IMPLEMENT your UNIQUE brand CONSISTENTLY.

But not everyone got the memo.

Canva is damaging your brand

So what do I mean when I say Canva is damaging your brand?

When not handled with care and used appropriately, the reliance on any template-based platform is a slippery slope to same-y street.

Letting Canva be the originator of your brand is like serving up TV dinners to your guests and claiming you cooked it from scratch.

It’s obviously mass produced, not brilliant quality and I have a sneaky suspicion I’ve tasted it before. Most importantly, it isn’t YOURS and by no stretch of the imagination can you claim it is. You also can’t prevent any of your friends serving up the same dish next time you visit them expecting a culinary extravaganza.

Canva, just like Creative Market and many others like it, provides lots of lovely, on-trend templates. Brilliant, quick and easy. It’s a no brainer, am I right?

Well not exactly. Canva should come with a health warning, or at least a brand health warning. I’m not suggesting you don’t use the platform at all. Far from it. But when you allow Canva be the brand designer you run into trouble. This is about using it in the right way.

So what do I mean when I say Canva is damaging your brand?

 

When not handled with care and used appropriately, the reliance on any template-based platform is a slippery slope to same-y street.

Letting Canva be the originator of your brand is like serving up TV dinners to your guests and claiming you cooked it from scratch.

It’s obviously mass produced, not brilliant quality and I have a sneaky suspicion I’ve tasted it before. Most importantly, it isn’t YOURS and by no stretch of the imagination can you claim it is. You also can’t prevent any of your friends serving up the same dish next time you visit them expecting a culinary extravaganza.

Canva, just like Creative Market and many others like it, provides lots of lovely, on-trend templates. Brilliant, quick and easy. It’s a no brainer, am I right?

 

Well not exactly. Canva should come with a health warning, or at least a brand health warning. I’m not suggesting you don’t use the platform at all. Far from it. But when you allow Canva be the brand designer you run into trouble. This is about using it in the right way.

Five Ways Canva is Damaging Your Brand

I call it vanda-branding. When you slowly but surely vandalise your beautiful, brilliant brand.

You do this when you don’t keep it consistent, unique or high quality. One day it’s a pastel gradient, the next it’s retro squiggles and dots and the next it’s clip art illustrations or the same stock images everyone is using on repeat.

In small increments you chip away at the visual impact and equity of your brand because nothing’s ever the same. It’s not coming from the same place. It’s like changing your hair colour, wardrobe, accent, attitude and beliefs and still expecting your friends to recognise you and more importantly feel that sense of familiarity and connection.

I’m not saying Canva is the perpetrator here, just the facilitator.

Vanda-branding
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1. Originality

 

When everyone is jumping on the trending templates, everything starts to look the same. When it comes to brand, originality is powerful. It’s what sets you apart, tells a unique story about you and connects you with the right people. That is the ones who’ve been looking for someone just like you. If you’re a series of vanilla templates that your audience has seen a million times, they don’t connect to you. They just connect to a design trend.

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2. Recognition

 

In brand terms, you want your audience to be able to pick you out in a crowd. To recognise you instantly because of the consistent, unique combination of brand signposts you share. When you rely on a smorgasbord of templates, you dilute your visual fingerprint and impact. So instead of your audience instantly recognising you, you’re actually reinforcing the Canva brand.

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3. Trust & Authority

 

Jumping from template to template will mean you don’t create a strong, reliable and relatable brand personality of your own. And how can your audience trust you if they don’t know what version of you they’re going to get from one post to the next? Consistency is code for reliability. It builds a strong picture of the real, authentic you. And ultimately forges a relationship based on trust. The best kind.

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4. Ownability

 

It’s simple, you don’t own the assets you create, Canva does. When a competitor pops up with an identical logo or look & feel you don’t have a leg to stand on.

This is what Canva has to say about the ownability of a logo you might create in their platform:

In creating a unique logo in Canva from scratch, you can use basic lines and shapes from our Free library. You can also use all of our fonts. 

However, you can’t use stock content (e.g. photos and graphics) as we only give you a non-exclusive licence to this. Other Canva users are free to use the same content which means that using stock content for your logos isn’t suitable for use in a trademark. Elements in a logo need to be exclusive to you.

Canva’s logo templates are customisable and can be used by anyone. This means that your rights to the logo are non-exclusive and you can’t register it as a trademark.

There’s only 1 way to be certain you own the logo or assets you use in Canva, again to quote the platform itself:

Upload your original logo to Canva
You can upload your own logo design to Canva. This might be a logo you designed yourself or one you commissioned a graphic designer to create for you. 

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5. Quality & Professionalism

 

Sorry, but Canva doesn’t bring the finesse of a designer. It can’t do because it has to be accessible to the masses. You simply can’t achieve the nuances and detailing that a designer can achieve in a program like Adobe Illustrator. Again, it’s not a criticism, we’re not comparing apples with apples. They do different jobs, when these very different tools stay in their lane they are equally brilliant.

As an aside, have you ever tried increasing the size of a design or logo created in Canva? Maybe for signage? No can do. It’s not a vector file which means the moment you start to blow-it up, it will pixelate. Which means it will get blurry and lose quality.

If you think Canva is damaging your brand fear not, all is not lost.

The bottom line is this. Use Canva as it’s intended, as a facilitator for your brilliant brand. Set the foundations, get all of your brand ducks in a row and then take advantage of all that Canva has to offer to bring it to life. But do it with consistency, quality and ownability as your guide. If you produce an asset that doesn’t tick all those boxes, it’s a no from me.

First cab off the rank is to create an ownable brand with cut-through that is a true reflection of you (not a Stepford Wife).

Then use Canva intentionally to help you expand your brand. Make sure you are absolutely clear on the elements that make up your unique brand fingerprint and use them shamelessly on repeat. Don’t be side-tracked by trending templates and shiny objects. You will not be doing your brand any favours.

So what should you do next? It’s pretty simple really. Go and upload your brand colours, fonts, elements, textures, icons and templates into Canva and use them. And if you don’t have those things, it’s time to find a brand designer to help you put them together.

And designers, don’t be corralled into using Canva to originate work! Design your client a unique, high-quality solution you want to put your name to. Then consider how you can embrace Canva to support your client to get the best from that brand.

So go forth and let Canva be the brilliant design implementation platform it’s meant to be. Canva is about the design doing, but there needs to be some design thinking first.

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