A Graphic Designer’s Guide to Canva

by | Dec 20, 2022 | Branding

When you should and should not use Canva


It’s almost taboo for an experienced graphic designer to admit to using Canva. As a graphic designer with 20+ years of experience in Adobe Creative Suite, I’ve had my prejudice against point-and-click design tools like Canva. I can even recall forbidding other marketing team members from using it because the results weren’t always ideal. I admit that was years ago, and Canva has come a long way.

With the explosion of social media and Instagram, quick-turn designs are desirable and expected. Many small companies do not have the time or budget to spend hours crafting perfectly designed and on-brand social media posts, event flyers, or presentations. 

While Canva can make the process easier, you’ll still need skills to ensure a good outcome.

Here’s one designer’s opinion on when it should and shouldn’t be used.

What can Canva be used to design?

One of the perks of Canva is that it takes the guesswork out of industry-standard sizing. For instance, social media post templates can be resized depending on your chosen channel. Mobile and desktop video sizing are options, as well. Another perk for non-designers is that thousands of pre-made templates can be updated for your company brand style. Here are just a few examples of brand materials that can be created with Canva:

  • Social Media
  • Event invitations
  • Infographic
  • Newsletters
  • Mockups
  • Silhouette images
  • Flyers
  • Presentations
  • Short Video

When should Adobe Creative Suite be used instead of Canva?

Canva is a great tool for quick-turn design, but Adobe Creative Suite is still the gold standard for skilled graphic designers. Here are some branded materials that should always be designed in Adobe.

  • Logos

    Trademarked logos must be original artwork, not copied from clip art.

  • Brochures

    Multi-page or double-spread layouts are best designed using InDesign to ensure proper margins, trim area, and typography layout.

  • Booth or Banner Design

    Branded booths can be created in InDesign or Illustrator and work best with layers in a layout template

  • Customized Photography

    Need to remove a person or item from a photo? Blending multiple photos? Canva does a great job of silhouetting an image or recoloring.

  • Videos

    Adobe Premiere or After Effects are great tools for animation and editing videos. 

  • Animations

    Canva can create simple transitions and basic animation. But Adobe Animate is a new tool for more complex animations for any platform. 

How to use Canva the right way.

Marketers with little design experience need a solution to remain on-brand in their promotional materials. And Canva can help in lots of ways. With a brand tool that allows users to upload a logo, specific colors, fonts, and commonly used graphics, marketers with little design experience are empowered to create branded materials. But using the correct brand fonts, colors, and logo isn’t enough for brand assets to remain “on-brand.” 

Despite the guidance of a pre-set template in Canva, a non-designer can still mess up a perfect layout. Logos become skewed or distorted. Too much text is incorporated. The sizing of the typography could be unbalanced. Photography may be sending the wrong message.

Not all marketers are trained in design principles. Graphic designers are trained to understand color theory, layout, typography, and image use. Designers understand the balance of information and design elements to help the audience engage with the material. 

The key to on-brand design is to follow approved brand guidelines – whether using Adobe Creative Suite or Canva. Brand guidelines should be created and used by any company with a logo. 

Here are some examples of how brand guidelines can help skilled and non-skilled designers stay on-brand.

Need help creating on-brand materials?

At Heart & Hustle Brands, we take the time to learn your brand personality to align with the brand style. From logo design to brand guidelines, we can help define your brand so that your audience recognizes your style with every impression.

Contact us for help with your brand design.