Canva is the design antichrist!

Before you read further please understand that the headline above is total clickbait. The article that follows outlines my position (as of Feb 2021) and it is pretty much the opposite of the headline. I think that Canva (Enterprise) is probably a godsend to anyone that cares about good design and brand consistency for Small-medium enterprises (SME) clients.

The background to this article is that the first people I have to convince of this are my own design team :-).

My argument is best laid out in a series of brief points.

Brands are important

This is not really in dispute.

Brands are required to create more design assets than ever before.

‘Print’ is not dead and in the day to day operations printed collateral and advertisements for magazines etc are still largely sent to a “professional designer” even by small businesses. This may not be an agency but even if it is the business owner’s niece or the local print and copy shop these types of projects are seen as needing the skills of someone who knows what they are doing.

Digital is where the real problem appears. If a business is doing any volume of social, email marketing or, web content creation the need for ads, web banners, posts, etc expands almost exponentially.

SME brands cannot afford agency prices for every piece of collateral.

Big brands can afford to spend big bucks on each single Facebook Post but not SME’s. Over the course of 12 months, their social media endeavours may return dividends but the reality is that on any given day of the week most of the digital assets needed must be done VERY cheaply.

It is this demand, not a desire to get rid of designers, that has driven the rise of the many tools (Canva is just one) that allow novice users to recycle images/fonts, etc to create what is essentially generic content to fill this void.

This is where the free version of Canva can certainly be critiqued. Endless design options in the hand of a non-designer is NOT going to end well for any brand that values quality and consistency in their output.

We can turn a blind eye or look for better tools

Designers often find themselves looking at a client’s social media accounts and digital marketing and wondering what happened to the lovely brand we created just a few short months earlier. It is often there but hard to find buried under layers of incorrect fonts and cheap stock imagery.

Some creative types rush to mock the poor client’s design skill and/or turn a blind eye but at VA we have decided to roll up our sleeves and look for ways to employ a designers eye, the rigor of maintaining a consistent style and at a scale where the day to day cost can be kept under control.

We care enough about great design to look for ways to ensure that even businesses with smaller budgets can have a clear path and tools to enjoy long term ROI on the brand that they have invested in.

Canva is worth a go

Canva Enterprise is an extension to the Free and Pro editions of Canva and they are built for agencies and franchisers.

The platform introduces brand kits (rules around colours, fonts etc) and access control /permissions to publishing designed assets from templated options. Access to stock libraries and other elements can also be limited to ensure that whoever is creating marketing assets has a “high likelihood” of maintaining the brand look and feel.

All things being equal even inside Canva elements created by a professional designer will likely be of a higher quality than those with an untrained eye but that is a false dichotomy. We are creating a system that can ensure that there is a “high likelihood” of creating material that is faithful to the brand. This is a toolset to help deliver day to day digital assets and is NOT a replacement for a skilled designer to create the brand in the first place and maintain it over time.

It is a given that we can’t/won’t have the option to design everything that an SME client needs. Therefore if we care about their brand and care about design in general then seeing a tool (Canva Enterprise) that can go a long way to solving this dilemma is a godsend not a thorn in our side.

When the time comes for a new brand, new websites, new fancy duplexed business card, annual reports and school yearbooks we can bring out the big guns.

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