The entrepreneur's ultimate guide to Canva, the hot marketing app you'll need to sharpen your brand and win more customers in 2020

  • Bootstrapping your business often means you do a lot yourself and some of the most invaluable tools are those that make your daily to-do lists easier.
  • Business owners said Canva is one of the most useful tools for creating branded materials and marketing content.
  • Canva is a free, online graphic-design program and mobile app that helps you create and customize documents using templates, text, photos, and graphics. 
  • We broke down Canva’s most useful basic and paid features, like finding font combinations and making a brand kit. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime content.

Bootstrapping your business often means you do a lot yourself. In addition to being owner and founder, you might be CEO, in-house PR, social media manager, accountant, customer service, logistics manager, HR department, and everything in between. 

Some of the most invaluable tools for your business are those that ease all these daily responsibilities, especially when you don’t yet have the resources to hire many employees or outsource to contractors.

When Business Insider asked business owners what tools help them create branded materials and marketing content, one name kept coming up: Canva. 

Canva is a free and subscription-based, online graphic-design program and mobile app that was cofounded by Cliff Obrecht, now CEO Melanie Perkins, and Cameron Adams in 2012. The company has a $3.2 billion valuation, and the program is used by 20 million people every month, with users from most Fortune 500 companies, Canva told Business Insider.


Matthew Cummings, the owner of Pretentious Glass Co. and Pretentious Beer Co., a taproom and beer brewery in Knoxville, Tennessee, told Business Insider that designing his own content on an as-needed basis has been a challenge of bootstrapping. 

“Over the course of seven years, there are a lot of things that don’t quite meld together,” he said. 

He plans to roll out his own brand kit with Canva to create a more unified style across all of his marketing materials. “I am personally psyched to walk through all my imagery with a professional crew and hone our voice, improve the graphics, and really embody what our unique personality is like on a design front,” he said.

Here are the features Canva offers to make professional branding and documents, whether you’re a team of one or 100. 

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Canva has pre-designed templates and layouts to create almost any type of document.

Canva has pre-designed templates for a variety of documents, from logos and hang-tags, to social media posts, and presentations. You can customize the templates or make your own with drag-and-drop text, photos, and graphics. 

For example, a mobile-first pitch deck template has the pages you need to present your business plan.

Brittany Rhodes is the founder of BlackGirl MATHgic, a monthly, educational subscription-box she designed to help girls in 3rd through 8th grade gain confidence in their math skills. Rhodes, who is based in Detroit, Michigan, started her business earlier this year, so she’s the one making the boxes and shipping them out. 

Rhodes hired a graphic designer to create her logo and the stickers she includes in every box, but for everything else, she uses Canva. Each month she has a different theme to apply math concepts to the real world. Using Canva, she designs math activity booklets, affirmation cards, and profiles of women applying math in their careers. “I have no graphic design skills whatsoever, but thanks to Canva, I do,” she said. 

Templates have the exact dimensions you need for thumbnails, posts, stories, and banners on each social media platform.

Canva frequently adds new designs so you’ll have fresh options to choose from throughout the year.

Cummings said that his team uses Canva’s trending templates to enhance the high-quality photos they take with a Sony a6000 camera macro-lens. “We look for designs that can incorporate our photos that we work so hard towards. [We] mainly [use] designs that have room for a photo’s focal point with minimal text,” he said.

You can add your own text and photos into the templates.

All the functions of Canva’s editor are clearly labeled and searchable.

Canva can suggest font combinations that are visually appealing and thematic.

The color wheel tool helps you choose colors and further develop your brand’s style.

The color-palette generator tool pulls five colors from an image you upload that you can use in your designs.

There’s also a library of color palettes that you can search by color, theme, and keywords.

For small teams, a Canva pro account gives you access to more templates and customization.

A pro account, which starts at $9.95 per user per month, gives you access to more templates, customization, and a brand kit that synchronizes your logo, color scheme, fonts, and design style to all of your documents. This option is best for a business owner making most of the creative elements themselves, or who has a couple employees jumping in. (See all pricing here.)

Canva pro allows you to invite unlimited team members to collaborate on your designs.

With Canva pro, you can create a brand kit to establish a logo, color scheme, and fonts that sync across your documents.

Cummings said his new brand kit will add “more refinement and specificity” to his company’s voice. 

One button quickly applies your brand kit settings to pieces you’re working on.

Logo templates are categorized by industry, so you can find styles that suit your brand.

Canva integrates with apps like Google Drive, Instagram, and Slack to easily post your designs and share them with team members.

You can use Canva’s print service to order custom business cards, t-shirts, posters, and more.

For larger businesses, Canva offers enterprise accounts to help manage teams and organize projects.

For larger businesses with more than five team members, Canva offers enterprise accounts, starting at $30 per user per month. This option allows easier collaboration between team members, more storage, and advanced security and support. (See all pricing here.)

Canva also has a photo-editing app that can fine-tune, resize, and enhance your photos.

Canva is also available as an app on iPhone and iPad so you can edit on the go.

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