Should my tech startup hire graphic designers or use Canva?
Canva, the popular design SaaS, reached a $15 billion valuation on April 6 2021, with the co-founders Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht becoming billionaires. Since its launch in 2013, Canva’s accessible graphic design software has become a staple for individuals and businesses alike.
Today, Canva has 55 million active users. With its drop and drag interface and template focused approach, Canva makes it quick and easy to produce social media graphics, presentations, invitations, GIFS, and much more. If it can be designed, Canva will help you do it, and in less than half an hour.
In comparison to traditional graphic design software, such as Adobe Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator, which requires a significant learning curve, a ton of desktop storage, and a hefty subscription fee, Canva is aimed at absolute beginners in every aspect.
“We’ve had a very strong focus on ensuring it’s accessible to everyone—regardless of your level of design experience, the language you speak, your income or the device you use,” Canva CEO and cofounder Perkins says. “So whether you’re a teacher, a student, an entrepreneur, a nonprofit organization or a Fortune 500 company, Canva gives everyone the ability to create beautiful designs and publish them anywhere.”
Canva’s free version includes more than two hundred and fifty thousand design templates and royalty free images, 5GB of cloud storage, and facilitates real time collaboration. If you want to fork out on the pro or enterprise plan, you’ll have access to your own tailored brand kits, as well as over seventy-five million stock photos, and the ability to schedule your social media posts directly from Canva.
This is essentially an all in one solution to visual branding. With all the tools you could need in one extremely-easy-to-use web browser, marketing teams are jumping on the opportunity to simplify their workflows.
This is particularly relevant for startups, who may not have the seed investment, funds or capacity to hire a graphic designer. With Canva, or a similar design SaaS (Easil and Crello are also great options), entrepreneurs can create logos and key brand assets without needing to have any experience or knowledge of design.
This accelerates the process of setting up a business and makes branding an easy step in the daunting path of a venture.
With Canva now serving huge corporations, including American Airlines and McKinsey, we need to ask whether these SaaS solutions have completely cut out the demand for graphic designers.
Many businesses who would have hired an in-house designer to produce social media graphics and collateral are now shifting these duties on to social media managers, who are using Canva templates. Creative professionals are losing out massively—as if it isn’t difficult enough for them already in such an oversaturated industry.
As a graphic designer myself, I think Canva is great, particularly for small businesses, but definitely not a replacement for human design expertise, especially when it comes to branding.
Where does this leave brand authenticity? With 55 million users also actively using Canva, your template graphics aren’t going to go unnoticed. Others will recognise the Canva stamp on your assets—believe me, their formula is unmistakable—and if they don’t, it’s because they don’t notice your graphics at all.
With so many businesses using the same templates, the designs no longer stand out.
This doesn’t matter so much for your wedding invitations or university society social media posts, but your business’ branding should be bold and different. More than anything, your brand should be recognisably associated with you, not millions of other posts or a well-known formula.
This is where a graphic designer comes in. With their expertise and talent, they can create a unique visual identity just for your business, including your logo, colour scheme, fonts, and other creative assets. Using this initial creative work, you can create future graphics on Canva and take advantage of its accessible interface. In fact, many graphic designers do use Canva to put together simple graphics, but they usually insert creative elements, such as logos or illustrations, made elsewhere. Canva simply does not facilitate the creative freedom for these elements.
In short, creating your brand from the ground up with Canva templates is really not a good idea. It is an excellent tool to create mock ups that you can give to your designer for inspiration, but not a final end. Don’t be complacent when it comes to branding.
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Header Image: Melanie Perkins, CEO of Canva, a top tech startup. Image via Web Summit and Flickr.