Cost-Saving with Canva: Is Creative Excellence the Sacrifice?

As budgets continue to be put under pressure, marketing is often the first victim of cuts. This is why platforms like Canva are growing in popularity as a great way to save costs, speed up delivery, and take (some of) the design process in-house.

As we’ve learnt, there are some things Canva does really well – but there are other things it simply cannot do.

Read on to discover 5 ways you can use Canva to bridge the gap between creative genius and cost-control.

3 minute read

23rd April 2024

Use Canva for what it does best

It’s perfect for marketing teams who wish to take advantage of the easy-to-use platform to bring some of the lighter-touch design work in-house – saving the big bucks for strategic campaigns and the kind of projects where you really do need the nous of an agency.

Here are 5 ways brands or marketing teams can leverage Canva for cost-efficient creative design:

  1. Rapid asset creation – Regular or repeatable marketing comms like social posts, email headers can be set up as templates quickly and easily. With a well-designed asset, marketers can make a simple headline change or swap in a new photo – then export a new social asset quickly and easily, maintaining a consistent brand look and feel across every platform and channel.
  2. Resize, reformat, reproduce  – Already got a social post graphic but need it in another format? Canva’s ‘Magic Switch’ automatically generates your design for any format. It may not be perfect, but for quick turnaround or lower priority comms, it’s a life-saver for marketing teams.
  3. Design once, translate many ways – Create a suite of approved master campaign assets, then hand over to local teams to flow in translated copy, export and launch in their markets. And not an agency in sight.
  4. Cut out the middle man – With simple text editing and easy image swaps, plus the ability to export multiple formats instantly, once your artwork is on Canva it can be picked up and tweaked by anyone on your team.
  5. A format for everything – Whether it’s a static post, a short video or a presentation deck, once your master template has been created, your whole team can edit it, review it, amend it and publish it. All in one platform.

Smarter ways of working for brand and marketing teams

Canva also offers some great tools to streamline, manage and deploy your brand assets:

  • Create brand kits (logos, fonts, colours, imagery, graphics) so everyone produces consistent, on-brand materials
  • Set-up approvals workflows to ensure the right people are looped in
  • Team folders provide access to everyone who needs to work on individual projects (and lock out those who don’t)
  • Different access levels mean people can be granted access to create, edit or review – or any combination of those
  • Locked brand elements – when creating designs or templates, you can ensure the important brand building blocks aren’t editable. No-one wants a stretched logo or the wrong colour in their designs.

All of these features and tools can help teams of every size maintain control, reduce out-costs and even cut out the agency middleman when creating high volume, low priority content.

What Canva doesn't do

All that said, Canva will never be as feature-rich as Adobe’s suite of retouching, layout and video editing apps, or offer the flexibility of dedicated digital design tools like Figma.

And, vitally, it will never replace a designer’s eye, a copywriter’s expert turn of phrase or a campaign planner’s meticulous research, strategy or insights.

With 1000’s of good looking free templates available to all, it’s tempting to dive in and use the out-of-the-box designs. Which is fine for smaller businesses. But big name brands often spend years building equity in their identities – so using generic off-the-shelf designs risks devaluing all that good work. Plus, you can guarantee you’re not going to be the only one who’s using those freebies.

Canva’s other built-in tools like logo creators and AI-generated presentation decks are also useful for start-ups and SMEs, but those jobs are generally better left to the professionals. You should also be aware (especially if you’re a big brand) that unless you create every element from scratch, Canva technically still owns the IP – especially if you’ve used graphics, imagery or elements from the available resources.

So, for most enterprise brands, using Canva out of the box to create designs from scratch simply won’t cut it.

Designers, take notes

We can agree that it’s a well-proven tool with (in the right place) plenty of benefits for brands. But designers also need to embrace the platform. At bbd, we’ve used it successfully to create templates and toolkits for a number of our clients. We've developed a suite of translatable Global campaign assets for Aruba, an organic careers and culture social post toolkit for Adevinta, and editable campaign animations and banners for Quintet Private Bank.

Don’t like the sound of learning yet another design tool? It’s pretty easy to use, being created for beginners. And with Canva, you can import your existing design file formats – Photoshop, Illustrator, PowerPoint, even PDFs – and Canva will convert them instantly into its own proprietary format. All ready for you to tweak your designs, whilst locking down those important elements so that your typography and white space is kept sacrosanct.

For all you graphic, digital and motion designers out there, we really do recommend dipping your toes into what’s possible on Canva. Because the likelihood is that your clients already have.

So don’t get left behind – Canva is ultimately just another tool in your design arsenal, and another value-added service you can provide for your clients.

Our final take on Canva – should you use it or not?

In short, yes. And this is not a sales pitch for Canva: It’s simply a CTA for working smarter.

Since its launch in 2013, Canva has slowly been expanding its feature set, and is now a fundamental part of many small to medium business’ marketing toolkits.

Yet over 10 years later, many brands and agencies (particularly designers) have been slow or even reluctant to embrace the platform and its possibilities.

We think they’re wrong, and here’s why:

Having Excel doesn’t make you a financial expert. Owning a shovel does not make you an expert horticulturalist. There are tools for specific jobs. Most people can and do ‘have a go’ with reasonable results. But as with anything, becoming expert, or even proficient takes time. And ultimately how well you can use a tool determines how good the outcome is.

In today’s challenging climate, brands are understandably keen to save money and take control of the design process. Leveraging in-house resources is one way to do that. Often, marketing comms and content (or more specifically, assets) need to be produced quickly, effectively and repeatably. When you have a high-quality starting point for your creative, this dream can become a reality.

So if you’re looking at ways of bringing more capabilities in-house, creating efficiencies, or you simply want to learn how to get the best out of Canva – book a strategy call and speak to one of our platform experts today.

Book a strategy call

Book a 30-minute call with one of our strategists to:

  • Discuss your goals and challenges
  • Get a fresh perspective on your marketing
  • Identify where you can increase marketing performance and ROI

You’ll get actionable advice to apply right away and the chance to see if we are the right kind of agency for you. No pressure, just insights.