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How to get the most out of Canva and other DIY marketing tools.

Today I am going to talk about Canva. Canva launched in 2013, as an online design and publishing tool with a mission to empower everyone in the world to design and publish anything anywhere. As of 2021 it is the most widely used publishing tool for small to mid- sized businesses who use DIY marketing.

Let me start by saying, my intention here is NOT to bash Canva. It's a brilliant, easily accessible tool that allows anyone to produce and publish content either online or in print using their intuitive drag and drop interface for little to no cost. My goal here is to get you to understand what they offer, the risks involved when using them, and to get you thinking about your relationship with them in a different way.

I believe the single largest problem that continues to hinder businesses in their attempt at marketing, is the fact that DIY marketing platforms like Canva make marketing look so easy. So businesses jump on and rush to market — before they actually have all the right tools.

What ends up happening is that instead of creating unique and compelling brand experiences with concepts that connect with the target audience, they end up hurting their brand.

I'm not saying Canvas is trying to fool or hurt anyone’s business.

Just look at their ad.

Their tagline clearly says exactly that they offer a tool for businesses,“Online Design Made Easy”, and although that might seem like a dream come true to small to mid-size businesses looking to cut costs, as with any design tool, it’s only as good as the content you put into them.

The catch here is to make sure you’re using them effectively for your brand. To effectively market your business, you need to understand what marketing is and what it isn't. Because they are not the same thing.

Branding is who you are. Marketing is how you build awareness.

It's essential to clearly define who you are as a brand, who your customers are—and what they need, before you begin using any marketing tools. Otherwise you run the risk of looking and sounding just like "everyone in the world" who is marketing through Canva or another DIY platform.

If you're using Canva or another platform as a tool to design your marketing collateral, I’m not telling you to stop using them entirely.

I’m asking you this.

“If your business name or logo wasn’t there, would people know it was you?”

If the answer is ‘no’, then your branding isn’t working hard enough for you. And if your branding isn’t working hard enough for you, it's because you haven't embedded strategy into every single piece of your content.


Branding is not just about having a great logo, slogan, and design theme.

Branding is all about connecting with your audience. All it takes is a little discovery (brand strategy) to see who you are, what makes you tick, what inspires your business, and why it matters.

Brand strategy separates you from your competition (because it’s a direct reflection of who you are and why it matters). No matter how good you are, branding can make you better.

Branding is a shortcut to connecting. Your brand strategy shapes perception and can turn searchers into loyal customers. It creates an emotional connection between you and your customers that lasts longer and goes deeper than any marketing promotion ever will.

Customers are 3 times more likely to purchase and recommend your product or service if they have an emotional connection with your brand. And these days, that emotional connection is more important than ever.

Although I don’t believe that every brand needs to be loved, neglecting emotional value might cause more harm than good. And eventually, even leave your businesses vulnerable to external threats.

A brand strategy hones in on your unique value — then it uses your UVP to determine how to share that through design. Having a brand strategy sets the foundation to design with meaning to gain a competitive advantage.

Your branding and crucial assets like Brand Identity need to be designed with brand strategy first because there’s a lot of nuanced non-verbal communication that goes into creating a brand that not only builds a connection to your target audience but is creates memorable marketing for all the right reasons, so I encourage you to get a branding expert as quickly as possible.

How a Brand Strategist | Designer can help you:


The first step in building a brand that creates an emotional connection is understanding your customer and what their triggers might be.

When developing your customer persona, we identify:

  • Pain Points

  • Anxieties

  • Motivation

  • Desire

We do this so that we can build an emotional connection with customers by truly focusing on what they want, and what their desires are — rather than just the service or product itself. It’s usually with anxieties and desires where the opportunity to create an emotional connection exists. Once anxieties and desires are identified, the creative work will be developed and aligned to that.


Consumers are smart. It is easy to tell the difference between professional branding versus a brand that keeps pivoting its messaging strategy in hopes of connecting with its target market.

If you are going to be sending out marketing, you need to be strategic about the message you want to send. You can throw all the facts, logic, and features you want at your consumers, but it will ultimately be an emotion that drives their decisions.

As Brand Strategists | Designers we know how to appeal to consumers both intellectually and emotionally when creating your brand strategy. When your brand strategy is woven into the narrative, it creates a seamless blend of insightful strategy, bold creativity and great copy. Delivering exactly what your audience needs, like no other, so you stand out from everyone else.


Why is that word repeated so much? It’s because inconsistent content does more damage than you think. When your content isn’t consistent, you confuse your audience and present your brand in a negative way. You can try and tell yourself that’s not going to happen- but it does— every time.

We build stronger emotional connections through consistent visual design. Your brand image plays perhaps the most important role in how potential clients/customers perceive your brand. It encompasses everything from the colors in your logo to the imagery in your marketing materials. It’s crucial that you stay consistent in your imagery so that people think of you when they see it. Having a Brand Strategist | Designer to create your brand identity and secondary graphics will give you those tools.

It takes 5 to 7 interactions for someone to connect your brand when they initially see it.

If your brand looks and sounds different every time, that number is only going to increase.

Familiarity and emotional connection to a brand create trust and trust…and you know how hard and valuable that is to gain today. Therefore it is crucial that your brand strategy is embedded in all your branded content and graphics across different platforms, so that you can build up awareness, recognition, and loyalty in a smooth, clear manner.

Last but not least ...BRANDING IS NOT A PROJECT

It takes resources to build and develop a meaningful brand, but it’s hard to hold a place in a potential customer’s mind these days without it.

DIY marketing platforms are only as good as the content you put into them. The remarkable thing is, once you invest in your branding, you’ll find that you can be much more focused and create much more effective marketing.

I hope after reading this you will rethink how you are using these platforms to get the most out of Canva and other DIY marketing tools so you don't end up wasting a lot of time, effort, or worse hurting your brand.

I'm sorry I can not give you more concrete steps, but here’s the thing: Sometimes we need an expert to come in and give us the clarity to not only see the problem but give us the solution;

That’s where I come in!

I would be more than happy to have a look at what you're doing and have a chat to find out if your brand is really out there— WORKING FOR YOU!


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