No matter your field, your business likely needs to create promotional design material on a regular basis. It’s definitely advisable to hire wonderful graphic designers for your marketing strategy, and there are so many things a graphic designer can do that just can’t be done using a template tool like Canva.

For much of the promotional material your business needs to create, self-taught design tools make a lot of sense. Canva is a simple, drag and drop online tool that allows you (yes, you) to create custom graphics for marketing design. Thus, the tool is oft hailed as “Photoshop for Dummies.”

For most businesses, it is sensible to invest in a quality graphic designer in your community or network for the evergreen graphics you’ll use over and over. It also makes sense from a financial lens and a productivity lens to be sure someone on your team can quickly design promotional material for more straightforward marketing material like blog graphics, social media headers and photos, et cetera.

Your business might want to create custom flyers, graphics for social media and email marketing, or graphics for your website. It definitely pays to be sure someone on your team can design promotional material with attention to a few simple rules that will help your designs to reflect your brand consistently.

If you find the prospect of marketing design intimidating or undesirable, one other avenue you could choose is to hire a graphic designer or social media manager to help you create a bunch of Canva templates tailored to represent your brand. Then all you have to do is modify content, rather than focusing on design.

If you do choose to give simple design a whirl, read on for Bright Planning’s tips for designing in Canva.

Tip #1: Choose Your Palettes And Typefaces, Then Stick With Them

The first and biggest mistake new designers make: loading their designs with different typefaces and hapless color choices, rendering the material instantly more chaotic and confusing for the potential customer. Remember, you only have about 8 seconds to capture their attention- but that’s not a license to overload their senses in an attempt to draw them in. If you haven’t created a brand style guide to go with your marketing strategy yet, now is a good time to make one!

Explore the “My Brand” section of Canva with the goal of getting to know different color and typeface options. If you have worked with a graphic designer to develop a brand color palette, draw on that to make the same (or very similar) color choices in Canva. You can also load your logo into a tool like Color Code Picker, and then get the specific HEX color codes to make your Canva color palette.

Once you’ve spent some time with your options, choose your typefaces and color palettes and set those up in the “My Brand” section of Canva. It can be easy to get bogged down in the minutia in the design process, so remember that simplicity is key.

With an emphasis on simplicity, is totally possible for you to find an efficient method of designing polished, on-point marketing material on behalf of your business.

Tip #2: Copy, Copy, Copy

How can you be sure that your graphics have consistency from design to design? We like to work by creating one initial template design, working out all the kinks, and then creating copies to fill with other text and images.

If you create copies of your initial design, you don’t have to worry if that pesky little line is in the exact same spot from design to design. You know all your elements are in place, and you can focus on filling your designs with relevant, useful content for your customers.

Remember, every successful marketing strategy depends on consistency.

Your goal in creating your own promotional material is to set up designs and systems that help you publish relevant, on-point content on a regular basis.

Trust us: you do not want to get bogged down in moving lines two pixels to the right and left for two hours. Leave the detail work to your graphic designer and use Canva to make your life easier and more efficient. Create simple, on-brand design series which can easily support fresh and repurposed content on a regular basis.

Tip #3: Make Sure Your Text & Graphics Have Enough Contrast

The Canva cat is out of the bag, and a whole lot of businesses are using Canva to design marketing material. Because Canva is becoming so popular, the mistakes people make while designing in Canva are easily observable: they are littered throughout our social media feeds every day.

The single most ubiquitous mistake of new Canva designers: choosing a busy photo and then slapping their message on top of the photo in a lightweight text. If bits of your text are disappearing into photos in your Canva designs, you need to focus on creating contrast so your readers can actually read your message.

We darkened this bicycle photo the make the white text more readable and bold.  We darkened this bicycle photo the make the white text more readable and bold.

Options for creating contrast in Canva: apply a filter to the photo, mess with the transparency of the photo, make the text bolder, darker or lighter (depending on the photo in question). The “shapes” tool is super useful as well: just drag a shape over the photo, adjust the transparency, color and placement, and then write your text over the shape so the message is readable.

Though this rule seems simple, we cannot count the amount of succulent stock photos overlaid with inspirational quotes in a thin, barely readable white text in our Facebook feeds. Remember: if you’re sending words out to your people, your #1 priority should be that your customers can actually read the message.