How to Use Canva

How to use Canva to create branded images in less than an hour

7 min read
Maddy Osman

I do social media marketing for a number of clients, but have sometimes had trouble doing it for my own business brand. As someone who runs a marketing company, this isn’t ideal. “Treat yourself as a client” is a mantra that many hear echoing in the back of their heads, yet fail to adequately act on. And acting, for me, meant learning how to use Canva.

I did because the best way to make sure that something actually gets accomplished is to create systems and processes that make doing it a no-brainer. For me, this involves creating content based on predefined social themes and easily customizable branded image templates.

Creating social media themes

It starts with the what. Specifically, what should you post about?

We can use my own social media efforts as an example (and will throughout the post). Like many of the readers of the GoDaddy Garage Blog, I provide technical services to clients. Here are the social media themes I use to both communicate my expertise and to drive awareness for the services I provide:

Branded quotes from industry thought leaders to spark discussion

How to Use Canva Thought Leaders

Testimonials from happy clients to demonstrate effectiveness

How to Use Canva Testimonials

Branded industry tips to get people thinking about hiring me to help them

How to Use Canva Industry Tips

I also draw on learning how to use Canvas in order to showcase industry articles I’m reading (to show I stay current while also helping my audience learn something new). Additional social media themes to consider to keep your content fresh include:

  • Chime in on something relating to popular culture (you can look at trending topics or the National Days Calendar for ideas)
  • Share something about your local community
  • Ask a question people can’t help but answer
  • Give a look behind the scenes into your day-to-day
  • Make a bold statement and invite discussion

Creating branded image templates is a great way to get your business — and any important or thought-provoking information you provide — in front of your audience.

Why create branded image templates for social media?

Visuals are an important aspect of social media marketing that should be more than an afterthought. The temptation is to use royalty-free stock photos, but that’s what everyone’s doing. It’s easy to recognize stock photos that get used commonly, and honestly? Kind of a turn off.

Branded images help your posts stand out.

The goal is to create shareable content, and including elements of branding makes it easier for people to find you if your image grows wings and gets shared from accounts other than yours. By creating templates for the common branded images you’ll need (based on the social themes you’ve already decided on), you’ll make the process of social content creation a lot easier.

Though your branded image templates should reflect your company’s branding, here are some essential elements to consider when first making them:

  • An on-brand background image (solid colors are boring)
  • Heading in a font that matches your brand’s style guide
  • Room for one or two lines of text (with an on-brand font)
  • The URL of your website/company Twitter handle
  • The option to add people’s images (for quotes or testimonials)

By now, you might be starting to visualize what your branded image templates might look like. The easiest way to reach a final product you love is by playing around with a user-friendly graphic editor. It’s time to learn how to use Canva.

Why learn how to use Canva?

How to Use Canva Branded Images

While many reading this blog might consider themselves web designers, there’s a smaller percentage of readers who would also say they’re completely competent with graphic design tools like Photoshop. I’m one of these people. I understand all the basics, but have never felt competent in advanced Photoshop use cases.

In essence, Canva is similar but very different than Photoshop. For those who don’t understand Photoshop, all the available options can be distracting. Learning how to use Canva offers an experience that’s a bit more user-friendly for the uninitiated.

Canva is the ideal option for the person who doesn't want to learn the complete in’s and out’s of a powerful software tool. It offers the bare bones and then some, without needing courses or certification programs to get the most out of it.

But that’s not all.

Learning how to use Canva makes it really easy to create a branded image template for social that can be shared with team members for collaboration purposes.

How to use Canva to create branded images

Once you figure out how to use Canva, designing anything is fairly straightforward. Here’s the process I use for creating branded images.

  1. Decide what templates to create.

  2. Set the dimensions.

  3. Set a background image.

  4. Create your title.

  5. Create your dummy copy.

  6. Create a footer.

  7. Add extras.

  8. Save as .PNG.

  9. Share with your team.

  10. Repeat with new information weekly.

Designing your template on a program like Canva means that you can be consistent and create great on-brand images without spending a lot of time on the process. Read on to learn how.

1. Decide what templates to create

The good news? You’ve already done this! Once you’ve decided on your social media themes, you know exactly what to make. For reference, I have templates for quote posts, testimonials, and branded industry tips.

How to Use Canva Templates

2. Set the dimensions

You have two options: set your own dimensions or choose from Canva’s existing social media templates. If you’re primarily posting on one platform, use that platform’s guidance to set your dimensions.

How To Use Canva Dimensions

3. Set a background image

How to Use Canva Background Image

This will largely depend on your brand and image assets. For my brand, The Blogsmith, I use background images that started as photography from my travels, and more specifically, street art.

Canva also offers some textures and patterns to add more dimension than a solid color background.

How to Use Canva Textures

4. Create your title

How to Use Canva Title

Match the font of the image’s title/heading to that of your existing branding. It’s at this point that I also create a transparent box that will hold the text and give it enough contrast to be easily read.

5. Create your dummy copy

How to Use Canva Dummy Copy

Add some lorem ipsum text (or the content for your first branded image post) in a font that matches your company’s website body text branding. Note all Canva’s tools for formatting text, including font choice, size, text decorations, spacing and alignment.

How to Use Canva Footer

At the bottom of your branded image template, create space to share your company’s URL and Twitter handle. I usually do this by adding a rectangle that spans the length of the image in an on-brand color (and contrasting text). For this particular image, I tried to match the bottom rectangle with the dominant color in my background image.

7. Add extras

For testimonial posts, I like to add in the person’s picture. This adds more depth — and credibility — to the post. Go to Elements, and then select Frames to find different options for including images within your design.

How to Use Canva Frames

8. Save as a .PNG

How to Use Canva PNG

Sometimes, Canva saves stuff weird. Save your social images in .PNG format and double-check the file before uploading!

9. Share with your team

How to Use Canva Sharing

Canva offers a premium business account feature, but you can share designs with a limited number of team members for free. This is the ideal use scenario for someone who outsources social media content creation, but wants to provide image creation guidance.

10. Repeat with new information weekly

The whole process can honestly take seconds if you line up information with respect to your themes before attempting image creation. By the time you go into your files on Canva, the hard part is over, since you’ve already created your templates. Now, all you have to do is fill them in with this week’s information!

Thanks to the straightforward nature of Canva, creating beautiful on-brand images for your company’s social media channels can take only minutes each week, after a small investment of time creating templates.