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Craft your design with Canva.com. Part 1

The design is an essential part of any brand communication. Whether it’s social media or offline communication — it has to reflect the style and the class of the company. Being a designer myself, I do not try to teach the non-designers how to produce a design in easy ways. Let’s be honest; the great design has to be developed by professionals and experts always charge a good price for it. So, what is the solution for those who don’t want to break the bank, but yet need to build the business. Here are some options.

Years ago, the demand for the good design was fulfilled by the company called Canva.com. This site was founded in 2012 in Sydney, Australia by Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht, and Cameron Adams. It has already helped millions of entrepreneurs to communicate with their customers with the best quality designs.

Personally, I use Photoshop and some other professional software for work, but believe it or not, I have started using Canva.com for social media projects. The interesting feature of this site is that you can get your designs anywhere in the world, anytime — day or night. It obviously has its advantages and disadvantages, but what is perfect?

So, let’s see how to design for your brand for free (by the way, Canva also has pro version)

The first mistake the new designers make is that they change the template or take the template which looks very different than what they want to create. Believe it or not, but designs provided by Canva are not just indicative, they are your map. If you are not familiar with typography, follow the template to a ‘T’, and you will get better results.

If you want to know more about typography, check this site 

The second issue which I noticed is that many freshers change the colours dramatically. Well, I totally understand that the colours of your brand might be different, but when you change bright pink to dark, dull green, it transforms into a different design (perhaps not that good looking like a template).

Third point, the choice of photography. Canva gives the option to buy the pictures from their library for something like one or two bucks. You may also find the photo in free photo libraries like unsplash.com. But please notice the treatment applied to the image by the template. And if it is a dark and blurred image, let it remain dark and blurred.

You may say, but where is creativity? Let me tell you, see, a commercial design is not always about colours, pics, and fonts. But it’s constantly about its ability to sell. So there is nothing wrong in taking professional template as a solid direction for your branded design.

Here is another food for thought. If you are new to the design processes, you probably need to learn a little bit. Hope you agree with it. So, consider that every template you use, it’s your homework in art school. Follow every direction thoughtfully, analyse why the creators of the template choose these colours, fonts, and photo. And believe me, if you were a good student, in a year or two, your designs would look much better.

Check this little overview:

Cheers 🙂

How design and photography work for your brand

I’ve been working in the advertising industry for many years. Once upon a time, I was a designer and it was a tough job. But life changed, and if you need to create a design for your online communication today, you can make pretty good artwork on your own. Here are some ideas how.

Part 1. Less is bliss.

The better design — the lesser the unnecessary elements it has. Remove all redundant components and keep only indispensable ones to achieve perfection.

  • Less means — readable fonts, it is better to use professional fonts (check some here)
  • Less means — enough of breathing space around the elements of your design, also, it makes the design look more expensive. (Check Apple Ads)
  • If you are not trained to design professionally, NEVER use this: gold decorations, free unreadable fancy fonts, and acid-bright gradients (unless you sell golden toilets to Russian oligarchs)

Part 2. To Know or not know the software.

Some people think that the software knowledge miraculously transforms them into designers. Wrong! If you just know Corel Draw or Photoshop you are not a designer yet, you are a person who knows Corel Draw or Photoshop.

The software is a tool. You have to know it without a doubt. But artistic taste, composition, understanding of colour, broad knowledge of typography, drawing skills, and many other artistries are more important then new devices and programmes.

Hint: Think with a pencil in the hand!

Part 3. Photography and design.

If you add a logo to the photo, it’s already a design attempt and it brings more information to the customer than a just photo or a logo itself.

  • If your message is more important than the photo, check out the balance between both. Buyer’s attention has to be on the headline, message or call to action.
  • If you plan the photo shoot, check out if you leave enough of space for the text in you photographs. Plan it in advance. (Check how to plan photoshoot)
  • Click some backgrounds on location to add text over them later. Let them not be too cluttered. You can click interiors, landscape, textures and many other things to use them as backgrounds in the future projects. Try to keep in mind what type of business you advertise; it may give an idea which textures you may need, or what backgrounds will correspond with your concept more.
  • Always remember the difference between commercial and editorial photography. While one product on a white base with little text may sell the phone, it won’t show the story behind. If you need a story, the creatives have to tell it.

Social media platforms and print media may be suitable for different type of design and photography. Do your research to find out which pictures will engage your audience better and on which platform to place them.

Part 4. Design as it is.

Many times you may like to use the design without any photography. And when you start to create your brand, it’s great to know how it will work via pure design; how it will work via pure photography; or how it will manifest itself via a combination of design + photography.

  • The pure design aesthetic requires a clearer font solutions, careful colour choices and supporting elements such as icons.
  • Even if we add an elaborate illustration or infographic to it, the brand message and style still have to be delivered to a consumer.

Part 5. Easy templates.

With easy technology in hands nowadays, more people can create good looking compositions. Use canva.com or fotor.com both of these online designing and editing sites will help the beginners via sets of fantastic templates and predesigned elements. Both sites have some advantages and disadvantages, so try them and choose one which you appreciate more.

  • If you want to create decent creatives, follow the template to a T. If you see four letters in the template word — use a four-letter word. If they use some font, do not change it. If they use those colours, it’s probably on purpose.
  • Eventually, you will be able to create similar designs on your own. But it will require some time, learning and practice.
  • Both sites are amazing platforms to hone your creative skills and give a real push to your Social media.

In conclusion

Design and photography are the versatile elements of visual communication. They can work independently or in combination. The illustrations, icons, fonts and other components have to be used in moderation to crave the ideal brand message for people who are going to buy your product.

P.S. Read more about design and photography in my new book “Good photo = good brand”. Cheers 🙂

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