Why I Changed My Mind About Canva For Work

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post titled, “Why I Won’t Be Using Canva For Work.”

I had waited with bated breath for the release of Canva For Work. I loved Canva’s easy to use interface, 60 second templates, and accessible price tag (free for the basic version). Upload your own images and you don’t pay a dime to make beautiful graphics for your blog, social media accounts, or print projects. For years, I’ve loved sending clients who are “design phobic” to Canva because it’s easy enough for a toddler to use and takes the guess work out of image dimensions for nearly every platform under the sun.

So, when Canva announced they were launching Canva For Work, where you can put all your design assets in one place and create templates for your team and clients, I leapt for joy. “This will make it easier for me to share my clients’ fonts, colors, logos, and important design assets in one place without the need for Adobe!” I thought.

Alas, I was wrong. My Canva For Work dreams were dashed against the rock of DIY reality.

Sure, in its first release, Canva For Work made it easy to create templates for your biz and you could add your logo and brand colors in a snap. But it all fell apart when it came to fonts. Unless your brand fonts were part of Canva’s selection of Google fonts, you were just outta luck!

Now, I love free fonts as much as the next person, but what I don’t love is seeing the same handful of scripts and serifs everywhere I go. (It’s how I broke up with Sacramento, Dancing Script, and Satisfy.) The trouble with Canva is that now that it’s become so widely used, it’s hard to apply their built in fonts and still maintain a distinct brand image. If every coach in the world is using Satisfy as their go to script font and you decide to use Satisfy for your coaching brand, then your graphics are going to look like…yup, every coach in the world!

So, I was eagerly awaiting the release of Canva For Work because I assumed it meant I could also import custom fonts, allowing me to help my clients maintain a cohesive and unique visual brand. Alas, I was oh so wrong. No custom fonts in the original CFW release.

I furiously penned a blog post (the only “Don’t buy this!” blog I’ve ever written) to warn the world that CFW and its built in font collection was not to be trusted. I wept, listened to sad songs, wrote a few poems about typography and then moved on with my life.

But the font gods heard my plea and, sometime between then and now (while I was clearly living under a rock), Canva For Work introduced the ability to upload your own custom fonts.

So I’m furiously penning this blog post today to say, “I was wrong about you, Canva For Work. Can you ever forgive me?”

They say people don’t change, but thankfully DIY design tools do.

After the rocky start, Canva For Work turned out to be (almost) everything I dreamed it could be.

While it can’t replace tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, Canva For Work makes it possible for small businesses on a budget to put their style guides to good use. Easily create a library of uniquely branded layouts you can use again and again to create new designs that look amazing, without having a full time designer on staff.

The trick to using Canva For Work like a pro is to make it look like you’re not using Canva.

This is why, before custom fonts came into the picture, Canva’s built in font library bothered me so much. It’s not that these fonts are bad; Canva made great choices. But that’s just the thing – Canva’s templates and built in font combinations weren’t chosen for you, they were chosen for the Everybusiness. When I see an unmodified Canva template wild on the web, the brand using it becomes indistinguishable to me from every other business using that same layout, color palette, and fonts.

A strong visual brand identity sets you apart from the crowd. Now you can achieve that, without taking night classes on Photoshop.

But, aren’t I worried that tools like Canva For Work will make a designer like me irrelevant? Not at all. Canva For Work gives me confidence that my clients can take the visual brand identity my team and I create for them and run with it. At the end of a design project, I can create a collection of brand templates for my client in their Canva For Work dashboard, with their logos, fonts, and colors all within easy reach. No mess, no fuss, no guesswork.

After I work with a client to design a new brand and website, their design needs don’t stop. There will always be Instagram posts to make, newsletters to send, events to promote, eBooks to sell. Most small businesses don’t want to have to call a designer every time they need a new graphic. And, for the design phobic amongst us, a style guide on its own can be confusing. When I set up a client’s account in Canva For Work and create templates for them to get started, this brings their style guides to life, giving them practical examples of how to use their brand assets.

The best part? Canva For Work’s magic resize tool, that allows you to quickly adapt your images to different dimensions, depending on the platform where its destined. Just make a badass Facebook graphic? You can easily convert it to the perfect size for Instagram. I know, when I’m creating templates for clients in Canva For Work, that they can quickly and easily make them any size they want, saving time and money.

I’m not ashamed to admit that after making up with Canva For Work, I created my own library of templates to use for RKA ink. It’s just too quick and easy to resist. Sure, I still use Adobe tools for those heavy lifting design tasks like designing logos or websites, but when I want to whip up an Insta graphic in two minutes, I head to Canva For Work. This gorgeous lil’ library you see below wouldn’t be possible without the ability to add my own custom fonts!

Canva For Work Brand Templates for RKA ink

We’ve had a rough relationship, but Canva For Work has won me back. If you’re looking for a design tool that will help you maintain a cohesive, unique visual brand — without the Adobe price tag or learning curve — give it a spin. 

Rachael Kay Albers

Rachael Kay Albers is a creative director, business comedian, and brand strategist gone wild. She writes and performs about branding, pop culture, tech, and identity. When she’s not muckraking about marketing, Rachael runs RKA ink, a reinvention studio and branding agency for businesses that burn the rulebook. She's also on Instagram a lot.