Visual Content Lessons from Canva for WorkBy Laura Petrolino

Let’s get visual, visual…I wanna get visual…let me see your visual content rock, your visual content rock. Let me see your visual content rock.

Oh yes, yes, I did just make up this song about visual content to the melody of “Let’s Get Physical.”

(Side note: There are so many disturbing things about this music video, I don’t even know where to start.)

Why, may you ask, am I so excited about visual content right now?


I mean come on, you have seen the statistics—getting “visual” is an extremely effective tactic when it comes to content marketing

…not to mention the endless stats about the power of video.

And the great thing is visual content is no longer something reserved for brands with large budgets and on-call graphic designers.

  • YouTube democratized video;
  • Canva democratized digital images;

….and numerous other platforms help us edit, improve, and curate images to our heart’s desire.

And now, as most of you already know (and may already be using), there is Canva for Work.

(YAY, the crowd goes wild!)

Canva for Work: A Win for Visual Content

No doubt as it continues to roll out broadly many will do detailed reviews about Canva for Work as a platform, so I’m not going to spend a ton of time with my own review. Instead I want to look at what it can teach us about visual content overall.

Brand Consistency is Key

We all know branding is important. We all also know the reason we create a brand is so we can rely on it—and associated guidelines—consistently throughout every item the brand creates, both internally and externally.

This includes:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Social Media
  • Events
  • Promotional Materials
  • Video

…this list goes on.

Unfortunately, one of the main things which often happens when we “democratize” visual content and empower more members of an organization to create the visual content assets they need, is the consistency of the brand breaks down.

While there are some exceptions (such as memes and other fun social content), in general every piece of visual content created by your organization should be built upon the foundation of your brand and brand guidelines.

This means if there were no words and no logo on the image, someone vaguely familiar with your brand would still be able to connect the image back to you.

Canva for Work helps resolve this obstacle with what they call “Brand Kits.”

Your Brand Kit is a centralized place with your brand colors, logos, and fonts. Any updates changes, or additions to your brand can be placed here so anyone on your team who creates images maintains consistency.

Choose Your Own Adventure Image Resizing

Personally, one of the things that annoys me the most about visual content is image resizing.

Every freaking social media channel requires different sized images!

It makes me go insane and wastes endless time and energy. I’m pretty sure if Dante were in communications today, endless image resizing would be a task forced upon the inhabitants of the fifth circle of Hell.

And yet, it’s really important to maximize the effectiveness of your visual content.


Canva for Work allows you to quickly resize a design into all the formats you need with their “Magic Resize.” Create a design once, and optimize it for every need—every social media channel, blog, or other campaign collateral.

This also means anyone on your team can take an image already made and adjust it for their particular needs.

Which brings me to our next lesson…..

Collaboration Always Encourages Success

As you know, we believe in an integrated communications approach. This means there are no silos between media types on any of our client campaigns.

Everything and everyone must work together to ensure success.

We have a lot of project management and project flow systems in place to make sure each team member is fully aware of the operations and activities of other team members.

So, for example, if our earned media lead for a client is pitching a variety of publications or influencers on a subset of topics, you better believe our shared media lead is aware and responding accordingly through networking and relationship building on a social side, and our owned media lead is writing and optimizing content which clearly displays the angle of thought leadership being pitched.

Canva for Work has done a great job from a collaboration and integration standpoint. Because your team all has access to one account all visual assets easily exist in one place for other team members to use or adjust for their particular needs.

Not only does this aid efficiency and consistency, but it empowers every team member to make images as needed (vs. relying on a designer, or few specific people to handle all the image making). There is also the ability to add comments internally to aid workflow.

Think of it as Dropbox for all your visual assets.

If I Ruled the World

There are a few things I think are important for a platform like this that are missing. But these are really from an operations and project management standpoint vs. a visual content standpoint—and more specific to agencies.

From an agency perspective, the ability to house many different organization centers (complete with individual brand kits and files) on one account would be awesome. That way our team could log into one account and be able to switch back and forth seamlessly and quickly between client centers.

Right now if we want to use Canva for Work for multiple clients we need to set up a new account for each client.

Not only is that tedious, but it would start adding up cost-wise, having to pay for all team members.

Head of communications at Canva, Zach Kitschke says this is something they will eventually allow, but right now isn’t an option.

Along that same line of thinking, we also would love the ability to allow clients access to certain files, along with their brand kit. That would make it much more efficient from both sides and cut down a few steps in helping them quickly and easily find the visual content assets they need.

Let’s Get Visual

Visual content is here to stay, and it’s important for any communications pro to treat it like any other campaign or content type.

Canva for Work helps us focus in on some of the important aspects of visual content development. Whether you use the platform or not, the lessons it brings to the table are important ones to keep in mind it your own visual content development.

What obstacles do you find most daunting in creating effective visual content?

Cool image courtesy of Canva for Work

Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

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