Updated: Dec 22, 2022
Canva is a staple in the Small Business arsenal when it comes to creating a brand design. However it is and must only be a temporary solution.
Okay, so I will freely admit that I don't use Canva all that often; as a Brand Designer I have industry standard software that gives me much more flexibility (and buttons) to create artwork. However a recent conversation with a client highlighted a really important area of Canva which I am sure many of you have missed.
Renting not Owning
Ultimately the one thing that you need to remember when using Canva is you are renting the use of Canva's Intellectual Property (and its affiliates); regardless of whether you are are on the paid or pro version. And, just like renting a house it comes with limitations:
In a rental you may be given permission to paint the walls in a colour of your choice, but as long as you put it back to its original colour when you hand back the keys.
In Canva you can use their designs, illustrations, icons, background designs and images so long as you adhere to their terms and conditions. And if you haven't read their T&Cs you might want to have a quick look over them.
It's a bit Grey
Like anything legal Canva's terms and conditions aren't exactly an engaging read, and there is a lot of grey areas which I assume Canva will use to their own requirements. However, in their Content License Agreement I strongly suggest that you at least read section 5A and section 9 Point 2.
For those who (still) can't be bothered reading them, section 5A refers to their being a restriction of image size on all Pro content to 480,000 pixels. That ultimately means that any pro content has to be smaller than a standard Instagram post (which is 1,116,400 pixels).
In section 9 point 2 it states that you cannot use their content (regardless of whether you have a free or pro licence) "...as part of a trade-mark, design-mark, trade-name, business name or service mark (excluding fonts);" Basically, you can't use their content in a logo.
So why am I highlighting this?
Because I have seen so many business breach both of these terms on multiple occasions.
Am I going to get sued?!
If this sudden revelation has got you breathing into a paper bag please don't. In my (very non-legal opinion) I doubt that Canva is going to chase all the small businesses that breach their terms and conditions.
However it is something to keep in mind.
Earlier today I saw someone proudly announcing that they didn't need to pay for branding services because they had created their entire brand in Canva - and whilst this has saved them money for now, think of the impact if Canva decided to send you a cease and desist.
All of your visual brand would need to be removed from everywhere, immediately.
Invest in Branding
Of course I am going to say this: but it is so incredibly important to invest in an original brand of your own.
If you are just starting out then yes, use Canva to have some visual presence (adhering to all terms and conditions at the same time!). But when you are more established you need to start looking into creating a unique brand of your own.
And like buying your first house, yes it will be an investment (fyi I do payment plans with my Full Branding Package). But for me, I would rather be safe in the knowledge that the visual part of my brand is mine.