Creating social media graphics with Canva
Creating social media graphics with Canva

Creating social media graphics with Canva

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Written by: Jim Wrubel Published on: @February 1, 2023 Last updated: @February 1, 2023

Tools Used In This Recipe

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Searchable List of Tools, References, and Best Practices

If your startup leverages social media you’ve probably discovered that keeping up a regular post schedule is a full time job, and social media requires a lot of visual content. Canva is a platform that can help you solve that problem (along with dozens of other startup challenges), and the free tier provides a tremendous amount of value (although at $120 per year the paid tier is absolutely worthwhile).

Before you begin

In this Recipe we’ll use Canva to create an attractive and eye-catching graphic for a very common use case - a Happy New Year Instagram post. While this is a simple scenario it will give you an idea of what Canva can do and serve as a guide for your other social media content generation requirements.

In this Recipe we’ll use the Pro (paid) tier of Canva because it allows you to use your brand elements in the media you create. This will ensure that your social media content all uses the same colors and fonts, and that your logo is included in your posts. Before we generate the post well walk through setting up your brand kit on Canva.

Get started by logging in or setting up and account, and signing up for the Pro plan if you don’t already have it set up. Then click the menu icon in the upper left to show the main menu and click Brand.

Canva’s home screen showing the side menu. The icon in the upper left opens and closes the menu, and the Brand button is used to navigate to the brand kit management.
Canva’s home screen showing the side menu. The icon in the upper left opens and closes the menu, and the Brand button is used to navigate to the brand kit management.

Start by uploading your logo in the Brand logos section. You can upload several different versions of your logo if you have them. For example you might want to add a version that’s suitable for a dark background, a black and white version, or a logotype.

After you upload a logo, Canva will extract the colors from it and suggest a palette for you. You can add, modify, or remove colors to match your brand identity. Don’t have one yet? You can use the Recipe on hiring for logo design to get one.

To add a new color click the icon in the palette section. A small window will pop up to let you enter the hex code for your palette color.

Canva’s brand color picker
Canva’s brand color picker

If you will be creating designs to be printed on paper you should add a CMYK color since printing uses that color convention.

Last, add your brand fonts. Canva supports selecting a different font and style for headings, subheadings, and body copy. If you have a font that isn’t already included in Canva’s list you can upload one, but make sure you have a license to use the font before you upload it.

When you are finished your brand kit should look similar to this brand kit from Innovation Works, the producer of these Recipes.

The Canva brand kit management screen showing the logo, colors, and fonts used by Innovation Works
The Canva brand kit management screen showing the logo, colors, and fonts used by Innovation Works

Creating your post

Now that you have your brand kit in place you can create your post. Open the side menu if it’s closed and click Templates, then Instagram Post.

Canva menu showing the Instagram Post option
Canva menu showing the Instagram Post option

The dashboard for the Instagram Post section of Canva has thousands of templates across hundreds of categories. Some are created by Canva but most are made by third parties. Across the top of the page are several categories that you can use as a filter to find the templates that fit the type of post you are looking to create. Since we know we’re looking for Happy New Year templates we’ll use the search bar at the top to quickly get a list of templates to choose from.

Canva’s page for Happy New Year content
Canva’s page for Happy New Year content

Because a search will turn up content from all types that Canva offers, we’ll use the Filter in the bottom left to limit the results to just Instagram Posts.

Canva’s content type filters
Canva’s content type filters

We’ll select the result titled Festive Bold Happy New Year Greeting Animated Instagram Post. Selecting it opens a preview window with information about the template and a button to mark it as a favorite. Click the button labeled Customize this template to modify it for your own use.

The Canva description page for an Instagram Post template
The Canva description page for an Instagram Post template

The template editor screen includes a preview pane on the right and menu options on the left. Because the template author has put a lot of work into making the elements function and integrate properly it’s best not to try and modify the structure too much. But what we will do is apply our brand style, adjust the animation, add our logo, and include a music track.

To apply our brand style click the Styles tab on the left. This is where the Pro tier really shines. If we didn’t have it we’d be limited to the fonts and color combinations included with Canva, which are well-designed but not specific to our brand.

Canva’s template style pane
Canva’s template style pane

Click the Brand fonts button to apply your brand font to the template. Click the Color palette button to apply your color. In this template there’s only one color so you can click it again to use a different color in your palette. When you find one that you like, click Logos in the far left of the interface to access the logos you uploaded earlier. Click a logo and it will be applied to the template. Note that you will likely have to adjust its size and position so it fits with the template you chose.

Adding a custom logo to a Canva post template. The logo is covering the text and will need to be moved.
Adding a custom logo to a Canva post template. The logo is covering the text and will need to be moved.
The Canva post after adjusting the logo position
The Canva post after adjusting the logo position

Let’s add an audio track to this post. On the left side of the screen is an Apps button. Click it and scroll down to reveal the other apps Canva offers, including music. Click Audio to ‘pin’ it to the sidebar for this template.

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Take the time to explore Canva’s apps, especially at the Pro tier. Canva has millions of images and videos to choose from and integrations with many of the tools you likely already use.

The music included in Canva is all royalty free and is categorized by type. For this post we want something instrumental and happy, so we’ll choose the Instrumental happy category. Click any of the options in the list and a sample of the audio track will play (if you don’t hear sound check to see if your browser is blocking sound on canva.com). Once you find one that works for you, you’re ready to share it. Note that Canva saves your projects automatically so there’s no need to use a save button.

Click the Share button in the upper left. Canva allows Pro users to directly connect to social media accounts and even to schedule when posts will go live. For this Recipe we’ll just download the content, but as you publish more material you will find it saves time to directly connect Canva to your social media.

Canva’s share options panel
Canva’s share options panel

Click Download. Since Canva knows this is an Instagram Post it will automatically suggest the best settings, so you can click download again to get your video on your computer.

Canva’s download options panel
Canva’s download options panel

Once you have the video locally you can send it to your phone and add it to your Instagram account.

Wrapping up

Canva is an incredibly feature-rich platform with lots of options to make generating marketing content easier. With a Pro tier account you can generate a months’ worth of content for social media in a few hours, and Canva can also generate flyers, one-pagers, pitch decks, and other visual content you’ll need for your growing startup.

The contents of this Recipe are © Innovation Works, Inc. and are licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0 . Contact us with questions or feedback, or to learn more about our structured program in Entrepreneurism based on Startup Recipes.