How Canva Made Graphic Design—and Graphic Design Marketing—Accessible for the Masses

Why can’t this be easier? We’ve all had that thought while trying to design a document or flier for work or school, and everyone knows the pain of laboring for hours to make something look good. That feeling—frustration mounting as the program’s quirks seem more impossible to master with every passing moment—is practically ubiquitous. 

But flounder no more. In 2013, the graphic design platform Canva came along to fix things once and for all. With the help of Canva, aficionados and novices alike can craft visually appealing creations with ease using pre-made templates, icons, shapes, and texts. 

Understanding that the platform’s power lies in this simplicity and ease-of-use, the SaaS company has built a brand based on helping anyone who’s experienced—and is exhausted with—the struggle of making visually appealing designs. 

Widening the target audience 

Some brands home in on a hyper-specific target audience, and for good reason. Knowing who you’re marketing to makes it easier to explain why your product or service is relevant. Often, it also reveals an obvious channel you can use to reach them, like TikTok for Gen Z or email marketing for baby boomers. But Canva is taking a different approach. The company has identified their audience as—well—everyone. 

The platform’s website copy conveys this sentiment loud and clear: “Everyone can create professional designs with Canva. It’s easy to use and free.” Likewise, one of the website’s calls to action, “It only takes 23 seconds to learn,” quickly puts users at ease. With a learning curve of less than a minute, they know they won’t sink time into getting their bearings on the platform only to grow frustrated by the undertaking a few hours later. 

Canva isn’t just for individuals either. Around 85% of Fortune 500 companies use the platform, showing that its graphic design marketing is truly versatile, appealing to both industry

MarketSmiths Case Study

A data platform for financial traders, TrendSpider used clever AI technology to boost performance and make day trading more effective. Unfortunately, its old website buried the platform’s true value in industry jargon. Unfazed, MarketSmiths dove headfirst into the industry specifics. We combined targeted questions with platform demos, research, and even a brief foray into day trading. All this hard work soon paid off. TrendSpider’s finished website threads wit through reason, enticing visitors to explore all the platform has to offer—while its ingenious use of AI is getting traders to return time and time again.

> Read the full study

Spreading the word far and wide 

Another key graphic design marketing tactic for Canva has been tapping into the power of YouTube influencers, who use their channels to push the platform. Why does this work? First, because many of these influencers have a personal connection with their audience, meaning viewers can trust their recommendations. If they push Canva on their channel, any viewer who isn’t already familiar with it is likely to check it out themselves. 

In a way, Canva also uses YouTubers to tell their story for them. Some YouTubers are affiliates of Canva, meaning they receive a commission when they redirect viewers to the platform, while others may simply run tutorials of the platform to generate views for their own sake. The YouTuber may film themselves using the platform, so you can see firsthand how intuitive it is, or share a little anecdote about why they love using it. 

YouTube has created an affordable and effective way for tech brands to outsource their storytelling—but, of course, storytelling can come in a variety of forms. Beyond sponsored videos, tech companies can leverage blog posts, social media, and thought leadership strategies to boost their visibility and bring new users into the fold. 

Learn why the best return on your marketing dollar comes from copywriting.

Lending a helping hand 

Ultimately, Canva built a brand around being accessible and helpful. Across their presence on the internet, Canva communicates with simplicity. The message is clear and infused in everything they do: we’re ready to help. No tech or design jargon here. 

For further proof, take a look at Canva’s Twitter. Posting on social media has served as a key tool in cementing brand identity in recent years, but instead of being slightly cheeky like Slack or Netflix, Canva has taken a subdued approach. 

Their Twitter serves as a place for users to have their questions answered quickly and conveniently. They also use the account to share design tips and tricks, allowing followers to pick up some pointers and staying true to their motto: “Design like a professional.”

With this graphic design marketing approach in mind, it’s not difficult to imagine how the company hit a valuation of $6 billion since it was launched by Melanie Perkins in 2013. By casting a wide net, Canva can catch more users—and generate more money.  

Want to woo new customers with convincing storytelling? The copywriting team at MarketSmiths is happy to boost your messaging to the next level

After dabbling in journalism, communications, and science publishing, Anne found her way to MarketSmiths. When she’s not writing, this New Jersey native is likely spending time outdoors or expounding on the importance of the Oxford comma.

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