How Fernwood Fitness got 70 franchisees moving with Canva

About Fernwood Gyms

At Fernwood gyms, their goal is to empower women to shine. Over the last 30 years, this successful female-friendly franchise has grown to over 70 health and fitness clubs across Australia. Clubs are purpose-built for perfect balance, delivering a combination of strength and weight training, state-of-the-art cardio equipment, high-intensity exercise, and group fitness classes to suit every style. And with over 70,000 members, it’s up to Fernwood’s brand team to remain on top of their game so each club can succeed.

The challenge

Previously, Fernwood had used an in-house designer to create marketing collateral, such as campaigns and fitness challenges, for all their franchises. These assets, including posters, flyers, and social posts, were then uploaded to an external platform for individual franchisees to access. The process was long and laborious, exposing a raft of frustrations that made the platform difficult to use, like trouble-saving files, slow upload times, and no flexibility whatsoever. Not surprisingly, it was a process no one enjoyed. As Mark Adams, Fernwood’s National Brand Manager, puts it, ”My franchisees didn’t like using it at all. Hence, why they were using Canva but without all our assets”.

In addition, social gave the brand team nation-wide visibility, exposing what wasn’t working with the existing process. “With Facebook, Instagram, and places like that, you could see the clubs generating their artwork, and clearly they weren’t switched on to our brand and what we were trying to generate. They weren’t being consistent with the brand. They were doing their own thing with their fonts, their colors, their imagery. It was a bit of a dog’s breakfast”.

The solution

As a former designer himself, Mark could see how easy Canva was to use. From his point of view, it was clearly built for those without design experience, and that it was so simple for anyone to understand and use right away.But as Mark says, the appeal of Canva came down to its popularity. Many of his clubs were already using it to create assets, even if they weren’t always on brand, so it was an easy platform to integrate. Mark added, “The onboarding from the Canva team was well done, really supportive. They’ve been in contact; the communication has been good. It’s working really well.”

Once the team was set up, it was all about getting Canva working for them. As any successful franchise knows, you need to be flexible and fast, responding quickly to franchisees’ and customers’ needs. 

From the initial design to sharing it with the team, Canva helped reduce the time it takes to distribute assets. As Mark explained, “Timing played a huge role. I would say it’s halved the amount of time it takes. Let’s say we’re running a campaign. There are a lot of assets: a series of posters, DL flyers, in club assets, social posts… there might be thirty to fifty pieces. With Canva, we pretty much halved the time it takes – maybe even quicker – to release all those assets and make them available to our franchisees.” 

How they did it

Like many franchises using Canva, templates were vital. For campaigns, the brand team could create beautifully designed templates that were set in stone, aside from small editable parts such as their club names, phone numbers, or email addresses. Then it was a matter of the franchisees making those adjustments and either sending directly to print or publishing straight to platforms.

Club operational assets were slightly different. As individual locations demanded a high number of assets, including signage, notices, and upcoming events, these were also generated by the brand team but were more customizable to drop in their own information and content.

On top of this, Brand Kits were invaluable, especially when you consider Fernwood is made up of five brands – the leading brand, plus four sub-brand products. Franchises could apply the relevant Brand Kit to their marketing materials to ensure they were using the right logos, colors, and fonts, every single time. 

Tammi Hodge from the Fernwood Miranda location is a big fan of this feature. “The preloaded brand fonts and approved graphics make the presentation of Fernwood Fitness consistent across the network, and the internal support of Mark’s team is an added bonus for any design needs or queries.” 

Not only did this enable franchisees to create their materials using existing templates, thereby alleviating the brand team of some of the workload, but it ensured brand consistency at every touchpoint. For franchisees like Tammi, Canva is “such a simple and easy platform for creating coherent and on-brand marketing collateral – whether it be utilising pre-existing templates or designing from scratch, it’s reassuring to know that I can create an artwork on the spot to capture the audience in the desired time.”And with 70 clubs to consider, you can imagine the difference it made.

Of course, for more significant projects or changes to campaigns, franchisees can still seek approval from head office – something that can be done seamlessly within the Canva platform – but for day-to-day marketing, it put the franchisees in total control. 


Today, the Fernwood team create over 1000+ designs a month, and their user rates on Canva are significantly high at 90%, making it an incredible success story. As local franchisee Tammi Hodge from Fernwood Miranda exclaims, “I have always enjoyed using Canva on my personal account, but since Mark and his branding team at Fernwood Fitness introduced the business platform on a national level, it has made internal and external marketing for our club (Miranda) quick, efficient and effective for both print and digital designs!”  

Mark says, “I’m really pleased about that because it shows that the clubs are spending time in our design studio space and using our templates, fonts, and brand assets, so that’s comforting for me as opposed to what they were originally doing.”

Visibility is another indicator that Canva is working, with each club’s social pages proving that  Fernwood is on track and staying true to the brand.

But for Mark, the real sign of success is silence. “If I don’t hear from anybody, then there are no problems. Silence is a good thing in what I do because if something is wrong or not working, then you hear about it very quickly”. And with all that golden silence, Mark can focus on the business side of things, ensuring the Fernwood franchise remains in better shape than ever.

Canva has made creating marketing and online social content a breeze. Its quick, easy and super convenient. The ability to create content on a desktop, and then pick it up in the app on any device makes uploading to any social media platform effortless.