How Blackbird transformed their business and culture with Canva


Blackbird(opens in a new tab or window) is one of Australia and New Zealand’s biggest and boldest venture capital firms. Canva Teams and Flourish help Blackbird embrace numbers and visuals to make sure its brand and culture match that big vision.

The Challenge

Blackbird stands out from the rest of the finance world with good reason. Since 2012, Blackbird’s startups have grown into some of the biggest tech and software success stories of the past decade.

Rather than focusing on quick returns and onetime investments, Blackbird partners with companies from the earliest stages across every point in their lifecycle, investing time, resources, and insight to help their 200+ founders and 100+ portfolio startups make an impact on the world.

Blackbird’s brand is an important part of that mission. It’s how the team show investors, founders and startups that their approach to business is all about championing creativity, conviction, and long-term thinking across all their projects.

Joel Connolly is Blackbird’s Creative Director, a former artist manager who knows the importance of a united creative vision.

As Blackbird’s own team grew, keeping a handle on their passionate brand identity, and the all-important values that underpin their work, became a tall order for Joel and his team.

“The biggest challenge that we faced prior to using Canva was all to do with our brand,” Joel says.

“We didn't have an internal design team or an internal designer. People were just trying to pull together their own graphics in whatever way they could, and we just totally lost control of our brand.”

That problem became more acute as the firm approached its first 100 hires.

“We just didn’t have a proper system set up at all for it,” Joel says.

“Six months ago, everyone was calling me every two minutes to help them create some new design assets.”

The Solution

Canva Teams has helped Blackbird ease their reliance on external design workload by 30%, empowering Joel’s team to continue to meet their own design needs without diluting the brand or vision.

“It’s quite intuitive. It means that my team is spending less time doing things that they don’t know how to do, but they’re still able to produce high quality stuff.”

Canva's Brand Kit and templates have cut the turnaround time for design jobs by 66%, while Canva’s Worksuite helps Joel and his team create essential documents and presentations in a fraction of the time, right across the company.

Canva Teams helped Blackbird shorten turnaround time by 66% using templated documents and assets.

“Anyone at Blackbird who needs to communicate visually in any way, it all happens through Canva. We produce everything from quite formal reports that we send to our investors, all the way through to marketing materials for big conferences that we run.”

Powering a refresh

Blackbird’s 2022 brand refresh was a golden opportunity to stake their ground, and stand out from their contemporaries. Just as Blackbird’s investment philosophy is all about supporting generational companies from day 1 to day 10,000, Canva played a foundational role in how Blackbird communicates their story to investors and the world.

“We recently completed a rebrand of Blackbird and Canva’s just made it so much easier,” Joel says. “I was able to set up a whole Brand Kit of not just logos and colors and fonts, but I’ve been able to upload a ton of templates and images that my team can use.”

Blackbird uses Canva’s Brand Kit for ease of brand consistency.

Which means his team can take ownership of Blackbird’s unique brand and mission without worrying about breaking rules or templates — they couldn’t if they tried.

“I’m able to wrap a set of rules around the way people use our brand, so that they can’t go off brand. “Through Canva, it’s quite difficult for them to step outside the brand guidelines.”

With Canva, Blackbird can focus on growing the impact of their bold, colorful brand without worrying about the details.

“My team don't have to think about it, they're not stressing out about having the brand guides open, trying to find the right fonts and get the right spacing in between the letters. They just click it, and it works.”

“We’re bigger, we’re getting up towards 1,000 people and Canva’s really been instrumental in us keeping control of the brand.”

Blackbird uses Canva for a variety of templated docs and assets.

Letting data Flourish

Numbers are a big deal in the investment world, and Canva’s integration with data visualization platform Flourish made it easier for Blackbird to let the data do the talking, without sacrificing clarity or engagement.

Flourish’s range of innovative data visualization tools, from interactive charts to embeddable maps, gives companies like Blackbird an efficient and elegant shortcut to make their numbers pop.

“We need to communicate all the time in data and in charts,” says Joel. “We need to explain to our investors how their investments are going. We need to explain to people internally what's happening with our funds.”

“We found that the way we were communicating just wasn't that effective from a data perspective, so we started using Flourish in Canva. It seamlessly plugs into our data backend, and it's made all the world of difference.”

As an example, the team says the production time for semi-annual reports has shrunk from six weeks, to just four thanks to Flourish and Canva. An individual report takes two weeks to produce now, whereas it took three times longer before Canva.

“Before, we used to have to engage external designers to help us get this done, and it always took weeks and weeks. Now with Flourish in Canva, we can communicate quite complex numbers and all sorts of charts just like that.”

“That's been a real game-changer for us.”

A little magic

Perhaps most importantly, Canva has helped Joel and the Blackbird team put color, storytelling, and a creative spirit at the heart of the company’s culture.

Canva streamlines workflows across teams at Blackbird.

“Everyone at Blackbird uses Canva, all the way from our Partnership group to our Operations Team,” Joel says. “Our Finance Team, Founder Success Team, you name it.”

It’s another meaningful way Blackbird is trying to reshape their corner of the investment world, all while making sure the integrity of their brand and values remains industry leading.

“The other thing I think is really magic is the creativity that it encourages in my team,” Joel says. “I think creativity is super important. Allowing people to make stuff and build stuff is really, really rewarding."

“Canva helps us stay on track, but it’s also a creative tool that gives my team just that little bit of fun and magic in their day-to-day work. I can’t imagine us ever not being customers ever again.”
Joel Connolly
Creative Director, Blackbird