How creative agency Hero Creative generated higher ROI and won new business with Canva Teams

About Hero Creative

Founded in 2012, Seattle-based mixed media creative agency, Hero Creative(opens in a new tab or window), is passionate about delivering a brand experience that far exceeds their client’s expectations and goals. By blending their passion for art and science, Hero’s niche and agile team of five creative, digital, and technology specialists exist to smash the mold and create brands with unconstrained creativity and bring impactful storytelling to every campaign, project, and presentation they collaborate on.

Hero Creative handles everything from full-stack website design and development, branding, graphic design, video production, photography, social media, marketing, and sale solutions right up to content creation and copywriting for their clients. President and Creative Director Mark Davis says, “We keep things very tight in our group, and so we get called in on specialized projects that have highly technical and creative issues to solve.”

As a result, Mark’s exceptionally skilled team work closely and collaboratively in meetings with clients, bringing their expertise directly to the table — keeping meetings productive and on point.

The amalgamation of knowledge allows the agency and its clients to move faster and expedite projects without any loss in translation. And in doing so enabled Hero Creative to achieve its mission for their clients — to implement positive change through creative consulting and to help businesses succeed.

The challenge

When Covid struck in January 2020, it forced worldwide societal changes and impacted many agencies, businesses, and organizations. Fortunately, Hero Creative had almost all digital, technology, and workflow systems in place to seamlessly transform into the digital world, enabling them to continue operations without skipping a beat.

The catch was, as everyone had to adapt to working remotely, the Hero team had relied on in-person collaboration. Plus with Covid travel bans in place, this also froze creative production activities like video filming and photography, one of the essential bread and butter parts of their business.

On the business growth side of things, like all organizations in the advertising, media, and marketing industry, pitch proposals and presentations are a vital part of the agency process — a means to winning new business, retaining and growing their most important contracts, and an indispensable way to deliver campaigns, creative and on-brand visual concepts, and updates to clients.

Mark Davis, who runs both the creative side of the business and the client management and proposal pitching process, is a great believer in the power of storytelling in presentations and creating compelling engaging content. As he worked on 90% of the business pitches and client proposals, he would clock up hours creating and visualizing presentations that integrated a high level of sophisticated video, photography, and graphics to engage clients. Mark used various platforms, complex design software, and a proposal system to bring it all together.

With the complication of multiple systems in place, this often led to software crashing, slow downloads, and time wasted reformatting, reloading, and uploading elements needed for the presentation. On top of that, most of the design software used did not support team collaboration on the documents to help move things forward. Design changes and feedback with the team designer had to be shared using other means, slowing things down even further. The process was unproductive and time consuming until Mark was introduced to Canva through a client.

The solution

Mark’s client mentioned Canva Teams(opens in a new tab or window) during an event. He needed Mark to check out the branding of a social media campaign his team had designed in Canva.

Despite his preconceived notions of Canva as the right tool for his client, Mark finally relented after hearing his client rave about it. He logged in and entered Canva Teams world for the first time.

He discovered that Canva wasn’t just a design tool that featured a comprehensive brand management system. It was a complete visual communication platform equipped with multiple design tool functions and a wide range of features and capabilities.

Mark says, “I was honestly pleasantly surprised. I went ahead to set up my client’s brand elements like fonts, logo, and their colors in Canva’s Brand Kit, and in a few clicks, their social post instantly became on-brand!” He also noticed that this simple setup also created further consistency across their other social posts, which had slipped off the agency’s radar.

In the short time Mark dabbled with Canva, he was already blown away by the speed, simplicity, and efficiency of creating in Canva. To illustrate, Mark says designing a Venn diagram in video editing software would have taken him three to four hours. In Canva, he found a great range of ready-made Venn diagram templates(opens in a new tab or window) which he could customize in 5 minutes.

“Then a big flash, light bulb moment came to me! I was like — Oh wow, Canva actually could be a tool that we could use for several different things,” Mark enthused.

Here’s how they did it

The moment Mark Davis converted to Canva Teams for his agency, he said it revolutionized the way they operated, collaborated, and produced work together.

Collaborating faster, smarter, and better

To start, working in tandem with his team became a seamless process as Canva’s thousands of customizable presentation templates supported real-time collaboration. Everyone could easily co-create, design, add feedback or ask questions through live comments and walk through the presentation documents together in one platform. By enabling everyone to express themselves instantly, the team could share ideas in a meaningful way while staying focused on the content at hand.

Mark says, “As team members can cross collaborate within the platform if our designer needs to make tweaks and changes, or swap images, he can easily do it on the fly.” In just a few clicks, Canva’s capabilities reduced back and forth exchanges and freed up their team designer’s time, allowing him to focus on the more important jobs for other clients like brand identity work.

Inspiring presentation design templates and capabilities

Another massive game-changer for Mark is Canva’s inspiring range of presentation templates(opens in a new tab or window) which came with video integration capabilities — an integral feature to his work. Within the professionally designed formats, Mark was able to efficiently customize the templates to build Hero Creative’s own on-brand pitch decks, layer videos where required, and have the flexibility to upload his assets and resources. Mark says, “The templates had a great storytelling capacity which our clients love, and the way that it presents and flows allowed them to focus on each slide easily.”

Combined with Canva’s incredible library of photos, graphics, animated effects, and audio tracks, Mark could productively put his presentation together without any technical difficulties he experienced with other design applications. With that, Mark was able to achieve his aim of high-quality concept visualization with ease and speed in the one platform. Mark says, “What would have been a 40-hour job to create a pitch from scratch took only a few hrs.”

To illustrate how the 40 hours add up, Mark states that it would usually take him three to four hours to animate or create a simple animated effect using more complex software. And to format a presentation with software he previously used would take him almost 16 hours, versus one hour with Canva.

“From a platform robustness standpoint, Canva beat out all the other applications we were working on,” Mark says. He exclaims that he’s even finished a 40 slide presentation in 2 hours and wowed the client. “They had more questions about how I did the presentation on Canva than the project!”

Knowing that each presentation was going to be engaging, amazing, and impactful to his clients was also a real confidence booster for Mark. To top it off following each presentation, Mark could also convert his presentations into PDF to easily share with clients.

When it comes to collaborating with their clients, Mark says, “For a carwash client we had, I built out this entire mood board set on Canva. The template allowed me to actually collaborate in real time with my clients on the go and for us to easily make changes together. Plus it presented really well.”

Setting up a client’s brand for success

Hero’s creative team is incredibly passionate about the clients they work with. More than that is their dedication to the brands they have built for their clients. However, ensuring brand continuity beyond delivering a client’s brand guideline is one of the most challenging issues they’ve been battling. Mark says many times he’s seen clients turn their back on their own brand. The moment clients lose sight of it, their branding erodes and its unique identity is lost.

Fortunately, Canva’s multifaceted platform features brand management capabilities, including a Brand Kit, in-built brand controls, and templates to enable brand consistency across multiple channels. Mark encourages his clients to “move forward” and to “not turn their back on their brand” by recommending Canva at the end of a job. He does this by proposing Canva in their agency proposal.

His advice to his clients is this — “It’s important to set your brand up for success and propel it into the future. For that, you need a powerful set of tools that can let your brand express itself in the different channels you’ll be using, whether it’s social media, print, or videos. Don’t lose sight of what is the original intention of the brand.”

When needed, Mark is able to guide and collaborate with his clients from within Canva’s platform to set up their Brand Kit and help monitor their branding. “What is making our team very excited is that now we can have brand continuity and interface with our clients and be able to propel their brand and our client-agency relationship into the future through Canva.”

Quotation mark
"To say Canva is a game-changer is a massive understatement. It has reinvented how we communicate and express our ideas and opinions with people and our clients. It's a vehicle and a vessel for robust storytelling, and it's also transformed our ability to expedite projects on our end and do it very efficiently."

Mark Davis

President and Creative Director at Hero Creative


For many agencies, big or small, improving team efficiency and speeding up the client-agency process is never easy or seamless. A powerful, all-encompassing visual communication platform like Canva can help agencies cover all bases and stay agile. Whether it’s presentations to win new business, accelerating content creation, empowering clients to stay true to their brand, or inspiring team members to work productively, Canva’s built-in tools and design capabilities enable agencies to do all that and more.

Mark Davis of Hero Creative tells us, “To say Canva is a game-changer is a massive understatement. It has reinvented how we communicate and express our ideas and opinions with people and our clients. It’s a vehicle and a vessel for robust storytelling, and it’s also transformed our ability to expedite projects on our end and do it very efficiently.” In addition, features like Canva’s talking presentation templates have even empowered an introverted colleague of Mark’s to present with confidence.

The impact on Hero Creative’s bottom line since working on Canva in the last three months has been positive. The agency has secured two large contracts, saved 160 hours, reduced expenditure on other software, and cut down up to $32k of operating costs, making Canva a significant return of investment (ROI) in Mark’s books.

“Canva has helped us save time and make the company profitable, so we can afford to give back to other businesses and causes like ‘Make a wish foundation,’ and pay our staff more,” Mark concludes.