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How Canva uses Canva to embrace visual communication

The ease and breadth of Canva makes cultivating a visual-first culture simple for teams and organizations of any size, in all sorts of ways – including at Canva itself.

With the world becoming an increasingly digital and visual place, developing the skills to communicate visually has never been more important. What was once considered a specialized skill has become foundational for billions of knowledge workers across the globe. The emergence of hybrid work has only accelerated this trend, with visual communication becoming an enabler for productivity, team culture and alignment, decision-making, and collaboration.

We’ve seen this need for visual communication first-hand, with millions of teams and workplaces now embracing Canva to collaborate and achieve their goals. From global organizations like Zoom to small businesses and nonprofits across the globe, more than 85 million people are now using Canva each month to create everything from presentations to brainstorms, social graphics, videos, marketing reports, websites, employee swag and more.

At Canva, our platform powers the huge amount of the work we do internally, as well as the features we conceptualize and ship to our community. We recently caught up with Protocol to chat about some of the ways we use Canva internally and thought we’d share some more about how Canva powers everything from the way we approach product development and visioning, to making decisions, brainstorming in meetings, onboarding new hires, communicating with our global team, running our marketing campaigns or managing our brand at scale. We hope you’ll find some of these examples to be useful for your own teams and workplaces too.

Growing our team with an engaging talent brand

It’s more important than ever for organisations to stand out amid the fierce competition for talent. Creating visually engaging materials that showcase the diversity of our team, the uniqueness of our culture and the various roles available is one of the ways we attract potential talent across different social media channels.

We know that culture is a hugely important factor when looking for a new role, so to help familiarise all of our candidates with the uniqueness of Canva’s culture, we designed the Canva Culture Book. The presentation codifies our culture and serves as a one-stop-shop full of videos, photography, illustrations, quotes and fun facts about our famous culture. This becomes a key touchpoint and allows all of our candidates to explore our culture and ways of working before interviewing with us. It’s also a good opportunity to see the types of things that can be created with Canva!

A page from Canva's Culture Book with tips from our team for incoming new starters

For some roles, we also present candidates with a scenario and set a ‘challenge’ to be presented back to the interview panel. To help familiarise candidates with Canva and to keep our challenge presentations engaging, we share a Canva Presentation which includes all the context candidates need and the unique scenario chosen for their role. We also encourage candidates to present their challenge back to us using their favorite Canva medium (a video, a presentation, a website, etc) to help them develop an understanding of the platform and how we communicate.

For successful candidates, the celebrations begin with Canva. Our Talent Acquisition team create Talking Presentations which give candidates the opportunity to meet fellow Canvanauts they’ll be working closely with in their new role. We also share customizable social media templates and encourage candidates to share these on their social media channels. You can find a bunch of examples under the hashtag #ImJoiningCanva. Here's a helpful guide to get you started with creating a compelling Canva Presentation.

Example celebratory Canva designs which new hires customize and share on social media

Design-first product development and visioning

We build and ship new products frequently, making it critical for all of our teams to work in lockstep. From engineering, to product marketing, through to sales and people operations; our teams use Canva throughout every step of the product development process, from brainstorming through to launching. Using Canva Presentations, teams create detailed Vision Decks for all new products and future strategies. These presentations follow a consistent format across the team and help to capture goals, potential blockers, manage stakeholder approvals, product mockups, user research and a whole lot more. They’re also a great way to visually represent future products while bringing our team on the journey.

An example of a Vision Deck in Canva

Designing and launching new products requires lots of collaboration throughout the process. To help simplify decision-making, we’ve found creating decision decks to be an effective way to keep teams informed and aligned. With real-time collaboration, teams across Canva then add comments, thoughts and ideas into one central presentation, facilitating feedback and approvals without unnecessary admin. Here’s a tutorial series to guide you through collaborating on designs in Canva — from posting comments and tagging team members, to leaving feedback and resolving suggestions directly in your designs.

Collaborating in Canva

Engaging and inspiring internal communications

With a rapidly growing team spread across the globe, creating effective, engaging and inspiring internal communication is incredibly important. Not only does great internal communication help to keep teams informed, but it also plays a vital role in maintaining engagement and strengthening our culture.

To keep our team of more than 3,000 people engaged, we lean into visual-first communication by embracing elements like images, animations, and data visualizations to cut down on unnecessary text and appeal to visual learners.

As we work across multiple timezones, Canva’s Talking Presentations have helped us to communicate asynchronously. We use these for everything from training videos to onboarding sessions, team updates, or for presenting pre-recorded sections in meetings that people can’t attend live. All of our Talking Presentations are then on-demand by default, allowing those in different timezones to catch up at a time that works best for them.

Every part of our internal communications strategy – from company-wide wide emails to our all-hands and quarterly Season Openers, is powered by Canva – making use of different features including Canva Websites, Canva Presentations, Canva Print and Canva Video.

For example, during our fortnightly all-hands, we use a Canva Presentation to showcase engaging videos, data visualisations, product mockups and supporting slides which are then made available to anyone who isn’t able to tune in live. We’re also enthusiastic adopters of Canva Websites and have been making the most of this new feature to create everything from internal websites for event registrations, office lunch menus, our internal People Portal, team Wikis, personal portfolios and a whole lot more. Here are a few helpful video tutorials to create and publish websites with Canva.

Each week, we share a Canvazine (our own magazine) which captures all of the happenings across our different offices – from club updates to events, product launches, important reminders, birthdays and fun facts about new starters. This magazine is also published as a Canva Website, meaning it’s automatically responsive on mobile and forever available for newbies wanting to read through our cultural archives. For tips on how to create and manage your team in Canva, our Managing Your Team tutorial has 9 steps to guide you through the fundamentals.

Engaging onboarding and learning materials

One of the most important parts of Canva’s onboarding experience is creating an environment where our new starters can form meaningful connections with each other while integrating into our culture and ways of working. Creating genuine engagement can be difficult for distributed teams, which is where the power of visual communication and collaborative tools can inspire and unite new starters in a remote world.

As part of the onboarding experience at Canva, every Newbie (our affectionate term for new starters) participates in our onboarding bootcamp. All of these sessions are created with Canva Presentations which introduce Newbies to our global team and ways of working through a series of slides and videos. To help make the process interactive, we also share customizable Canva workbooks where Newbies can store their learnings, mark tasks off of their checklist and note down questions that might be on their mind.

Canva's onboarding bootcamp

To ensure we’re creating a sense of connection and camaraderie from anywhere in the world, all Canva Newbies are tasked with creating an ‘About Me’ presentation using whichever Canva format they desire. We’ve seen lots of creative videos, presentations, websites and posters that Newbies have used to introduce themselves to the company over the years!

As a visual communication platform, part of our onboarding process also includes a design school session where we teach all new starters the foundations of design literacy and visual communication at Canva, including key skills such as:

  • Using one point per slide to create engaging presentations
  • Sticking with a consistent theme to create brand awareness
  • How to access our Brand Kit and all of our internal brand assets within Canva
  • Some of the lesser-known Canva tricks, such as Magic Resize, Mockups and /Magic
  • Fun shortcuts such as ‘D’ in presenter mode for a drum roll, ‘M’ for a mic drop, ‘C’ for confetti, and ‘U’ for a giant curtain closing on the screen!

Creating global marketing campaigns at scale

We also create the vast majority of our own marketing assets, including our global marketing campaigns, using Canva. To bring our recent What Will You Design Today campaign to life we created a range of visual assets including social media posts, presentations, banners, internal communications, email headers, billboards and a whole lot more.

Beyond the final campaign assets, we also use Canva Presentations and Brainstorms to map out the end-to-end process for our marketing campaigns. From Campaign Toolkits to Marketing Briefing decks, this allows all of our marketing teams to contribute to their sections of our marketing campaigns, in one central place, in their own time. Unlocking these efficiencies also frees up our specialist design teams to focus on large-scale campaigns and projects by empowering everyone in the team to take control over their own design assets.

These Canva Presentations and Brainstorms are then used for our campaign asset review and approval process, meaning all of our feedback is centralised in one platform without the need to switch between different tools, download multiple file versions or track decisions over email.

Managing our brand at scale

Like all global brands, maintaining our brand consistency is critical to building trust and awareness with our global community. A globally distributed team utilizing multiple channels and platforms to communicate and share content can lead to brand inconsistencies, and this is where the power of an end-to-end visual communication platform can add real value.

In October 2021, we refined our logo to flex across more applications, from tiny buttons to huge billboards. We uploaded it to Canva as an SVG, enabling our global team to add the new branding to their presentations, social media posts, marketing materials and more without thinking about it.

We also built the Canva Brand Hub using Canva Websites allowing us to share our brand guidelines externally. Want to understand our brand pillars or tone of voice? You’ll find it on the Canva Brand Hub.

Like many Canva users, we’re avid users of Brand Kit, which empowers our internal team to create effortlessly on brand external materials, without needing support from our internal team of designers. This means our sales team can create their own pitch decks, our marketing team can build campaigns and product demos, and everyone is empowered to be creative and create their own visual assets. It has been incredibly powerful for unlocking efficiences by inspiring creativity and cultivating a visual-first culture as we’ve scaled as a global team. Here’s our Design School course on why branding matters, and how to build a consistent, compelling brand with Canva.

Our Brand team has also built an extensive range of templates, from decision decks to vision decks, product launch roadmaps, marketing campaign plans, meeting agendas, and new hire onboarding plans – that can all be customized with the click of a few buttons.

To help you set up your content and team in Canva, take a look at our Content Management tutorials that guide you through setting up folders, sharing them with team members, and streamlining the way you organize them.

Invest in a culture of design literacy

With over 3,000 Canvanauts using Canva daily, we’ve learned first-hand that visual communication is an enabler for so much more than just good design. Building design literacy and the ability to communicate visually within teams opens up a whole new world of productivity by freeing up specialist design teams for large-scale campaigns, encouraging collaboration through design features in a hybrid world, and aligning teams and stakeholders by distilling complex ideas into digestible and engaging content.

A slide from our Design Lab workshop for Canva Newbies

With Canva, teams have access to an end-to-end visual communications platform, removing the unnecessary admin of switching between different tools, downloading and re-uploading attachments, and so much more. The ease and breadth of Canva makes cultivating a visual-first culture simple for teams and organizations of any size — including at Canva itself.

See how individuals, teams and organizations are achieving their goals with visual communication here.