How to... Design with Canva for social, Sook and beyond

Make your socials (and more) look tip top with our latest how to guide, and discover how you can use Canva to design your pop-up with Sook.

Just going to put this out there, right up front… here at Sook, we LOVE Canva. We’re totally onboard with their whole democratising design thing, which is why we’ve built our systems to integrate with it seamlessly, allowing you to design stand-out content for our in-store screens, quickly and easily. But what about all your other design needs? Well, it’s perfect for those too. Let’s move it online for a second. Making your socials pop is important stuff when you’re a small business, so we’ve put together this short guide to help you get the branding basics right, and make the most of this game-changing design tool (co-founded by a 30 year old woman, Melanie Perkins).

Branding 101

The beauty of Canva, is that it gives you the power to nail your branding across all your touchpoints, whether they’re digital or physical. But what is branding, and why is it important to get it right?

Branding is the art of using distinctive design to convey something about your brand. Your ‘branding’ will be made up of many elements: your logo; brand colours; your design elements; even the tone you communicate with, your merchandising, the scent of your retail spaces, or the way you handle customer service issues…everything you do creates a holistic image of you in a consumer’s mind. 

Katie Welch, lecturer in Creative Advertising at Falmouth University, says:

 ‘Strong branding makes your posts simpler to understand for your customers. It takes the guesswork out of it, and lets them get to the key message instantly. How to set yourself guidelines for putting together a piece of communication is one of the first, and most fundamental, things our students learn’

Here are her branding basics…

Have a plan

Take some time to think about what you want to achieve with your communications, as this will impact what you’ll post about. Are you trying to inspire people, or are you driving sales 100% of the time? There are some great resources on social media strategy out there, so read up and implement the things that make sense for your business. Scheduling platforms like Later and Hootsuite can help, as can apps like Preview. Most of them have free trials, so you can see what works best for you. 

Keep it simple

A post can be as basic as a photograph, plus your caption, but these days followers expect a little bit more. With Canva you can easily make your visuals work super hard, by adding movement, animation or effects, while still keeping it clean. 

Obviously you’ll want to customise any template you use to fit your brand, but keep additions to a minimum. If you’re designing from a blank, try not to overload it. Think: are you adding elements, such as a URL, that could go more neatly into the caption? The golden rule is: if you can strip it out without the visual losing its meaning, you should.

Keep your elements consistent

Think about your colour palette - you might want to pick a dominant colour for your feed, or use it as a highlight in every layout. Look at other feeds you like, or just take a leisurely scroll through the explore section. 

There’s so much to play with on Canva, but watch out for getting a bit ‘font happy’, as this can make your feed look messy. One is the holy grail, but, if that feels restrictive, pick out another one or two so that you’ve got some flex depending on the tone of each post. 

Give yourself some rules

What fonts you use and when. Some reference for the right kind of imagery. Your colour palette. How a logo should appear. What words you do or don’t ever use. This is the start of a basic ‘brand guideline’ document that all big brands have. It’s good practice to do it as a small business, and will come in handy when you grow enough to hire someone else to do it for you. Check out Canva’s ‘brand kit’ feature for an easy, drag-n-drop guideline hub, where you can hold all your logos, colours and assets. 

Give yourself a break

If you’re lacking confidence or ideas upfront, make it easy for yourself and don’t be afraid to use the incredible content creation tools that are around now. 

Canva (they’re not paying us, honest!) lets you search by industry sector, beauty for example, so you can easily find templates to suit your needs, plus their stock imagery and video footage is excellent quality, which takes the pressure off you generating your own when you’re in a rush. 

What about when you’re ready to skill up? Canva have an inspirational blog, and have set up the Canva Design School, offering up top notch tutorials and courses in design training, absolutely free, in areas such as typography, personal branding, design basics, and pitching. It’s seriously good, and can help you break away from the template, if you feel like you want to. 

 Check out their linked apps too, which can be found in the side bar under ‘Your Apps’. Here you’ll find cool platforms to apply different effects to your content, create product mockups, and generally make those layouts sing. Or, if you’re feeling like you want to look elsewhere, you can buy dedicated social packages you like through Creative Market, or Ripl ( a bit like Canva) which cover all the formats, across all the platforms. 

 (And if you’re still stuck designing your Sook, give us a shout and we’ll help you out!)

 Take a look around Canva and see what catches your eye, but in the meantime, here are a few of our top picks for getting you started…

Sook’s Top 3 Canva Template Types

1. Quotes: Did someone say high follower engagement?? That’s right. Quotes, either from the business founder or from a third party whose values align with yours, let you show your following what you’re about. Replace it with a question and you’re inviting interaction. 

What we like about this design is that it’s so simple, and easy to make appropriate for whatever business you’re in. Simply choose a minimal background image that fits, and use the colour pick tool to colour the font. It’s a great way to break up your feed if it’s looking busy. 

*This is a free template, others may be on the Pro plan, which is worth every penny in our opinion, but see what works for you.

2. Bold, graphic product launch: This one is on the Pro plan, but there are loads of other free options. The designer has made great use of Canva’s Background Remover to cut out the product from an image and drop it in. Just change the font and the colours, decide whether to put an offer in, prime your QR code, and you’re ready with a contemporary visual that lets your product do the talking. 

3. Countdowns: Create a sense of urgency with a countdown in your Stories, like this one from @nismstudiospaces. This is another Pro template, and (not seen here) features some sweet animation to draw the eye to the clock itself. Ideal for the run up to your Sook space booking. Share to invite or get people to save the date, and repost (with tweaks if you like) regularly up to the date. 

 So much fun to be had, so what are you waiting for? 

Find out more: drop miles@sook.space a line about booking your Sook space and putting some of these top tips to use.

Find out how your brand can pop-up with Sook

If you would like to book one of our spaces