Well, It Doesn’t Actually Generate Logos...
Canva is not really a logo maker. It’s an online, general-purpose graphics editor that just so happens to have some logo design features. Kind of like how I’m not a comedian, I’m a writer with some joke-making features.
When Canva was launched, it almost immediately made a name for itself as a decent, low-priced service, and it maintains that reputation to this day. It’s mostly free to use, with a few useful (but not always essential) features locked behind a Premium plan.
It’s available in enough languages that I’m not even going to try to list them here. Heck, they have a search bar in the language drop-down menu, to make finding your language easier:
That’s probably not all the languages, and yet it’s probably enough languages. Darnit, now I want to know exactly how many languages are in use on the internet.
The software supports all of those languages in the app itself, as far as I can determine. So no matter where you are, Canva can probably talk with you in your chosen tongue.
Additional services include printing and… well, printing. But you can print just about anything: business cards, T-shirts, flyers, gift certificates… If you can design it, Canva will print it for you.
Okay great, so what won’t Canva do for you? Well, instead of generating logo graphics for you, Canva is trying to turn you, the customer, into a graphic designer.
It’s not a matter of whether you can create an interesting and unique logo with Canva. You certainly can. It’s a question of whether you have the time to build out a logo without the AI-driven tools that a specialty logo maker offers. And whether Canva is the best platform to get started with.
These days, when you can hire a professional designer on Fiverr to design your logo for as little as $5, it might not even be worth the bother.
It’s Almost Like a Real Graphics Editor
Okay, maybe that was a bit too sarcastic, but I said it with love. Canva’s not going to try to do everything for you, like other logo makers (such as Wix Logo Maker or Tailor Brands). The focus is on giving you a starting point, and letting you take care of the rest of the design.
To accomplish this, Canva gives you access to a wide variety of options (note that I said “options” and not “tools”) that allow you to add elements to your design and customize their size, colors, and so on. You can customize any element on the canvas, or remove it entirely. Your choices aren’t made for you by your template.
Just don’t expect to be able to draw your own objects, or do any of the other more advanced things you could do with software like Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Designer, or Inkscape.
Since this is a very do-it-yourself sort of app, you won’t get much AI help or a step-by-step design wizard. There is a quick, tooltip-based introductory tour of the app and its features, but not much beyond that.
You can use any colors you like, and create any palette you like… for the most part. It seems to be somewhat difficult to change the colors on certain premade icons and graphics. But there are a ton of those. There are icons and other assorted illustrations in just about every category, which I’ll tell you more about in a minute.
Some of Canva’s available graphics.
There is no functional limit on the number of text characters you can use. You can also use gradients, but it seems they only work for objects (such as drawings or background shapes) that were designed to have a gradient. Transparency and animation are supported, but only if you sign up for the Premium plan.
The templates are good-looking and stylish, trending toward modern and minimalist. While there aren’t too many of them, they make a fantastic starting point to help you create an original design. Really, you could just grab a template, change the text, and it would be fine for many purposes.
Some of Canva’s logo templates
Once you’ve created your logo, you can download it in PNG, JPG, and PDF formats. On the free plan, the PNG and JPG images will be rather small, at 500px by 500px. You can actually get around that limitation by downloading the PDF, opening it up in a vector editing program like the three I mentioned above, and exporting the image at a larger file size. Just make sure that you’ve got the same fonts installed on your computer as you used on Canva, or it won’t look right.
Interestingly, you can also download your images in video format (MP4), which might help if you want to use your logo in… well… a video. Keep in mind, though, that just about every good video editor these days supports PNG files just fine, so you probably won’t need this option.
Lastly, you can download an animated version of your logo as an MP4 or GIF. Mind you, taking this particular trip back to 1995 will require purchasing the premium plan.
It’s Free with Unlimited Edits
Now, this is a “freemium” app, so there are obviously some limits to what you can do without paying. For example, all the logo templates are stuck at the default 500px by 500px on the free plan, unless you download the PDF.
But for a website, a logo 500px wide is usually more than sufficient, and you can change up your design as many times as you need. You can make infinite edits both before and after you download your logo, all on the free plan. It’s quite hard to argue with that.
Everything’s Drag and Drop
It seems like a no-brainer, but not every logo maker actually has drag-and-drop design functionality. This one does, so you get a lot of creative freedom to make the exact logo layout you want. Guides and auto-snap help you keep everything nicely aligned, if that’s the look you’re going for. Drag and drop: all the cool kids are doing it.
You Can Add as Many Icons as You Want (And There’s a Massive Library of Them)… But There’s a Problem
Canva boasts, brags, and downright swaggers about the library of “millions” of premade icons and graphics you’ll have at your disposal. These icons and graphics are not all free, however. There are quite a few free ones, but the rest have to be bought individually, or unlocked all at once by subscribing to a premium plan.
Worse, you can’t include these graphics in your logo. According to Canva’s support site, you’re not actually supposed to use all those premade graphics in logos specifically. Oh, basic shapes, lines, and free fonts are all okay, as well as all the icons included in the logo templates.
The rules in question
It’s wonky that you’re not supposed to use one of Canva’s strongest features when you design logos. And you’d never know this rule unless you went to the support page. I don’t like that. I’ve still listed the massive library here, because in spite of this weird rule… it really is one of the best things about Canva.
One awesome thing, though, is that you can upload your own graphics (Yes, you can do this on the free plan.), and there are places to get free graphics all over the Internet. You are not limited to Canva’s libraries. And of course, any graphics you upload are fair game for your logo design.
There Are Strong Collaboration Features
If you want to show off a logo you’re working on, you can share it on social media seamlessly from within Canva. If you’re not ready for that, you can share your design with others on your team via email. You can also choose to allow them to edit the logo as they see fit, which makes Canva great for marketing teams.
My Experience with Canva Logo Maker
At the moment, we’re running a competition (sort of) with all the major logo design services we’ve tested. Basically, we need a new logo for Website Planet, and I’ve been given the job of testing all these services to get lots of different logo options. Once all’s said and done, the best logo I get will become a part of this site’s new brand. Click here to read about my experiences so far.
I have actually used Canva before in a limited fashion. Mostly, I was just messing around to see what it could do. Some time after I proposed to my significant other, I made this from a Kindle cover template:
Prior to working on this review, though, I had never made a logo with Canva’s platform. So I came in with a question: Is this going to be the same Canva editor I already know, or something more specialized for logos? Well, it’s basically the first one. Clicking the Start designing a custom logo button gives you access to all of the usual tools, but starts you off with logo design templates.
The actual process was quite similar to using a professional-grade design app, except kind of limited. Those limits are intentional, though, and they’re exactly what makes Canva relatively simple to use. Watch the video to see how I got it done.
And here’s the logo I made, in all of its somewhat zoomed-in glory:
Ease of use
With Great Power Comes a Bit of a Learning Curve
The only real downside to Canva’s resemblance to traditional graphics editors is that if you’ve never used a graphics editor before, it’ll take some getting used to. You can figure most of it out by clicking around, but you’ll have to do a bit more of that exploring than you would with simpler logo makers, like Tailor Brands or Looka.
Canva Works a Lot Like Other Graphics Editors
This is not much help to the truly uninitiated, but if you’ve used MS Paint, or played around in pretty much any other graphics editor, you’re going to have a head start for Canva. You will find Canva to be a lot simpler than most of the tools you’ve tried before, I suspect.
There’s a Lot of Integration with Other Services
Want to import a video (yes, video) from YouTube? Well, I’m not sure how that’ll help your logo, but you can do that. Want to grab photos from Instagram, or files from your Dropbox account? Canva makes this all very, very easy. Plus, it has all the usual social media network integration that you’d expect.
Canva Offers Tutorials and Basic Design Courses
Lastly, and probably most importantly for new users, Canva actually offers a wealth of tutorials for the app, as well as basic video courses on graphic design, social media, branding, and presentations. In other words, they don’t just teach you to use the app, they also try to teach you how to think like a designer.
If you’re someone who plans to do a lot of graphic design work, and you don’t have much experience, you might want to check out these courses even if you don’t plan to use the Canva app itself. They’re all free.
They’ll Talk to You, But Read the FAQ First
My interactions with Canva’s support team have been polite, but they’ve clearly got their system set up so customers will talk to them as little as possible. This is not necessarily a bad thing for two reasons:
- I’m a total introvert, talkative as I can be. So Canva team, I get it.
- It means they’ve answered almost every question you can think of in their help center.
And once the support section has answered your more technical questions, take a look at the aforementioned courses on how to use Canva. Unless something actually goes wrong (for example, if you don’t get access to something you paid for), you probably won’t ever need to talk to support.
There is a support email address you can write to directly, but it takes some work to find it. Also, when I wrote to ask if it would be possible to hire a third-party designer to work on a logo I made, I initially got an automated message telling me that the email address is not checked very often. Even so, after about two days, I did get an answer.
The agent, Jassie, did answer my question as helpfully as they could – though a simple “No, we don’t have a service for hiring designers” at the top could have provided clarity a bit faster.
This is where the Canva team really wants you to ask your random questions, I think. When I asked about the commercial rights for logos designed with Canva, they answered me in about an hour.
The Canva support website has all of its content divided into categories, as seen in the screenshot at the beginning of this section. Within each category, you can submit an issue if you’re having a problem in that specific area. There is no section for “just asking questions.”
I submitted a ticket detailing a problem I had with a downloaded PDF. Basically, the fonts look all wrong. I suspect this is because, as I said, you need to actually have the same fonts installed on your computer, but I decided to ask the support team about it directly.
Again, almost two days later, I got a response, which… didn’t exactly answer my question. Sure, this is the sort of script the team probably has to follow when dealing with a reported issue, but it almost feels like they ignored the actual content of my ticket:
I mean… free.
Okay, okay, it’s time to talk about the bits you actually have to pay for. You can buy extra illustrations and graphics for your designs one at a time. Or you can pay what I think is a reasonable monthly fee for access to the whole Canva library, transparent backgrounds, animated graphics, the ability to resize your graphics as much as you like, access to over 20,000 more templates, and more.
My only issue is that if you pay for an individual graphic, you can only use it in one design. If you want to use it again, you’ll have to pay for it again. Not even the most expensive font foundries will do that to you with their typefaces. I’m not a fan of this payment model.
On the whole, I’d recommend getting the Premium plan (which is probably the idea), and you can pay for that plan via Mastercard, VISA, American Express, or Discover.
There is a limited refund policy in place that’s specifically designed for when things go wrong, rather than for those times when you’re just not happy with graphics you purchased. If you have an actual problem with the service, you’ve got options. If you’ve got buyer’s remorse… may I suggest the comfort food of your choice?
You do, as mentioned in the tweet I showed above, get full commercial use rights for any logos you design. You do not get a trademark or copyright when using the premade templates, however. If you want to trademark a logo made with Canva, you need to design it from scratch, or commission someone else to do it.
At that point, you might as well use professional design software.