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Five MUST-use Canva Features (THAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT)

By Bryce Allen

Square with Canva's blue background and the word "Canva" in their brand font

Since the 90s, Adobe Photoshop has been the one-stop-shop for marketing and design professionals. Yet, in recent years, with the growing prevalence of social media, and the blurring of professional and influencer marketing, Adobe’s difficult-to-master and expensive software hasn’t been for everyone. Enter: Canva.


Over the last few years Canva has taken the marketing world by storm as a free alternative to Photoshop that’s easy to use, doesn’t require crazy computer specs, and is accessible for both marketers and non-marketers. According to Style Factory, Canva even recently exceeded “100 million monthly active users in over 190 countries.”


With Canva’s boom in popularity among marketers and influencers, learning the tips and tricks of the platform has become a must for any savvy social media user or influencer.


With that in mind, we want to show you the FIVE must-use Canva features that we think are flying under the radar.


These features are perfect for marketers who need to make something fast, Bookstagrammers looking to spice up their feeds, or any user who wants to make their books stand out from the crowd.


Stock image of an old, weathered book on a wooden table. A red, crisp leaf sits on the pages and a cup of coffee is blurred in the bavkground
An example of Canva's available stock imagery

1. Stock Images


We'd be remiss if we didn't start the conversation about Canva's incredible features by bringing up their stock imagery catalogue.


While it's a fairly obvious part of Canva's design process as the imagery pulls through into elements searches, what's often overlooked is the extent of the catalogue.


Included in the Apps section of Canva's interface, you can find links to all of the separate databases from which the platform pulls images. Knowing exactly what each of these databases provides lets you cut through the inaccurate suggestions from broader searches and lets you target more specific elements to complement your designs. For example, if you want a sticker then Stipop is the app for you, whereas a search for a photo is better suited to Pixabay.


Learning where to search for specific images can not only increase efficiency in your design process but also yield better and more creative results that will help your books stand out!


To explore Canva's stock imagery databases:

  • First, open a new design.

  • Navigate to Apps at the bottom of the design bar and scroll to the "Discover content from" section.

  • Click on the individual app you want to check out, find out what their database holds, and get stuck in!


A screenshot of Canva's Whiteboard basics tutorial which teaches users how to utilise Whiteboard
Canva's Whiteboard basics learning module teaches you all you need to know about the feature!

2. Whiteboard

Introduced in 2022, Whiteboard is Canva’s multimedia teamwork feature. Whiteboard is a space where teams can come together in real-time to collaborate on digital designs. The space is unlimited in contrast to Canva’s typical designs which are sized for your chosen platform so teams can work together on ideas for entire campaigns rather than only individual assets.


Whiteboard also includes a variety of tools to help guide the collaboration: templates group together ideas so teams can focus on creative output rather than the admin of designing cohesive note-taking documents; the timer function keeps teams in sync across devices, even when not on video call; the comments feature allows anyone to jump in with questions in real time.


As Whiteboard is relatively new, we expect to see big updates for its functionality in the near future. This feature is definitely one for book marketing teams to watch over the coming year!


To use the Whiteboard feature:

  • Open the Canva main page.

  • Choose the third icon, "Whiteboards", in the "What will you design today?" task bar.

  • Pick a template that works for you!

  • You can also open a blank Whiteboard by choosing to create a new design.



The NG Creative Brand Kit colours. At the top is the phrase "Colours from your logo" and below, left to right, are blocks of navy, white, dark pink, and light pink
The NG Creative Brand Colours. Spot any you recognise?

3. Brand Kits

If you run your own brand or social media channel then you know that consistency is key!


Repeatedly nailing the tone and aesthetic of your brand is vital if you want to establish an identity that is memorable. And something that can help this effort is Canva’s Brand Kits.


Brand Kits let you group together logos, colours, and fonts associated with your brand, giving you quick access to them when you’re creating a design. You can even create your own templates to further streamline the design process and limit your colour options to those in your brand kit for complete consistency.


Regardless of how strict you want to be about your brand’s aesthetic, using the Brand Kit and giving yourself quick access to the things your viewers have come to expect is a no-brainer when it comes to brand creation.


To get started with Brand Kits:

  • Locate "Brands" in the Tools section of Canva's home screen.

  • Add your logos, colours, and fonts to the Brank Kit. You can also create templates and brand controls here.

  • When creating a design, your Brand Kit options will appear at the top of the elements section for any design you're making!

  • Note: Brand Kits are only available on Canva Pro.


The Styles tab on a Canva design. At the top are suggested colour palettes. Below that is suggested font sets. Finally, there are suggested image palettes which have been pulled from images used in this article.
The Styles tab on a Canva design

4. Styles

Not sure how to match colours or fonts? With so many options for both, creating a simple design can often become overwhelming but Canva’s Styles feature can take the stress out of the process.


Styles lets you choose from pre-selected colour palettes and font sets to find design choices that are complementary. When you find a colour or font set that you like, you need only click to apply it to your design. You even have control over the dominant colours in your chosen set as a simple re-click shuffles the set and changes which colours or fonts are dominant. No more overthinking about which shade of orange works best with the yellow you’ve been eyeing in your design.


Bonus: Styles can use your Brand Kit or even pull a colour palette from any images you’re using to find something that perfectly fits your design.


To make the most of Styles:

  • Open a new design.

  • Choose the "Design" tab in the left-hand task bar.

  • Beside "Templates", you'll find "Styles".

  • Styles will come pre-loaded with your Brand Kit and you can scroll to find suggested colour palettes for your images. You can also search here for keywords like "cute" or "lively" if you're not set on any particular colour scheme or font style.



An AI rendering of a "Bookstagram Post". Against a black background sits an open book. To the left, a closed book creeps into the shot. Above both are coffee shop staples - coffee, cake, and what looks like a tea pot edging into the scene.
Canva's AI rendering of a "Bookstagram Post" done in the style of a photograph

5. Text to Image Search

Canva’s foray into the world of AI, the new Text to Image Search feature is an exciting development that can help you find some truly unique elements for your designs. The instructions for the feature couldn’t be easier, simply “Describe the image you want to see” and by typing what you want and choose a style (concept art, photo, painting, drawing, or 3D). Canva will then render what it thinks you want, with accuracy changing based on how specific you’ve been with the request.


For social media users, this tool can create some really fun book-related ideas for your feed. Think AI renderings of the Twilight saga or what your favourite book boyfriend looks like according to Canva.


For professionals, use should be more restrained and limited to small elements rather than entire designs to avoid controversies surrounding the use of AI art.


Regardless of intent, the Text to Image Search feature is a fun tool that we can’t wait to see develop and become further refined in the coming months!


To have fun with Text to Image Search:

  • Find Text to Image Search in the "Apps" section of a new design.

  • Type exactly what you'd like your image to be and choose a style for the finished product.

  • Canva will provide four options for what they think you'd like but you can render more.

  • Anything you choose will then be saved as an uploaded image so you can keep the AI image for future designs.

Canva has grown exponentially over the last few years, and we wouldn’t be surprised if they release new features in 2023 that need to be added to this list. From innovative team functionality to refined AI design, we’re excited to see where Canva helps us take book marketing next.


As always, if you need any further help with your design needs, don’t hesitate to contact us at natasha@ng-creative.co.uk for all the latest tips and trick to make your books stand out from the crowd!

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