I’m in a few small business groups on Facebook, and a name that pops up all the time for DIY logo-making is Canva logo maker.
I’m in two minds about it: on one hand, it could be a useful tool! On the other hand, DIY logos can not only put talented, hardworking people out of a profession, but can be very poor quality - because the person designing hasn’t had access to the tools they didn’t know they needed for a logo that displays and prints properly.
But Canva? I’d honestly never used it. I didn’t know how good it was, and I wanted to know if it was actually a useful tool at a good price - without letting my designer bias get in the way.
So to find out… I signed up, and made a logo! Step-by-step, let’s go through my logo-making process on Canva to answer the question… Can free logo makers produce good results?
Stage 1: Exploring the Tools
Let’s say I’m making a design for a boutiquey, upmarket florist. At the moment I’m sticking with the free version of Canva, because the aim is to make a great FREE logo.
I can see some elements I can use right away – some flowers, and some text templates. These are cute and well-thought-out. Let’s pick a couple.
Okay, this looks alright.
At this stage I’m quite happy with Canva - there’s quite a bit in its free library, the graphics are good quality, signup is easy, and the layout is intuitive.
Stage 2: Troubleshooting
Then I start to run into problems.
Something that’s really annoying me is that when I go to press “Undo” it reverts me back to a really early stage of my design, and I don’t know why. Might be a glitch.
At first I thought I couldn’t do letter spacing and was unimpressed, but then I saw that both line height and letter spacing are accounted for under the “Spacing” tab with the line icon. That’s cool.
I tried to add a stroke to my text and realised I couldn’t. Some tutorials said you could just add a shadow instead by duplicating the text, but I didn’t like the look and gave up.
I wonder if you can use fonts that aren’t in your library, and see that you can upload them – I’m pleasantly surprised. Though, I think non-designers who aren’t familiar with font files might find that process a bit difficult.
I decide to add a grey circle background instead of a stroke, and my logo's looking pretty good. There are some problems, but overall Canva is still getting a tick from me.
Stage 3: The First Nail in the Coffin
I can’t have a transparent background unless I upgrade to Canva Pro for $13.99 a month.
That literally means you cannot use the free version of Canva if you want a good logo. You need to have a transparent background on a logo. Why? You tell me. Which looks better –
I sign up for a trial of Canva Pro so that I can have a transparent background, and now I’m happy. But it means you’re now paying for your logo - remember that.
I'm honestly really cranky about this transparency-witholding, because it's sneaky. They know almost everyone is going to need transparency, so they know they'll make money by hiding it behind a paywall after giving you a free taste but not allowing you to finish it properly. At least they offer the premium subscription as a trial, I guess.
Stage 4: Where’s the drawing feature?
I’m now on the Canva Pro and expect to be able to do more things. For one thing, I want to have more customisability instead of just being presented with a library of templates.
I’m not a fan of only having preselected Canva templates to use. While it’s easy, the problem is that when enough people use this app, you look at a Canva logo and go “oh, I’ve used that template. It’s a DIY job.”
I look around for a way to draw my own designs and make my logo really custom, but they’re sadly not there. A quick Google search confirms that you still can’t draw on Canva, it’s a template app only.
Are you f#$^@ing joking?
Sadly, this means Canva Pro isn’t going to work either – There’s no way I’m paying $13.99 a month for this when it’s only $27 per month for the industry-leading, professional, draw-and-create-to-your-heart’s-desire Adobe Illustrator… or $22 per month for the entire Creative Cloud if you’re a student or teacher.
Honestly, Canva has let me down here by not offering complete customisation even on the paid plan. You can upload your own drawing… but what’s the point if that means you now have to pay for two programs?
Stage 5: Okay, It's not for me. But could it work for you?
There are a few key things that need to be ticked off in a logo: vector file, transparent background, original design. We know there is transparency, but it has to be paid for; and unfortunately it fails full originality because you can only create with templates. The last thing we need to determine to see if Canva passes is if their designs are vector files – that is, scalable without quality loss.
Let’s see what happens when I download my file. Is the PDF vector? We’ll have to zoom in to find out and see if there are pixels or not.
And… it’s clear and crisp, even as close as you can get!! That’s a win. Well done Canva Pro for supplying vector files.
I’ll open it in Adobe Illustrator and check out whether the background is transparent.
And… yes, it is! And I can move the elements around. That’s great. I didn’t expect the PDF design to be editable.
The only thing is, the font is missing… but from a look online this seems to be a free font with open licensing, so I can just download and install that font.
At a minimum, you've got a downloadable vector logo that you can use for business. It's not fully original and you don't have full ownership of it, but like, it's a logo.
Canva is nice. The interface is easy and intuitive to use, the graphics are high-quality, and you get some cool options on the free plan of the logo maker. But, it just doesn’t stack up to other design software for a professional business presence and I’m disappointed by the way they restrict features. I’ve cancelled my trial now and won’t be using it again unless a client needs it to collaborate.
Having said that, there are some non-design features of Canva I do really like! In particular, their ‘Learn’ section stands out – having free content on ways to create a memorable logo is great. I'd use this information to create something elsewhere. https://www.canva.com/learn/logos-for-beginners/ I also think Canva is probably great for things like invitations, presentations and graphs.
Canva Logo Maker
Pros: Ease of use, free version available, you can upload fonts for unlimited choices
Cons: Canva Pro is not free, key design features are not available without upgrading, you cannot draw freehand, you can subscribe to Adobe programs for not much more.
Do you use Canva to design your logos and find it works for you? Or do you have another favourite program instead? Let me know in the comments!