Unless you’re a graphic designer, you’ve probably come to know and love a certain graphic design tool for its ease of use, elaborate library, and built-in templates. For those of us who are not design-gifted, Canva has quickly become THE go-to design tool around.
Businesses need so many different graphics, and Canva has made it so simple for business owners to keep up with that constant flow. They’ve also made it incredibly easy to create your own offers, or parts of your offers. Need a workbook for a course you’ve made? Or a client style guide to send to your clients? Canva allows for even the design-challenged to create beautiful designs in a fraction of the time.
But have you ever wondered -am I actually allowed to sell what I’ve created if I’m using designs and elements from Canva?!
Unsurprisingly, the answer to whether you can use Canva for commercial purposes isn’t exactly cut and dry. Canva has given some basic guidelines, though:
But what does that actually mean??
First, let’s start with the types of accounts you can get within Canva. There are two types of content within Canva - Free and Pro. The free version allows users to create and design content, but there are limitations regarding the commercial use of those designs. These designs often include Canva watermarks, as they don’t provide the necessary licensing for business-related materials.
Canva Pro, on the other hand, is a paid subscription that offers additional features and greater flexibility for commercial use. It’s designed specifically to cater to entrepreneurs and small businesses. You can create and use designs without watermarks, and have access to a much larger library of elements and templates. The license that comes with Canva Pro permits you to use Canva content for marketing, promotional, and other commercial materials.
BUT, none of that really covers whether or not you cansell what you’ve created, and how to use the various elements correctly.
Canva has a massive library of stock photos, especially for those who have a Canva Pro account. But are you allowed to use them in your commercial designs? Yes, but there are a few guidelines Canva wants you to keep in mind.
First, you cannot use stock photos of people to promote goods or services if the design is considered offensive in any way. You also cannot portray someone as a brand advocate or as a genuine customer. For example: having a real testimonial, but a stock image of a specific person from Canva is a no-no if it implies said testimonial is linked to that person in the image. You can, however, use stock photos of people that don’t imply the testimonial is from the person in the image.
In addition to massive amounts of stock photos, there are also a plethora of templates inside of Canva to help get non-designers started with their designs. It should come as no surprise that there are guidelines to how you can and can’t use these templates in commercial settings.
First, you can’t modify a design and then trademark it - because you can’t claim exclusive rights. Your design will be too similar to the other Canva designs that everyone who uses has access to. So, if you plan to create a logo or some other design, that you plan to trademark? It would be best to start from scratch.
In addition, existing templates must be modified in order to sell them as well. So, yes, you can sell what you take and modify it into your own design. HOWEVER - if your designs use Pro Content, the link must link to the Canva documenton Canva. That way, Canva can ensure that royalties are paid out correctly to their creators who contribute to the Pro Library.
Bottom Line: A stock photo, graphic, or template on its own cannot be sold as your own design. But when you incorporate multiple elements, it becomes a unique composition - meaning you can claim it as your own and sell it. Provided you’re following the above guidelines when you do, you can use Canva for commercial purposes.
And, speaking of templates - did you know we have a MASSIVE library of contract templates for small business owners? If you love the ease of using templates on Canva, you’ll love our Contract Templates even more - they can be set up in less than 10 minutes, and protect your business all at the same time!
Amanda Warfield is a simplicity-focused content marketing and launch strategist, author of the book Chasing Simple Marketing, and host of Chasing Simple - a podcast to help creative entrepreneurs uncomplicate their marketing and business. She traded in her classroom lesson plans for speaking and educating creative entrepreneurs on sustainably fitting content marketing into their business, without it taking over their business - so that they have time to grow their business.
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