Canva 101: Create Cohesive Graphics in a Click

With all the hustle and bustle this time of year can bring, we wanted to share a few tips to help streamline your graphic-making process. We hope these suggestions will help you stress less, boost sales, and celebrate your holiday offerings this season!  

To start, last year, we shared a great resource for you that covered 10 Easy Holiday Images You Can Create To Boost Sales This Season. It includes mockups, headers, promos, and more to tout your wares for the holiday. Be sure to revisit this post to get your wheels turning and your sales churning!

As you can see from last year's post, there are soooo many graphics that you can include on your to-do list this season, but just the thought of creating them can be daunting to say the least. So with the start of the Holidays literally upon us, what's a creative biz owner to do?

Well, don't worry — we've got you covered because this tutorial will show you how to use Canva for Work to create cohesive graphics to use across different formats to drive traffic to your offers, services, events, and more.

I know you are busting at the seams to get to it, so let's get started!


Create Cohesive Graphics in a Click

In this post, we will touch on how to efficiently set up your graphics across a range of shapes and sizes using Canva for Work (CFW) to streamline the process. With CFW, we can take some of the smaller graphics that we need to create and batch process them to get through a large volume of different image sizes, all in one shot. 

Before you start

  • Decide what graphics you need for you upcoming sales, events, store closings, etc. We will be designing for: 1) Closed for Holidays,  2) Winter Sale,  3) Holiday Gift Guide.
  • Make note of each size you will need, ie. Facebook header, Pinterest cover, or Instagram graphic and keep that handy. We will create graphics for: 1) Facebook Event Graphic, 2) Instagram Graphic, 3) Pinterest Graphic.
  • Decide on your messaging, colors, find your images, and any embellishments you would like to use in your designs.
  • We will be using images from the new Haute Stock Holiday Collections along with complimentary colors, typefaces and messaging. 

Here are the graphic sets that we will create in the Tutorial video


And here are the 4 steps we will take to batch process without the stress!



Ready to WAtch the video Tutorial?

Open your Canva for Work account and sign in. If you don't have one, it's totally worth the investment for multiple reasons (hint, hint, early present for biz and self?). If you don't want to purchase it at this time, you can still follow this tutorial, you will just have to create new sizes for every graphic size that you need.

Now let's get wrappin'!


Here's a breakdown of what we learned in the video


1) In our opinion, the best place to start is with the widest graphic that you plan on using. We start with this because it's harder to find images to fit landscape graphics. So, by starting here, we know the most challenging layout will be resolved first and the other images can fall in from there. 

2) Set up each of the topics, ie. events, services, offers, etc. that you want to design for. Refine and tweak your colors, fonts, embellishments and messaging. Do a couple of layouts for each topic so you have a variety to choose from when you are done.

3) Select "Resize" from the main Canva menu and check off the graphic sizes that you need. You will witness the magic first hand! Canva will take the graphics you designed and will resize them to each of the graphic sizes that you selected. Sha'zam!

For example, we re-sized the Facebook header graphic above and turned it into an Instagram image below.

4) Now, the tool is NOT perfect, so you will still need to refine the layouts a bit, but not much! You might want to change the images to keep with the theme, maybe switch up some of the messaging, but now you have all of the topics you designed for, in all of the graphic sizes that you need...all at the touch of a button and a few little tweaks. Talk about time-saver, life-saver, and a little holiday cheer! 

So now that we have taken the overwhelm out of the graphic-making process, what graphics can you create for your upcoming sales or events? We'd love to see what you come up with. Be sure to tag us with #hautestockco so we can see the goods.

Ready to get your hands on the hundreds of holiday images inside the Haute Stock Membership? Find out more about the Styled Stock Library!

Wishing you a stress-free holiday season!


This post was written by LeAnna Weller Smith: Executive Creative Director, Weller Smith Design & Design Expert, Haute Stock.

How to create your Brand Style Guide, Why You Need it, and the Must-Haves!

Have you heard of a Brand Style Guide, or have you seen them on Pinterest and other blogs? Have you wondered how they are put together and how they can be used?

Well, look no further! We are going to break down all the pieces, PLUS give you a easy-to-use blank style guide template for you to set your very own up in a hot minute. 

Let's dig in and get started! 

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We all know that building a business is not a small endeavour, and creating a brand for your business can prove to be one of the most challenging aspects of the process.

To truly build a brand that you believe in, love, and want to nourish takes time and consistency. And without a consistent overall look, feel, and voice, you could have the most wonderful brand or product in your industry, but it'll get lost in the sea of sameness.

In order to stand out, you'll need to organize yourself and your brand assets to ensure that you are keeping up with the integrity of your brand that you have been working so hard to create. That's where a brand style guide comes in! 


What exactly IS a Brand Style Guide?

A Brand Style Guide is a collection of the core items used to represent your brand across any and all touch points. It can be delivered in different formats like a one-page document or a multi-page reference guide with specifications, it could be interactive, and more. As you can see from some of your own fav brands, they have a consistent look and feel across the many ways that you come in contact with them. This not only continues through their aesthetic appeal, but also their messaging and more.   


Why do you need one?

A Brand Style Guide has many uses — the main being to help provide consistency across your brand. For instance, if you're having a photographer take brand photos of you, a style guide will come in handy for them to get the gist of your brand and its visual vibe in one glance. You can also use it to choose what to wear and how to style your shoot. Or, if you're trying to pick out stock photos for your visuals, you can use your guide as a reference point to make sure the images you're choosing are on-brand. 

It also serves as a guide as you grow your brand to keep you from straying too far from your core elements. And if you have a Virtual Assistant, you can pass this document off to them and they can pull together graphics seamlessly for your brand saving you lots of energy, time, and moolah!


The Must-Haves

There are a few different things you should always include on your Brand Style Guide, and below are our top 6 suggestions. If you don't have all of the items listed below, no worries — you can always fill them in as you get more familiar with your brand, or you can substitute other items to fill yours out with a more personal touch that makes sense for you. 

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1 / Start with Your Logo

If you already have a logo that you love, that's the best place to start. You can include your logo at the top of the guide and include any variations or logo marks that have been created for your brand. 

Pro Tip: If you don't have a logo and are just starting out with your business, then we suggest starting from the bottom of the Brand Style Template and work your way up this list.

Why? So that you start with photo inspiration and then work your way up the sheet to help you clarify your brand. Then you can use the work you completed with your designer to create a logo you love and one that fits within your overall design aesthetic. You don't have to hold off of your creating your own Brand Style Guide even if you're in the beginning phases of your business! 

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2 / Textures and/or Design Elements

Additional design elements can help to further clarify your brand and make you stand out among others in your industry. Don't use textures and design elements just 'cause — be strategic with them and select those that compliment your overall theme. Be sure to select elements that can be used in a few different ways, like icons that can be used faded back behind text blocks, overlays that can draw the viewers eye in, etc. 

Pro Tip: The Haute Stock library has a variety of Graphic Packs in different colorways, themes, and styles, so you can pick and choose the elements that compliment your brand! The textures and elements used in this post are all from the Graphics Packs inside the Haute Stock membership library.

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3 / Typography 

If you already have a logo, chances are you have at least a typeface or two that you're using often or have paired with your logo to get you started. Be sure to include these on your style guide, along with a type sample and the name of the typeface. If you are using the typefaces for a specific part of your brand content like titles, text, etc, also mention that on your board so that whoever comes in contact with this guide knows the details of how you expect these typefaces to be used within your brand.

Pro Tip: Need some type inspiration? Revisit our Video Tutorial: The Art of Choosing the Right Typeface to get you started or if you are looking to refresh your type palette! 

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4 / Tagline, Messaging, or Key Words

It can also be useful to include any key words or phrases that you use throughout your brand touch points. Visuals are always the go-to for style guides, but messaging can also help to further define the overall tone of your brand. If you have something that you've been using, you can definitely include it in your guide to further define your brand. 

Pro Tip: Do a word search to find words that resonate with you and your brand and include 3-5 that convey how you would like to be perceived by your audience. This will allow you to "check in" with those words/feelings when you are creating new content, adding to your brand, etc, and will help you to stay consistent in a more cohesive way than with just image and visuals.

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5 / Color Palette

Your logo will more than likely have a color or two included in it, so you'll definitely want to include those in the color portion of your style guide. Our suggestion is to also include a few other colors that go well with your base or brand colors that provide some pop for eye-catching callouts and colors that can help ground your designs.

Pro Tip: Experiment with your color palette to find the right fit for you. Do your research and be sure to check out our post on the topic: Color Your Brand with Confidence - 4 Steps to Building the Perfect Palette, where we talk about different ways to search for and select colors to best work for your brand. 

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6 / Photo Styles

Imagery is a big part of your brand style guide. If you don't use images that resonate with your brand, you could end up with a really confused audience. Do your research to find images that fit well with the overall aesthetic you're aiming for, check in with your selected words, tag line, mission statement, etc. Styled stock is a great resource when it comes to finding images to fit within your palette of colors and typefaces. Find images that have the same overall look, feel, and tone, and don't be afraid to use color overlays and gradients to make the images more your own. Need help finding the right photos for your needs? See our recent post: How to Choose Styled Stock Photos For Your Brand

Pro Tip: If you're just starting out and don't have a logo, color palette or typefaces yet, don't stress! You can start here and move your way backwards through this guide to get you started. Find images that resonate with you, start to pick colors from their palette, and go from there!

And if you want to take your styled stock further, don't be afraid to experiment! Check out our tutorial to help you get creative with your photo choices: Video Tutorial: How to Customize Stock Photos Using Filters, Gradients and Overlays

Putting it All Together

Once you have all the elements from above, you can pull everything together into your very own Brand Style Guide. It's a great way to organize all of your elements and to use as a reference point for you and any other contractors or service providers that may work with you and your brand. Don't forget, you can always tweak your Brand Style Guide and refine it as your brand grows. 

Check out these three brand style guide examples we created using all the SAME name and tag lines for our made-up coffee shop.

The last two brand style guides even use the same stock photos, but each one has a very different look and feel because of the colors, typefaces, image treatments, and design elements used to make each one of these brands unique. 

Just a little inspiration of all the possibilities available to you as you start to build your own palette!



To get you started on creating your own Brand Style Guide, we have a FREE Blank Template for you to download and use! 



So there you have it — the must-haves for creating a brand style guide that will help you create unique and cohesive visuals. As always, we would love to see what you come up with after you go through this tutorial. Be sure to share your creations with us!

Until next time, keep on styling!

The Haute Stock Team

This post was written by LeAnna Weller Smith: Executive Creative Director, Weller Smith Design & Design Expert, Haute Stock


This post was written by LeAnna Weller Smith: Executive Creative Director, Weller Smith Design & Design Expert, Haute Stock.

Color Your Brand with Confidence - 4 Steps to Building the Perfect Palette

This guest post was written by LeAnna Weller Smith: Executive Creative Director, Weller Smith Design (and our resident Design Expert!) 

In our last design tutorial, we took you on an adventure to Crack the Image Code. We looked at how to select and use styled stock photos in unique ways to enhance your brand with creative cropping, strategic white space, and more.

If you missed it, be sure to check it out here: How to Choose Styled Stock Photos for Your Brand.

Now in this post, we are talking all about COLOR. I absolutely LOOooOOve working with color. I used to color on my grandmother's walls when I was a little girl, my book shelves are organized by color, and most of my design work involves tons of different color studies.

While I live and breathe in living color, for so many solopreneurs or small business owners, color seems to be one of the trickiest aspects when it comes to designing for your brand. And just to be clear, creating color palettes can be difficult for both DIYers as well as designers, so don't think it's only you that struggles to find just the right color palette for you or your client.


What makes working with color so tricky is that there are so many nuances...there is the psychology of color and why different colors work better for different topics, evoke specific feelings, or bring out different responses from those who interact with them.

We could talk about the color wheel and what colors should go together according to the basics of understanding primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, along with tints, tones and shades... See?! SO. MANY. NUANCES!

I've worked with many small businesses and entrepreneurs on their branding and firmly believe that even if you select colors using methods and meanings, you will never fully connect with your brand or attract the tribe of your dreams, if you don't also take into consideration your own personal style, preferences, and aesthetic.

I think all of the above are an important part in understanding how color impacts every brand and each topic merits its own post for sure! However, what I want to do in this post is give you the tools and direction to get started — to inspire you to finally get your brand out there or help you update your current color palette with confidence in knowing that you are selecting a great set of colors that can be refined and tweaked as you continue to define your brand.

Sound good? LET'S DO THIS!

OK, there are a few things that I will call "prep work" when getting ready to work on your brand colors or color palette: 


1 / Do A Deep Dive: What do you REALLY want your brand to say about you? 

Before you start looking at colors, take some time to think about your brand and what you want to convey with the overall look and feel. Put together a list of words and phrases that resonate with you, your target market, and the products or services that you are selling.

Think about things like: What do you really want to be known for? How do you want others to see you and your brand? What should come to mind when someone comes across your brand organically? Describe your brand in 5-6 words.

We start with words because they can help provide insight into what to actually search for when it comes to feelings and colors.

Need help finding words or phrases? At the end of the post there's a link to grab our super helpful (and free!) Color Inspiration Kit.

If you find that you are coming up with simple words or terms, take a look at a thesaurus to give you more options or to find something more powerful that resonates with you. Pick 3-5 words or phrases that you absolutely LOVE and start there.

I am choosing these words for my example below:


2 / Research, research, research!

This is one step that you CANNOT skip — do your research! Take the words that you found and start your image search on sites like Pinterest, Desinspiration, or Behance

Some (brand specific) words you might use to start your search are: romantic, feminine, empowering, retro, vibrant, etc. You may also want to search with a specific color in mind to see what other colors are paired with it.

No matter where you begin, you should create a private Pinterest board or some sort of collection of your favorite images that you come across. Once you have images saved that you like, you will begin to see a pattern develop among those that you have been collecting; making it easier to pull colors for your branding. 

Here's a few examples that highlight how multiple word searches reveal completely different graphics and colors:

Now that you've completed your color "prep work", it's time to dive in to find out how to create your brand color palette! 



Here comes the fun part — mixing and matching colors! For some, this might seem like the most daunting part, however, if you follow these 4 easy steps, you will be well on your way to your perfect brand color palette!


1 / Narrow down the images that were collected in your research.

Pick 5 or 6 favorites and take them into your preferred design program, ie. Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Canva or any other online tool. If you select colors from a program that doesn't come with a color picker, be sure to install one for your browser so you can pinpoint colors and pull their color value or hex code.

These are images that I selected from my graphic word search that I did earlier for Sophisticated, Powerful and Elevated:


Now that you have narrowed down your selection:

2 / Pull colors from the different images gathered and begin to build your color palette.

This won't happen instantaneously! Trust me — even seasoned professionals rely on trial and error when picking the best colors. Usually we get to use color swatch books that allow us to move the chops around, making sure the colors go well, but when you are picking colors on a screen, you'll test quite a few swatches before finding the perfect match!  

These are colors that I selected from my image search. This took time and I had to sample several different colors before I was happy with the results. Assume that you will have to experiment a little as well, but it's fun to see it start to come together! You may end up with more colors than I have, but that is ok — Step 3 will help narrow down your selections. 


Once you have selected colors to work with:

3 / Narrow down the number of colors selected, ending up with 5-6 colors for your brand palette.

Check out the template I created —  it can be downloaded and then uploaded into your favorite editing tool (scroll down to download it!). It has spaces for the colors you've selected, giving you a place to see how they come together. Some advanced color users might choose to use more colors but to keep it simple lets stick with 5 to 6.

Below is a break down of the type of colors you will need for a well-rounded brand color palette:


Within these colors, you will need:

  1. 2 base (or brand) colors,
  2. 2 action colors,
  3. 2 grounding colors.

1 - The 'base colors' can be your brand colors, the darker colors in your palette, or the colors from your logo, photos, etc.

2 - The 'action colors' will provide that little "pop" to highlight important items and can be used for buttons, callouts etc. These colors can be brighter or bolder so that they command a little more attention across all the colors when grouped together.

3 - And finally, the 'grounding colors' which are more subdued and could be variations of the two base or brand colors that you selected. These colors will provide room for your design to breathe, yet still provide some color to balance your design.

Once you have decided on your starter set of colors, you can tweak them until they feel like they flow well together. Again, you can refine these as you become more comfortable using color.

A little trick I learned in design school was to squint your eyes and look at your colors together. If they sort of blend together when you look at them, you are on the right track. If one of the colors pops out too much because it is either too bright or too light, you might want to consider tweaking that color.

BUT, sometimes that is exactly what you are going always go with what feels right to you. (BTW, that tip from school is probably why I wear glasses now ;) - but the trick really does work, especially when you are looking for colors that are in the same tonal range!)


4 / Now that your colors are in place, it's time to get the party started!

Grab your colors and start putting them together with your brand photos, brand fonts, messaging, etc. Don't feel like you need to use ALL of the colors in each layout or design that you create. Feel free to play with the way you use the colors — try using color blocks, color type, boxes, washes, illustrations, rules, etc. that use your brand colors.

Also, pay attention to your photos! If you're searching the Haute Stock styled stock library, pick images that either include your brand colors or have a neutral palette so they fit in with your colors.

Or, get creative by using overlays and gradients to get more traction out of styled images with your brand (see our post How to Customize Stock Photos using Filters, Gradients, & Overlays). By using photos with your brand colors incorporated, you don't need to feel obligated to overuse the flat colors from your palette. 

Below is what I came up with for my Sophisticated, Powerful and Elevated BEAUTY BRAND!

This shows that you don't have to fall within the tried and true color palettes for your brand. Most beauty brands might follow the Feminine palette but using my bold colors and subdued grounding colors, it really brings my beauty brand to a whole new level!


So there you have it, you have created your first color palette — congratulations!

To keep you inspired, enter your email below for a couple of downloads that I created to help you on your way to defining your own "perfect" color palette!

I hope this exercise helped take the guesswork out of choosing colors for your brand.

As I mentioned before, there are definitely more technical ways to go about choosing colors, but I think this will help you get started quickly and with confidence!

If you take this tutorial for a test run, be sure to share your final color palettes with us. Like I said, I absolutely LOVE working with color and if you get stuck, I can take a look and let you know what I see from your research to help guide you further. 


Be sure to check out the video tutorial for even more HELPFUL TIPS!


"I prefer living in color" —David Hockney

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