Brand & Business: Canva Philippines — Democratizing Design and a New Approach to Work Culture

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A few years back, I was a digital freelancer on Upwork, with a couple of clients mostly situated in Australia. If I could tell you the number of times Canva has saved me from presentations, constant revisions, quick social media cards and numerous other situations, we would be up all night. Although I did have all the advanced softwares needed to make designs and layouts, it was simply an easier option to use the design platform, especially when pressed with time.

The company, dedicated to the democratization of design, was a favorite among my clients from their event posters to the infographics of their social media accounts; Canva was the resounding go--to platform of many start-up companies and budding entrepreneurs. So it made sense that in less than a decade, the design platform start-up reached unicorn status (just last year), making it one of the fastest growing and most promising female-led tech companies in the world.

How Canva Philippines is Democratizing Design through Its Online Graphic Design Tool

Rising Valuation, Expanding Reach

Canva recently announced its new valuation of US$3.2 billion, raising an additional US$85 million dollars from high-profile investors Mary Meeker’s Bond, General Catalyst, Bessemer Venture Partners, Blackbird, and Sequoia China – a far reach from where it was when the company began in 2012.

When it started, the goal really was to empower the world to design. The target was everybody. Everybody in the world no matter where your location is no matter what language you speak, no matter what education you studied. Now, its pretty much still the same mission but it has evolved into a design to publishing system as well so Canva is now a comprehensive one stop shop design and publishing tool for everybody,” shares Yani Donato, Canva Philippines’ Country Manager.  

Canva is available in over 190 languages worldwide with over 20 million users worldwide, a large leap from when it first started with only English as its available language, proving the platform’s range and usability across the globe. Aside from our laptop screens, you can also download it as an app for your iPads and mobile phones on both iOS and Android. While its success is mostly attributed to how user-friendly the platform is for seasoned and newbie designers alike, at the core of its progress is how the company also pays equal attention to the people behind the program.

Employee-centric Hub

The Philippine headquarters was established in 2014 with only 8 employees.In the beginning, we had a huge customer happiness team and then it very quickly expanded to marketing teams, designers, operations, shared service, social media performance and the like,” shares Donata.  Fast forward to today, Canva Philippines has 200 employees, with their office space accumulating 5 floors (!) of the building they’re in. The company is also aiming to double their number of workers by next year.

“What we wanna do is to enable the workspace as well to be a hub for people — just like the product — to be a one stop shop space for everybody so what that means is that we have an open office set up which means that people can comfortably move around.And true to Donato’s words, the open working environment provides a space for growth and productivity, not to mention a lot of perks any outsider would enjoy. 

Although working hours start rather early (7am to accommodate the time difference with their Sydney office), employees can enjoy an open layout office, moving around the space depending on their mood. Does your back hurt too much from all the slouching? Perhaps, you’d rather stand while finishing your presentation? The company desks are adjustable according to one’s needs. There are various meeting rooms situated on each floor and private rooms as well are also available if you want to work alone, or perhaps need some quiet time.

On the sixth floor, the entire space is a pantry and a full suite kitchen with a team of chefs who prep both breakfast and lunch, and a barista ready to serve great coffee. As a rule, everyone is to have lunch together by 12 noon. 

Another wonderful mission of Canva is their drive for supporting mental health needs. Quiet rooms are available for anyone, as well as uplifting messages you can draw from one corner of the sixth floor, even a life coach on standby.

I was particularly jealous of how the employees could join groups and have budgets for their niche activities. From having a sports team, to a board game club, to even a group that aims to feed the building cats (Cats of Canva, as they’d like to call it), the company is almost like a university filled with different organizations you can join.

2020 will be a new phase for Canva Philippines as the company will be focusing on strategic partnerships and at the same time marketing campaigns to increase brand awareness and user acquisitions here in the country. The platform is also exploring possible partnerships with students, freelancers, and small to medium enterprises. They’re also expanding their range of services.

Canva for Enterprise and Canva Pro Affiliate Program

Fueled by its mission to empower the world to design, Canva expands its services to cater to the needs of large Filipino businesses with the introduction of Canva for Enterprise. With Canva for Enterprise, large organizations can ensure all designs created are on brand, by facilitating collaboration with teams via a digital asset management platform, integrated workflow tools, and brand control features. 

“Sometimes the branding collaterals are not consistent so Canva for enterprise has a feature which enables teams to really set pre defined brand assets and at the same time it has a really good approval workflow setting,” states Donato.

While Canva for Enterprise is custom-built for large teams, Canva Pro is designed to boost productivity and empower small business owners, content creators, and marketers with its time-saving design features. Whether you’re a team of one or an online business owner who has just started, Canva Pro will empower you to take your business to the next level.

Canva Pro Marketing Affiliate Program, on the other hand, aims to help people earn through referrals of Canva pro so there is a screening process but everyone can apply for free so if you’re someone with a huge design following online or just a large audience audience in general or a famous design educator, you can go online, search for Canva pro marketing affiliate and apply for free.”

Photographs by Mohd Sarajan

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