What can marketers learn from Canva’s growth? – Interview with Head of Marketing, Europe; Amanda Zafiris

Amanda Zafiris, Head of Marketing (Europe), Canva
Podcast notes Key Takeaways: Practical Tips: Final Thoughts: Transcript Speaker 1: There was so much noise all over social media after the fact and I think the message clearly landed because people were talking so much about the wrap and yes I think even at founder level we spoke about this in our all company […]

Podcast notes

Key Takeaways:

  1. Authenticity and Taking Risks:
    • Canva’s marketing success is attributed to its authenticity and willingness to take risks, even if it means appearing silly to some.
    • The company values real and genuine interactions, which resonates with their audience and fosters pride among employees.
  2. Building a Positive Company Culture:
    • Canva’s culture emphasizes inclusivity, fun, and well-being. This includes features like wellness rooms and communal lunches.
    • The founders’ commitment to a positive culture is evident through traditions like cooking lunch for employees and promoting work-life balance.
  3. Focus on Community and Customer Engagement:
    • Canva invests heavily in understanding its users through local marketers, community managers, and user research.
    • Regular touchpoints with the community, both online and offline, ensure that Canva remains closely connected to its users’ needs and feedback.
  4. Global Expansion and Localization:
    • Canva’s growth strategy includes significant focus on global expansion and localization, ensuring that marketing efforts resonate with diverse cultures.
    • Local marketers play a crucial role in adapting marketing strategies to fit regional preferences and trends.
  5. Innovation and Product Development:
    • Continuous innovation is key to Canva’s success. The company regularly introduces new features and integrations to meet the evolving needs of users.
    • Examples include new tools for sales and HR, and seamless integration features that enhance productivity and collaboration.
  6. Word-of-Mouth and Organic Growth:
    • Canva’s growth has been largely driven by word-of-mouth, fueled by a passionate user base and dedicated community advocates known as Canvassadors.
    • The company focuses on creating a product that is so useful and easy to use that users naturally want to share it with others.
  7. Embracing AI and Technology:
    • Canva leverages AI to streamline creative processes, reduce administrative tasks, and enhance the user experience.
    • AI is used to make the design process more efficient, allowing users to focus on creativity and strategic decision-making.
  8. Commitment to Philanthropy:
    • Canva encourages employees to engage in philanthropic activities, such as volunteering with local charities during work hours.
    • This commitment to doing good is a core part of Canva’s identity and helps build a strong, positive internal culture.

Practical Tips:

  • Empathy and Communication: Understand and connect with your audience on a genuine level. Foster open communication and listen to customer feedback.
  • Innovation: Continuously innovate and improve your product based on user needs and technological advancements.
  • Community Engagement: Invest in building and nurturing a community around your brand. Regular interactions with users can provide valuable insights and foster loyalty.
  • Culture: Cultivate a positive and inclusive company culture that supports employee well-being and creativity.

Final Thoughts:

  • Simplicity and Accessibility: Focus on making your product easy to use and accessible to a wide audience.
  • Human Touch: Maintain a human touch in all interactions, from customer service to internal communications, to build trust and rapport.


Speaker 1: There was so much noise all over social media after the fact and I think the message clearly landed because people were talking so much about the wrap and yes I think even at founder level we spoke about this in our all company meeting yesterday. There was just a lot of pride around that moment and the fact that we did something that felt real and authentic even if that meant taking a chance and maybe showing up in a way that felt silly to some people. Music

Speaker 2: Hi we’re back. This time we’re at Canva. Canva’s new head office in London to speak with their head of marketing about growth

Speaker 3: stuff, which is great. I’ve characterized this as a wide-ranging interview. We’ve just come out, and we had a chat about building teams. We had a chat about AI. We had a chat about Canva’s growth. Culture. Culture. Yes. It was mad, and they’re just lovely. It was one of those things where we were like, where are the skeletons in this closet? Because everyone seems really nice, and they feel like they’ve got a nice product where they listen to their customers. It was fab.

Speaker 2: Yes. Let us know if there’s anything wrong with Canva, because they appear to be the perfect company. No, it was really brilliant and very relaxed. You can tell by the energy of the people when you walk in from the personal reception to the brilliant Melissa who set this up. They look like they’re having fun. Everybody’s having fun. They’re in there eating good food, which you’ll hear about. The environment’s relaxed, and they’re trying to change the world in a really positive way. We’re all for that. I think you’re going to really enjoy this interview. Enjoy. Enjoy it.

Speaker 1: My plan was to be a child psychotherapist, but then I started it, and it was just really heavy content. I was in my early 20s. Basically, everybody else on the course had started and finished a career, and this was their pre-retirement last hurrah plan.

Speaker 3: How did you end up in marketing?

Speaker 1: Good question. There is actually a great segue here. I studied psychoanalysis and Freud’s teachings. He had a nephew called … You might know this, actually. He had a nephew called Edward Bernays, who basically took all of his theory around the unconscious and applied it to PR, but it was marketing more broadly. He’s known as the father of spin. His whole thing was he drove this shift away from very functional messaging and advertising, like you need this product to solve XYZ challenge, to really emotional messaging appealing to the unconscious. This whole thing around sex sales was basically driven by him. Men being sold red Ferraris to compensate for other insecurities. The Marlboro Man, that character was tapping into this innate need for every man to be really rugged and alpha. I did my thesis on that, and then I started to learn through that process a bit about the advertising industry. Around that time, I was questioning whether or not I wanted to pursue the degree anyway. Then, yes, found advertising, went into the agency world, and then was there for 10 or so years. Did the whole thing, like every market, every vertical, felt like I’d come to the end of my learning curve, and wanted to get into tech, and then found my way into e-work.

Speaker 2: We speak to lots of CMOs and industry leaders, and this is arguably one of the most enviable jobs in the industry. You’re in one of the coolest companies, super exciting. How many months in? Two months. Two months in. Two months down. Really intrigued to know how you got the role, what the first couple of months has been like, and what you feel like the future looks like to start with.

Speaker 1: Yes. It’s definitely a very cool job, probably a bit too cool for me. I don’t feel like I match up to Canva’s cool expectations. I feel really privileged to be here. It’s a really awesome company, very inclusive, the philosophy is very pro-philanthropy and just doing the right thing. I think even at the founder level, that commitment is really clear. The product is obviously awesome and super easy to use. This is actually my third time almost joining Canva. I had, two years ago, almost relocated to California to join them for a role there and then there were just a number of relocation issues. We couldn’t make it work. Then about a year after that, they opened up this role and I started interviewing for it and then found out I was pregnant with my son and withdrew from the process because I just thought it would be too much change to manage. Then this role opened up again. Yes, it’s basically a third time lucky situation. I was in another role that I was quite happy in, but it was just a case of Canva knocking at the door and I couldn’t say no. I’d been talking with the team for two years. I felt like I really knew the business already. It’s been two months, but it feels like it’s been much longer because I already had a relationship with a few members of the team. I’d say it’s probably the best time to be in this role as well because the main focus across the whole business now is global expansion and Europe, just given the size of the region, is playing a really critical role in that journey. Global expansion, localization, we talk a lot about delivering a truly local product and experience. That obviously extends to what we do in marketing. For that reason, we’re now growing the team across Europe. It’s just such an exciting place to be in and an exciting time to be in this role in particular.

Speaker 3: That’s wicked. That’s so cool. When you say about the localization across Europe, there’s so many cultures and stuff like that even sits within that. How do you even begin to think about localization on such a massive scale when it’s a huge diverse continent?

Speaker 1: It is. Probably the most diverse. I’ve always said in my career previously, if you can get it right in Europe, you can probably get it right anywhere. It actually just doesn’t make sense to be grouped as a region because, like you say, the markets are so different. We have local marketers for each of our disciplines within the regional team on the ground. They do an amazing job of just keeping us abreast of whatever insight or cultural trends we need to factor into our marketing plans. There’s also a massive emphasis from the business across all areas of the business, not just within marketing but on user research. We really keep a close link to our customers and understand what they need. That feedback looks very different in every different part of the world. The other big investment that we make as a business is in our community. We have community managers in each local market. Some of them are focused on education. Some of them are focused on just more generalist creators. They have a really regular touchpoint with their whole community, be it virtually in social community groups. Often, they’ll do in real-life events. We have a really close connection with the people that are using our products most frequently. A lot of insights will get surfaced through that channel as well.

Speaker 3: That’s wicked. It’s such a passionate part of the community. We speak to marketers everywhere. I know that one of the lines that Canva speak about a lot is the accessibility of design. Actually, designers, in general, is a very passionate user base. I imagine you do get that two-way dialogue quite willingly versus a more quiet audience who may not want to hold on to that information or not give that information quite as gladly. I want to go back a step because you mentioned about the founder. We’ve been listening back to podcasts left, right, and center just to hear about the story. One of the things that comes across is founder, CEO. It just comes across so nice. I know. In your first couple of months, how has that come into existence in your experience of the culture of Canva? I think people would be so interested to know what it’s like to work here because they see the logo, but they don’t see this beautiful space and the people in it. How’s that?

Speaker 1: It’s very genuine. It’s what and what you’ve heard from Melanie. That whole ethos definitely permeates throughout the whole business. This office space, as we’ve said when you guys arrived, it’s designed to be very homely in its feel. There’s a wellness room downstairs. They encourage you to take breaks if you just want to be away from the noise or just take a minute for yourself. There’s also a tradition which was started when Canva was in its early infancy, which is Cliff, the co-founder, really loved the idea of getting all the employees together to eat lunch. That was a fixed slot and it was a non-negotiable. He would cook for every member of the team. I think this was when it was probably less than 20 people. He would cook and he had all these specialties. This get-together was fixed. There was no way of getting out of it. He just loved the idea of having the whole group around the table and just sharing stories about their lives outside of work. We now do that in every campus around the world. Amazing. It’s 12.30 to 1.30 here. We’ve got our amazing chefs downstairs. They prepare food. Every day is designated to honouring a different part of the world. Today we had lunch from Zimbabwe. Everyone gets together at 12.30. You’ll see everyone marching down the stairs. People will sit with different groups. It’s just a nice way for people to meet their colleagues. It’s not like people bringing down their laptops and using the opportunity to talk shop. It’s genuinely taking time to get to know one another.

Speaker 2: Breaking bread and talking. We get so… I was saying to Jo, the first day back off holiday yesterday, apart from London, I just spent all day looking at a screen.

Speaker 3: Yes, we have a horrible culture.

Speaker 2: To be fair, I was working at home. To be able to sit with people on a regular basis and build relationships.

Speaker 1: Yes, it makes such a difference.

Speaker 2: It’s an easy thing to do through that mechanism, but also so important for building culture as well. That’s living and breathing this, isn’t it?

Speaker 1: Exactly. Yes, it’s definitely not all talk. There are so many examples of things like that. We have a lady called Maddy here who leads what we call our Force for Good efforts. She’s got partnerships with all different charities across the region. We’re encouraged to take time out of our working week to go and contribute. There are so many different ways. A couple of weeks ago, the whole marketing team here did gardening for this local trust. We just went and spent the day there and helped the community out a little bit, got our hands dirty. There’s a really meaningful commitment from the founder’s side to make sure that people have a healthy work-life balance, enjoy being here, and are getting opportunities

Speaker 3: to grow within the company as well. Yes, it’s really unique. I guess to be the counterbalance to that, because at the moment, we’re in the middle of 2024. We’re seeing back-to-the-office orders. There seems to be a bit of a hardening again of some business cultures. This feels just like such an interesting case study of the opposite. Is there just a list of benefits that come to your mind? What do in the rest of the team when you get all these amazing things and stuff like that? Do the team feel more motivated? Are they showing up in different ways than what you’d expect in perhaps some of your more corporate roles that you’ve seen in the past? Not naming any specific companies, but I’d just be interested to see how folks actually show up for each

Speaker 1: other here. Yes, I think there’s a higher degree of excitement around the work. From what I’ve noticed of this team is that I just feel like more creativity comes through in their ideas, because I think it’s also quite a flat structure. I don’t know if you’ve come across this in your research, but we don’t have managers per se. There’s a coaching structure. The person that guides your development is your coach. The idea is that they are there to do just that, rather than you’re answering to them. In a lot of organizations, success looks like making your boss happy or your CEO happy. They might have a very narrow view of what your output should be. Of course, you’re brought in as a subject matter expert, so in theory, you should be able to come in and do the work in the way that you feel it needs to be delivered. I feel like that culture exists here. You’re encouraged to bring ideas to the table. You’re encouraged to think creatively. It doesn’t feel like a box ticking exercise where you just know that this stakeholder needs to hear this message. This stakeholder needs it to look like X. It feels like everybody is trying to genuinely do the right thing.

Speaker 2: I think you can feel it as well. Obviously, our experience is with Melissa. It might just be her personality, but it’s probably partly like she’s just having fun. Yes, I’ve noticed it. I’ve noticed what we’re doing. Yes, but the way she came down to reception and greeted us wasn’t that formal, oh, welcome, gentlemen. It was like, how are you two doing, thing.

Speaker 4: Then she said, look what the cat dragged in. She did say that. Which, I think is fair as well.

Speaker 2: We do look betrayed. That’s somebody that you can instinctively feel is relaxed at work and enjoying their role. That’s lovely to see.

Speaker 3: It’s important as well, because you use the word creativity and that creativity has to come through because it’s a creative product, right? You’re speaking to those folks.

Speaker 1: Also, obviously, all of the communications that are shared internally are so inherently creative because we’re all using the Canva product. That’s another shift as well. It’s very different to the kinds of communications that are shared in a more corporate world where it’s all just facts and figures and quite intense. It’s just like every meeting is actually quite a lot of fun. You just see all these amazing visuals and videos being brought to life.

Speaker 3: It’s actually no mean feat in a company of this size. I think it’s easy to add in bureaucracy and hierarchy and structure and process. We’ve even had to do this when we’re interacting with 65 organizers or whatever. There’s a need for that. To have that give and take, it’s really interesting.

Speaker 1: Yes, definitely.

Speaker 3: Into the marketing space, when you took on the role, you’re two months in. We feel like we can’t be too unkind. What have you done so far? What results have you got? At this conversation? What are the big challenges that you’re facing at the moment? You’ve spoken about the internationalization, a lot of growth there. Is that the sole remit? Are you looking at a number of different things as big challenges at the moment for you to lean into?

Speaker 1: Really, it’s growth is number one and just establishing the infrastructure needed to get us there. We’ve got a really solid team, but there are some areas that we haven’t tapped into, like events and partnerships that we want to start to explore. I think just laying the foundations on those channels, exploring new routes to market. I think more broadly for the business, and I don’t know if you caught any of the Create content from last week. Yes, you saw the wrap. The best bit. I’m sure you picked up from that. The main message from that event was that Canva, in its first 10 years, was designed to service the individual and deliver a really great product experience for individuals. Now the shift is really towards how we can support organizations. A, be more creative, like tell more compelling visual stories internally, support communication efforts in big companies that are really hard to cut through the noise and get your message across. Also how we can support different stages of the workflow for different departments. It’s quite a different marketing message and obviously marketing play in terms of who we’re talking to and the kinds of channels that we’ll look to deliver that message through. Yes, again, really interesting time because it’s quite a big strategic shift. Not necessarily a shift because the individual consumer is still really critical, but just the expansion of the offering makes for quite an interesting marketing opportunity.

Speaker 2: Important though as well. A friend of mine is a CFO in a company. He’s always talking about, he’s a very visual character despite being an accountant. That might be why. He gets really excited about visually representing numbers. He’s trying to encourage his team to be more visual. I’m like, the amount of times I’ve said to him, are you using Canva? I’m saying this is the thing that’s so simple to use. Once you’ve got your data, you can make it look beautiful. Exactly. How important do you, does that feel like a mission for you in terms of not just helping marketers or designers to help visual communications? Do you think there’s a world where everyone can be better at it?

Speaker 1: Yes, absolutely. That was another big feature of the Create Talk track was that, well, so A, we’ve now designed products and templates for different parts of the organisation. For sales and HR was a big focus of the rollout from Create. For sales, there’s everything from, there are now integrations with platforms like Salesforce. You can basically take your target list, customise your materials that you’re building for each of those target prospects, have reporting on the back end to see to what extent they’re using those materials or reviewing your pitch decks or whatever. That’s one area that we’re starting to explore. Then for HR, there are now learning courses that can be developed in Canva. Yes, there are all these different ways that we can support organisations. I think just generally, the fact that you can use whiteboards, docs, presentations, and it’s so seamless to make those products beautiful, that’s a benefit for every member of any organisation. The features, the way the features interact with each other are so intuitive. You can have a whiteboard session. you might want to do a virtual workshop with your team, have a whiteboard session. They can all contribute virtually to the whiteboard. Then you can click a button, have all of those responses organised into a neat framework, click another button, turn that into a document, get that document signed off, click another button, turn it into a presentation, present that to a wider audience, to socialise the ideas. Just, A, the time saving opportunity in that process is immense. Think about, like in my old agency days, I remember how much time we would spend doing the workshop. Then you’d need to dedicate a day or two to developing all of the content around the outputs of the workshop. Yes, it’s quite smart in terms of just the way we’ve thought about helping businesses to operate more efficiently. I do think, to your example, the CFO, even the way that we think about presenting numbers. In this day and age, when you’re exposed to so many different pieces of digital communication day to day, so many adverts, so many pieces of content, then you go to work. There’s so many messages across like Slack, WhatsApp, text, email. You’ve got to keep up to date with hundreds of different lines of communication all day. If you’re then exposed to messages that you have to take a decision on throughout your day, there’s an obvious benefit to making sure that those messages are delivered in a way that’s compelling and exciting. The likelihood of you remembering the information that you’re taking in versus when you look at it on a spreadsheet by yourself, it’s just so much higher. I think there’s so much opportunity for us to help businesses just improve all of their workflows, improve the way that things get done, and also just help people have a bit more fun doing it, like your CFO friend.

Speaker 2: We have a thing when we go to our accountants. They’ll do sheets and sheets of numbers, and then I get to the graphs, and I’m like, oh, I understand now. You don’t miss the graphs, do you? Yes, I’m very much a visual character. It just makes more sense when I see a line with a nice pink underneath.

Speaker 1: If you think about, as an executive, you’re in and out of, what, 10 meetings a day where you’re presented with different sets of data. If that’s not organized in a way that is easy to digest and, immediately actionable, it’s just so exhausting. Then on top of that, you’ve got to keep on top of all of your messages on the five different platforms that your business is subscribed to.

Speaker 3: I’m interested because, we speak about, this accessibility to the tool and, how it can be available to everyone in so many different ways. I think I’ve observed a shift in the brand perception of Canva over the past few years, where before, a creative person with a graphic design background, most specifically would be, sort of saying, oh, they just did it in Canva. they quote, unquote, just did it in Canva. Versus now, it doesn’t feel like that perception exists in the same way. Is that something that has been a challenge? granted, two months into the role, so, it’s hard to speak to all of that. Is that something that feels important to Canva? Are you just plowing your own furrow and sort of, saying, we show up in this way and it doesn’t matter if people almost have that snobbery around the product and stuff like that?

Speaker 1: It’s not something that’s really been discussed as far as I’m aware. Yes, the central plan or ethos of the company is accessibility. That’s, if that’s designed to be a criticism, we would probably interpret it positively.

Speaker 3: Yes. I’m well for it. It’s that devil’s advocate sort of argument, but,

Speaker 1: Definitely. Yes, you want it to feel like it’s so easy to use. You want it to feel like a product that, your kid could pick up and figure out or your grandma can pick up and figure out who doesn’t have much tech experience. The other thing that the other big commitment is that the products are generally designed or developed with the 99 percent in mind. Yes, thinking about the majority, thinking about your teachers, your students, your everyday person who doesn’t use much software. I think that’s why it’s the product has been quite easy to integrate into lots of different situations, because you do have people who are able to access it without training. That’s like a big departure from the way that the industry has been operating historically.

Speaker 3: It’s wicked in that way. it’s the one tool. I swear it’s the one tool. I’m not just saying it. I’ve said it to you in the past. You walk people will pass people on the front of desk, a big morning national court. It’s consistently the only thing that you will pass people’s desktops. It’s the thing that they have on open up, almost regardless of role, which is just it’s just fascinating.

Speaker 2: We’ve seen it more and more with our online webinars. When people they’re like, Okay, I’m going to share my screen now. That desktop for a second before the presentation comes up. It used to be like PDF and still is sometimes or it might be less and less is it, PowerPoint. More and more, it’s a camera and we have it at our events as well. I’m like, oh, what format are you on? Because it’s going to be on my laptop. They’re like, oh, it’s cool. It’s a camera. I’ll just send you a link. You’re like, bang. The amount of times I’ve had was in PowerPoint. I’m like, I’m on a Mac. Is it going to have different fonts? I might do. I’m like, guests are arriving in an hour. This is why I said that yesterday. More and more people are now like, oh, it’s on camera. I’m like, brilliant. It works seamlessly. Yes. I also find so from somebody that’s without naming other design tools, I have sort of been self-taught on other platforms which are hard to use, video editing and photo editing and, designing and that sort of thing. I’m not I’m none of those things, but I taught myself to use them. If I was like removing the background on a photo, for instance, I would always go to another platform and then would drop it into a template on Canva. It’s so much easier in Canva to do that now that those other tools are becoming redundant. Are you finding any resistance with like traditional designers and that sort of thing to their other tools? Are they or do they still use both? Is it is it a gradual move over or is that not the not the plan?

Speaker 1: No, I think like you said that, the whole centralisation that the solution that Canva offers is designed to address that issue, which is that you have to jump through jumped between multiple platforms. I think that need is has been born out of the fact that we’ve heard from a lot of companies that it’s really complicated to navigate your tech stack when you’re thinking about the software you might need to get designs out of the door. Also the fact that you then have to invest in training on each of those platforms. You then have to invest in resource to operate those platforms. It suddenly becomes this really expensive equation. Yes, it was designed to meet that exact need to make sure that everything that is integrated, accessible to anyone doesn’t require that degree of training that you probably have painfully put yourself through.

Speaker 2: The cost of having like God knows how many different platforms as well. Because the price point of Canva is pretty good as well. Some of the others aren’t quite as good, and it’s like, oh, well, if we’re not using it, then, Also for somebody like Joe, who has wonderful taste, has wonderful taste, but sometimes like you’ll do the odd design thing. Always excels at graphic design. That makes me go. 100% of the time I’m great at it. You are. Actually, since using this just sounds like a Canva advert, but since using Canva, we have we worked with a designer who was like, right, here’s all your templates for things that you can use on social media or, event banners and that thing. I don’t know whether Joe’s done it or not anymore because the guardrails are put in place. The brand’s colours are there. The fonts are there. It’s like drag, drop, drag, drop, drag, drop. I’m like, well, yes, I wouldn’t know who’s done that now.

Speaker 3: Mate, I’m sorry to tell you, we never got the designer in. It was you all along. I know that’s not true. It was Thomas. He’s lovely.

Speaker 1: There you go. That’s the goal. I think that in particular for functions outside of marketing is so critical. Sales is such an obvious use case. At previous companies, it’s always been the biggest challenge to support sales and developing sales collateral. Because A, they don’t have really the capacity or interest to do it. They want to be out signing deals. B, that, they’re not trained creatives. You just have this weird mishmash of branding and value prop messaging and like different formats used for communication that are coming out of the sales department, which is typically a lot bigger than a marketing department in most organizations. Marketing can’t, support a custom proposal for every deal. Canvas solves that exact problem. Because if you have templates, if you have branding that can just be seamlessly applied through AI to whatever they develop, it’s foolproof. You’re guaranteed to show up in a consistent way to whoever you’re exposed to, which is so important for the brand. I think it’s something that so many companies get really wrong. Yes, big solving that. Are you laughing because you’re inconsistent in your own proposal? Yes, you’ve solved my problems.

Speaker 3: I love that, You’ve spoken about exploring some other channels for growth to hit your goals. Looking a little bit at the past, though, as we understand it, at the very least, a lot of the growth has been through word of mouth to date. Could you speak a little bit to that? Then also how that journey of how word of mouth has advanced as the company’s grown? Again, with the caveat that you’ve been here for two months, so it’s hard for you to. We’re speaking about both the past and the future, really, in terms of how you sort of see that channel sort of still being important for the growth of Canva. How are you sort of looking for that big acceleration? Because that feels quite challenging, to sort of do from a marketing perspective.

Speaker 1: Yes, I think, the pace has been kept organically, I have to say. That word of mouth sort of trend really just drove itself because I think people are so passionate about the product and also just love to talk about it in the same way that you guys do. It’s the best feeling, actually, when I tell people outside of work that I’ve joined Canva because most people I know have a story of having used Canva. They’re like, oh, my God, it’s so cool. I used it for this. I used it to design my invoice the other day. Somebody in my company was showing me how to use it so that we can, have more exciting creative presentation meetings. Yes, I think the fact that it’s like it’s an exciting area to tap into, it’s something that people want to talk about. Also our community managers, as I said earlier, are really dedicated to nurturing the existing community and also growing it. We have a community of Canvassadors who are basically advocates. Nice. God’s sake. Yes, Canvassadors and Canvanots, those are the two buzzwords you need to take away from this conversation. Yes, the Canvassadors are so invested in the product that they’ll often, they’ll appear at our community events and talk about the product, like help train the audience on different features of the product. Then we have Canva experts. They’re people who have basically been accredited in understanding the product inside out. They’re equally interested in talking to our broader community audiences and sort of advocating on our behalf. There are referrals happening through that channel organically. The fact that they have a touchpoint to our community managers who also just love the product and love the community and love spending time with people talking about how we can make it better and how the features have evolved. I think that trend, well, I’m hopeful that trend will continue. I think it’s an engine that’s running really well. Obviously, as I said, now the big shift is thinking about how we communicate that message to larger organizations, which is a slightly different play. We need to think about, partnering with the right brands to get that word out. Also, just making sure that we’re building relationships with decision makers in those organizations who might not be involved in the day to day problems that Canva solves. I think that’s the next opportunity for marketing.

Speaker 3: Speaking of the word of mouth, then, of course, at Canva Create, there was the big moment which went viral afterwards.

Speaker 2: Should I insert that into the video now? Just a couple of seconds of the rap.

Speaker 5: To recap, let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it. You can redesign your work, Canva got that glow up. We redesign everything from the float up. Customize your workspace and make it your own. Now you’re making magic when you’re up in the zone.

Speaker 6: What’s up, sir? Yes, I’m talking to all of you up there. You guys know what’s happening? What about me? Who is you? A CIO from an enterprise C, and I have some doubts. Security. That’s right, and I’d like to have some certainty. Nice that you got some pretty shiny things, but can you meet the demands of a global machine? We got pretty high stakes, no room to err. We need more than a cute little post to share.

Speaker 5: You think Canva can’t go deep, but we can see that your teams actually disagree. Design to departments really are a dream. More than on the surface, our service is serving teams.

Speaker 6: Color me intrigued, but I’m not yet sold. Security. Said that already, it’s getting old.

Speaker 5: Logs, SIEM, SSO, can you really tell me that there’s very much control? You can even manage automated licensing. Compliancy, there’s privacy.

Speaker 6: Okay, I can see. Is it likely for you to integrate all of our systems easily? Can you?

Speaker 3: No. Did you sign that off? Yes. I’d love to hear the experience internally to that. As much as the story, as before, appreciates a large organization, but then also afterwards, because there was so much chatter about the wrap. I loved the response from one of the Canva employees. I’m afraid I can’t remember who sort of said, we love the reaction to this. what was the behind the scenes like as much as you’re aware of the story that went on with that?

Speaker 1: It was exactly that. I think it’s like it was done because it feels very true to the brand and true to the founders. It’s fun. It’s fresh. It’s different. It’s like, it’s old. There was a lot of criticism, but there was also a lot of chatter, as you said. It did what it set out to achieve. Exactly. There was so much noise all over social media after the fact. I think the message clearly landed because people were talking so much about the wrap. Yes, I think even at founder level, we spoke about this in our company meeting yesterday. There was just a lot of pride around that moment. The fact that, we did something that felt real and authentic, even if that meant taking a chance and maybe showing up in a way that felt silly to some people. Yes.

Speaker 3: Where does that comfort come from, though? Because, you sort of sit there and I love there was almost like a physical shrug on your shoulders. you mentioned the criticism, but you spend far more time speaking about the positive side of it. How do you find that comfort in sort of not worrying about the criticism very much?

Speaker 1: Yes, I think it I think it probably comes that feeling is cascaded through the founders because they are just so committed to showing up in an authentic way and being themselves. They just want to get the best product to market. There’s no there’s such I feel like there’s much less of a focus on optics and, presenting ourselves to the world in a certain way. It’s just we’re here to get this job done. We’re going to have fun doing it. That’s it. it doesn’t feel like this rat race or desperate corporate game that everybody’s playing. Yes, I think everyone’s just mirroring their reaction, really.

Speaker 2: Do you think that’s partly why the word of mouth thing has been your strongest growth channel? Because you don’t see traditionally you haven’t seen a lot of like, social ads for Canva or billboards or TV. There’s not that traditional route that seems to be quite as visible. Most of that growth seems to have come from word of mouth. I feel like that’s maybe the comes from that inner confidence as well. It’s like, no, we just make a really great products and everybody talks about it.

Speaker 1: That’s exactly. I think that’s what happens when you have a founder that sets out to address a genuine need. It was a need that, she faced in her own job. Her family members faced and, creating yearbooks. I’m sure you’re familiar with that story. I think when you when you find a problem, when you find a gap in the market and you set out to solve it and you do that and you deliver, then that’s the output. You don’t have to work too hard to get it in front of people. We do run advertising as well, obviously. We run paid social ads mainly just to showcase the suite of features and solutions that are in the platform. Because I think, some people will access it to address one need and then might ignore the other options that exist in the platform. We want to make sure that all of the different dock types are surfaced in the right way and everybody knows how to access them. That’s the main function of our paid social channel. Yes, the word of mouth pieces is really impressive.

Speaker 3: It’s one of the interviews I listened to was how I built this with Guy Raz. It was from 2019, so five years ago. it’s a lovely thing. At the end, he sort of goes, I’m waiting for the bump in this story. I’m waiting for something to, for something to have gone wrong, some sort of tension. It’s just interesting being here, seeing the journey from the outside, meeting yourself. that there’s, I don’t know, we sort of speak about relaxing our shoulders, and just sort of being in a space and doing it with a smile on our face. We genuinely try to have fun. I think that’s probably been part of the joy of TMM over the years is because we’ve shown up and done silly things. Not because they’re silly, but, just because it’s nice to be joyful. It’s nice to see people having fun. People buy into that. It’s something you say a lot, which is if people see you smiling, they can’t help but want to be part of it. There’s something…

Speaker 2: You look like you’re having fun. You’re like, oh, well, how do I become part of this thing?

Speaker 1: Yes, so true. Especially over the last, five or so years. There’s so many things to stress about. You want to really enjoy what you’re doing at work.

Speaker 3: it’s funny because, I don’t know, having that context of the culture and everything else, then the rap as an example of that. it feels like a whimsical, fun thing, that, I spend enough… I’m too deep in the marketing industry, so I’m a distinctiveness and differentiation, like long and short of it. Just doing something because it feels fun and, true to yourself and people react to it is really fabulous. We’re just entering such an interesting time with the AI stuff. It feels like such an evolution in terms of how we work, and Canva seemed to have really embraced that. when you were speaking about the different workflows, sort of clicking a button and something goes from a whiteboard to, … All that’s powered by the tech and stuff like that. It’s a pretty rubbish question because I’m going to ask it in a really broad way. How is the company sort of speaking about AI at the moment? Because it feels like it’s a really important part of your growth and how the company is going to sort of go into this next generation of design, whatever that looks like. That future is also really hard to predict and stuff like that. I don’t want to say what’s Canva’s opinion on AI, that’s not fair, Behind the scenes, how are you starting to think about all of this?

Speaker 1: I think the emphasis is really just making the product experience really seamless and really efficient. I’ve said before, there was, a recognition of the fact that if you want to invest in design, there’s like so many expensive tools that you would have to do. There’s whole proliferation of platforms that you have to choose from. You have to invest in training, you have to invest in the operator, the resource. Such a complicated journey. Then just communicating those ideas in different formats across your organisation then becomes another thought process that you have to invest in. I think at its core, Canva is really, as a business, we’re just trying to make communicating effectively really easy and really efficient. AI plays a huge role in that. When we think about it in the context of creativity, obviously this company’s mission is to enable people to be creative. We think about AI being a means to enhance that creativity and also just, helping remove a lot of the administrative work around creativity. That everybody has time and capacity to do their best work and really bring their ideas to life. That’s really at its core, which what all of these features are designed to do. It’s just, like I said, that migration from a whiteboard to a document could take you a day if you’re taking it from a piece of paper and translating that onto a presentation in any other software. The fact that you can seamlessly do that through pressing a button and then invite other people to participate and join the conversation. It’s just a huge time saver. You think about, A, the time saved and B, just how demotivating it is to be bogged down with all of that admin that does have an impact on your final product. Yes, that’s the goal is just to use all of these little hacks along the different stages of the journey and producing a creative product, whatever it might be, to make that process more seamless and run much faster.

Speaker 3: I love that answer for what you said, but also how you said it and the focus. It strikes me, so a couple of months ago we went to go and visit the head of the MD for HubSpot Europe. The thing that was striking about his answer, because we asked a similar question about the AI sort of thing. You did it in a similar way as far as what I could observe is that there wasn’t a panic, a blind panic around the tech. I think Canvas culture is a slightly more relaxed culture in general, but you focused on the problem and the problem that it solves for people. Mark did a very similar answer in the sense that he spoke about the customer and that. I think there is so much that folks can take in the community listening today about so many challenges. You’ve referred back to the founder several times, the principles of the company, but now speaking about the customer as well in the context of this amazing technology. It’s not like we need to put it wherever we can and find a problem for the solution. You’re solving the problem with a solution, which is what I observe in the best marketing leaders that I see is that sort of nailed in importance on the customer, the problem, stuff like that. I just find that answer really inspiring. Thank you.

Speaker 2: I also find it really interesting that the AI is being brought in to remove, and I think you used the word like administrative tasks, like nobody wants to do the boring stuff. Even designers who are very good at designing don’t want to manually click around and do things that can be done with one click. They just want it done. I don’t think that replaces creative people because you still have to have a vision and an eye for things. What it does is it makes their job quicker and actually they can go, well, hey, I’ve got four ideas that I can show you in the time that I could have shown you one.

Speaker 1: Totally. I think I always think about this because I remember about five or six years ago, or at least that’s when the news got to me, there was so much hype around the fact that basically every creative role had, essentially was facing a limit because of AI. I remember there was always all of this talk about how the marketing industry would shift because you could essentially develop creative by numbers if you could have tools that would aggregate the data around what your user wanted, and the output would be lots of cat videos or whatever was popular and trending at the time. Everybody spoke about it as this massive existential threat to the industry. I don’t know if you ever saw some of the content that was developed with that logic in mind. It was terrible. It just proved that you do human instinct count for something. Yes, AI can enhance your workflows in so many ways. That’s exactly how it’s been put to work within Canva. That’s exactly the intention. I just don’t see a world where it entirely replaces creativity because there is something within us that is just based on instinct, not data, not purely down to data collection, which is what AI is designed to deliver.

Speaker 2: There was a filmmaker I saw being interviewed a couple of months ago. He was talking about like, maybe in the future, AI could replace 90% of the filmmaking process. It’ll never get that final, 5 to 10% because it needs that vision, that feeling that, when you look at a document or you look at a video or you look at a photograph and you go, oh, that evoked an emotion in me or a feeling. It takes the designer to know how to use the AI tool to get that feeling in the end.

Speaker 1: Yes. The vision, as you said, I am. My husband’s really passionate about this topic. We actually were having this debate the other night over dinner because I was saying, I don’t know if either of you have seen the film about BlackBerry. It was recently, I think it was on Prime. It was the whole journey of the BlackBerry founders and how the company came into existence and then how they came to going head to head with Steve Jobs. There was this pivotal moment where the BlackBerry had released their smartphone. It had a keyboard. Did the iPhone. Steve Jobs set out to do away with the keyboard purely based on his very strong instinct that a touchscreen would resonate better. All of the data suggested otherwise. He had reams and reams of customer research. Everybody said they were really attached to the keyboard. It’s a really important feature of the smartphone. He just went, he just completely ignored all of that information because his gut feel was so strong. He proved us right. I just think that’s such a good example of like where a human needs to intervene in decision making sometimes because gut feel counts for something. It’s I just, a machine is never going to be able to deliver that like that level of instinct and emotion.

Speaker 2: Do any pitfalls to having AI built into workflows? The answer might just be like, well, no, it’s great. are there are there things that we become too complacent about certain things and things get, I don’t know. Do you do you do you feel like there are things that people won’t benefit from or will we lose skills as a result?

Speaker 1: I haven’t experienced it yet. I’d say you could probably argue the same thing about just technology in general and software, which I don’t feel has happened. Maybe it’s happening at a subconscious level.

Speaker 3: I got an agency friend who the other day gave a brief to their team to do a task. They specifically had to say, and don’t use chat GPT. There’s bits of it coming in. Is everything you’ve spoken about, which is that need for the human touch to make it. The reason why the request was don’t use chat GPT is that while they were good answers, they weren’t the best answer for context and situation.

Speaker 2: I suppose it comes down to whether it’s a prompt on chat GPT or whether it’s a piece of design. It comes down to how that human can, I don’t want to say manipulate the AI, but effectively guide it. Yes. Maybe that’s the skill that the muscle that hasn’t been built very well yet. We’re all we’re all on a journey of building.

Speaker 1: Yes. Each of these AI tools are learning what we’re looking for. Eventually, I guess the need for that skill will be lessened. Then you can be even more efficient. Yes, I think in terms of accessing data and as we’ve said, removing the need for administrative work, it’s just a game changer and just can help you unlock, so many other different skill sets that you might not even know that you have.

Speaker 3: I’m conscious we’ll be drawing to a close, but I just wanted to ask a couple of questions about you and what you’re looking forward to, really. you’re two months into this amazing role and you got so much in front of you in terms of everything to come. What are you personally most excited about at the moment when it comes to your role, in any capacity, whether it’s being part of the culture or, something that’s happening and stuff like that? Yes. What’s firing you up at the moment?

Speaker 1: I think it’s having the opportunity to build a team because we’ve got some really talented individuals in the group at the moment. There are some resource gaps in terms of specialist skill set. I think just plugging those gaps, bringing everybody together, giving everyone the chance to collaborate, cross channel, learn from one another, because also the team in Europe is relatively new as well. We’re all on this journey together of, figuring out the strategy, figuring out our north star. We actually have an off site coming up next week. It’s the first time everybody will get together in person. That’s definitely a moment that I’m really excited about. Then also I’ll be joining. I’ll be visiting our Sydney HQ at the end of July, which I’m really excited about. Just seeing, the true home of Canva and where it all started, I think will be such an amazing experience. much to look forward to. Also, obviously you had so many of the features being rolled out at Create. There is so much user research and product development going on in the background that there is so much more to come. Many exciting features that are, again, addressing real needs that I could quite easily articulate if I was able to talk about them at this stage. Yes. It’s just that it’s a constant evolution. I don’t think there’s like not even a slight hint of complacency in this organisation. The founders, everybody in executive level is really striving to make this product the best it can be. I just I feel like, as a marketer, we’re in a position where we have so much to shout about and we will continue to have so much to shout about.

Speaker 2: You picked a good horse to back.

Speaker 1: Exactly. Yes. It’s hard when you have, a product that’s either, a one trick pony or just has reached its limit in terms of opportunities to grow. It just doesn’t feel like that. I think as a marketer, that’s a really challenging place to be.

Speaker 2: Hardest job in the world to be either in sales or marketing for a product you don’t actually believe in. Yes. Because you’re like, oh no, it’s great.

Speaker 3: It’s so exciting. just to pick up on some of the themes you’ve spoken about. The fact that you’re speaking about research so much, that feedback from the community, that solving of the problem, having a great product. It’s just like, it’s marketing 101 to a certain extent, but so bloody well should be. it’s not rocket science, but when you execute these things well, this is what you get. You get a beautiful space with really nice people, Exactly.

Speaker 1: It’s a real thrill. Yes. It’s also, I think the other nice thing is that the company, again, from founder level, really do commit to listening to our customers and implementing off the back of their feedback. The suggested as its feature, which you might have seen being spoken about at Create last week, that was something that directly came from our user base. There are so many other examples like that. it’s not just this we’re not paying lip service to the idea of customer feedback. It’s genuine. The tool is genuinely built off of what we hear people are looking for. Yes, it’s a really great commitment from the team, from the executive team.