Five design tools for marketing on a budget

A selection of five design tools for marketers working to a low budget. The tools mentioned here are also suited to startups looking for maximum visibility with limited time for training.


Canva is a design tool of simplicity. The tool offers fully collaborative design of flyers, presentations, social media images, blog graphics and presentations. Canva’s user base has experienced a surge over the past 20 months and currently stands at 2.3 million users. Available online, Canva operates a ‘drag and drop’ model and is accessible to non-designers.

Canva for work is due to launch in 2015, increasing the offering of simplistic design to businesses.

Pablo (by Buffer)

Pablo operates on a similar premise to Canva but is still in it’s infancy. The app, created by social media scheduling gurus Buffer, offers a platform on which to design social media graphics in 30 seconds.

Pablo has greater limitations than it’s competitors in the market and only integrates with Twitter and Facebook at present. Pablo offers a simple platform on which to design basic text with a graphic underlay; however,  if the growth of the Buffer platform is anything to benchmark against, the tool could be matching its competitors shortly.


Sketch is a graphic design tool perfectly suited to digital projects. Created for the design of interfaces, websites and logos, Sketch is suited to the demands of startup businesses. With a single fee of $99, the tool boasts an impressive client list and is well positioned for startup business models.

Sketch has limited compatibility, the tool runs with Mac OS X with no plans to expand to Windows or Linux. Whilst an innovative design tool for creative workflow, Sketch is far from a Photoshop replacement. If design/development teams are split between Mac and PC, Sketch files would need to be exported as a PDF for PSD conversion or CSS style guides would be created as standard. 


Lucidchart offers low cost diagram and workflow creation for Windows, Mac and Linux. Operating a SaaS model for it's design offering, Lucidchart could be described as an 'online Visio'. The tool's compatibility is impressive and exports in an array of file formats including .JPEG and .VDX for compatibility with existing Visio files.

Lucidchart offers four models of subscription ranging from free to $20 for the team package.


DrawPlus offers unique creation of logos, drawings, designs and sketches. The tool allows users to import previous work to edit and layer in addition to creating custom vector drawings. DrawPlus X8 is suitable for technical drawing and vector work, image enhancement, illustration and presentation design.

For a download price of $89.99, DrawPlus covers the basic illustration requirements of most startups for a fraction of competitor costs.