How to Create Custom Instagram Highlight Covers with Canva

When you’re planning out your social media strategy, it’s important to develop a consistent brand, from your colors to your fonts, to your graphics. And if your brand is on Instagram, you want to make sure that you’re not missing out on a key element of social media branding: Instagram highlight covers. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. We’re teaching you how to create your own custom Instagram highlight covers with Canva in just a few simple steps.

What is Canva?

Before we dive into your custom Instagram highlight covers, let’s talk about Canva. Canva is a graphic design website and app for creating digital and print marketing materials. They have tons of templates, fonts, and colors available to choose from to make the best design possible. To learn more about Canva, check out our previous blog post about it.

Step 1: Create a Canva account

Signing up for Canva is a very easy process, and the best part is that it’s free! To sign up on a computer, all you need to do is head to When you get to Canva’s log in page, here’s what you’ll see:

canva login page

As you can see, Canva gives you several options for signing in, including Facebook, Google, and email. Pick whichever option works best for you, and you’ll be able to create your account.

To sign up for the Canva app on your phone, start by heading to your app store and searching for the app.

Canva in the app store

Once you’ve found the app, simply click download (in this screenshot, the download button reads open because I’ve already downloaded the app). Once the app has downloaded, open the app and you’ll be greeted with this login screen.

canva app login

Click log in, and you can choose which option works for you, Facebook, Google, or email. From there, you can get designing!

Step 2: Navigate the Home page

Once you’ve successfully created a Canva account, you’ll be taken to the home page.

Canva home page

This is basically your design dashboard. Here you can find templates, help chatbot, all of your designs, and the search bar. Now, let’s focus on creating an Instagram story cover.

Step 3: Choosing a Template

If you want to create a design based on existing social media dimensions, click on one of the templates. If you want to start from scratch with your dimensions and design, click “Create a design” in the left sidebar under your name. Let’s keep it simple and click on the Instagram story template that Canva already has made.

canva instagram story template

Once you click on the template, you’ll be taken to the design screen.

Step 4: Navigate the design screen

Here’s what your blank template design screen will look like:

canva design dashboard

As you can see, there are a variety of tools available in the top and side menus. Let’s go over what some of them do.


canva photos

The photos section is where you can find stock photos for your design. Easily search images for any kind of design, but be careful, because some of the photos cost money. To tell which ones are free, simply toggle your mouse over the photo, and the word free will appear in the bottom right corner. Here’s an example:

canva free photo


canva elements

The elements section is where you can find a wide variety of graphics and design elements. If you need frames, charts, lines, or shapes, this is the place to get it.


canva text

The text section is where you can select your headings, subheadings, and body text. This is a great way to get started on the text and font in your design, especially with all the templates to choose from.


canva background

In the background section, you can find a variety of selections for the base of your design. While you can easily apply a plain color background (I’ll show you how later in the post), the backgrounds section is where you can find some textured or patterned options.


canva uploads

The uploads section is where you can add your own photographs or graphic elements. To upload something to your design, click the button at the top that says upload an image. From there, you will be able to access your files, and click the element you want to add. Then, you can click that image or graphic, and it will be placed on the blank template.

Color Selector

canva color selector

The color selector is where you can add different colors to your design. If you want to choose one for a background, click on the blank template, and then choose a color from the selector. It will then auto-fill the background. You can also use this to color different elements, like lines and graphics. Additionally, you can use the search bar to find a specific brand color. All you need is the color code, like the one shown in the search bar “#00c4cc”.


Canva fonts

In the fonts section, you can find a variety of different text styles. Whether you want cursive, modern, serifs, or something unique, Canva has got you covered. You can also use the tools on the right of the drop down font menu to change the size and color of your font.

Step 5: Design

Hooray, you’ve made it! Now that we’ve covered the basics of Canva and it’s design tools, let’s get designing. Here’s how we created our Travel Instagram highlight cover.


For our background, we wanted one of our brand colors. So, we went to our brand guide and chose this color code.

road warrior brand colors

Next, we looked up the color code in Canva, and selected it for our background. Here’s how that looks:

road warrior ig highlight

Graphics Selection

After getting the background filled in, it was time to move on to the elements. We created a travel highlight, and we knew we wanted something that was true to our brand. So, here’s what we looked up:

canva graphic elements

If you don’t already know, Amber & Chris spend a large part of their Summer in our Road Warrior RV traveling around the U.S. and meeting with clients! After looking through the options, we chose the graphic in the top left.

road warrior ig highlight

When you add in these elements, you want to make sure that they’re centered, and Canva will provide you with guide lines to help you make that happen.

Updating Colors

After selecting our graphic element, we wanted to change the color to make sure it was on brand. For this, we chose our gray brand color. To make that happen, we clicked on the RV, and typed in the color code from our brand guide.

RV branded color

Now all of the colors in our highlight cover are on brand and consistent with our other platforms.

Save and Download

After making sure all of the elements and colors are in place, it’s time to save and download your design! First, you want to make sure you give your design a name. To do this, click on the section at the top of the design page that says “Your story-untitled.” Then you can create a new name.

canva file name

Once you have a name, make sure all of the final changes are saved. To do this, click on the file button, scroll down the menu, and click save.

canva save button

Once you’ve saved it, the italics text on the top menu will say all changes saved. Then, you can download your design. To do this, click the download button, and choose your preferred file format. We typically go with JPEG.

canva download

Once your image is downloaded you’re ready to add your cover to your Instagram highlight!

Step 6: Upload to Instagram

To upload your brand new custom cover, start by logging in to your Instagram account. Once there, go to your profile, and click and hold on your one of your highlighted stories.

instagram highlight cover

Then, click edit highlight.

ig highlight edit cover

From here, you’ll be able to edit your highlight cover. To do this, just find your design in your photos, select it, and position your cover into the right spot.

instagram highlight edit cover

Here’s what the finished product looks like:

road warrior highlight covers

Need Help with Your Branding?

If you want some help with creating branded material like custom Instagram highlight covers, reach out to us! We’d be happy to work with you and create something spectacular for your brand.

Thoughts or Questions?

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