brand mood board

Creating a mood board can be a really fun part of the branding process. It's a chance to get creative and really envision how you want your brand to look and feel.

If you want to get the most out of your mood board, you need to have a strategy in how you create it and how you use it.

How to Create Your Mood Board to Get the Most Out of it.

Creating your mood board isn't something you should just blindly jump into. Before you start any visual research you need to first get in writing some thoughts and ideas and what it is you want your branding to communicate. This gives your visual research direction.

If you want to learn more about how to do this, read these posts:

Once you have the written direction to fuel your visual research, you will be able to approach your mood board with confidence. First of all, you want to distil all your writing foundational work into about 20-30 keywords. These words will then be your guide for finding images.

Get on Pinterest, google images, stock sites, Instagram and flick through magazines. Start looking for images that encapsulate the mood and feeling you want to create based on those keywords.

You also need to make sure these images all complement one another. They need to all have a similar feel and vibe and similar colour palette.

Find images that:

  • Simply set the mood
  • Images that show pattern and texture
  • Images that set the tone for the kind of brand photography you want.
  • Show typography that will inspire both your logo and brand fonts
  • Show layout or graphic elements
  • All use a similar colour palette to begin leading you to your final palette
  • Depending on your business, show elements of your industry and what you do/create/make/your process.

Now that you have a good collection of images, you can cull it down to a small selection that flows nicely together, show the various aspects of your brand and have the same overall feel and colour palette.

Make the Most of Your Mood Board

Once your mood board is finished and you are happy with the overall feel, and you have carefully curated it and laid it out to all flow nicely. Now you are feeling inspired to start working on concepts for your brand graphics.

Review Your Image Selection

Before starting on any concepts take a moment to look over your mood board and take note of why you picked the images you did. Was it the vibe, the colour, the detail, the sense of movement, the style. Jot it down, as it will help you better use your mood board. This isn't just about reminding yourself why you picked the images but rather getting you thinking, going deeper into why those images felt right to you and how you may want to bring that same vibe and style into your own branding.

For example, look at this image -

This same image could be chosen for any of these reasons:

  • Australian bush feel
  • Natural organic feel
  • Springtime feel
  • A vintage, nostalgic vibe
  • Old schoolhouse/educational feel
  • Nature journalling feel

There could be more! Everyone will see an image from a different perspective depending on the aim and context. This is why it helps to review you image choices and spend some time thinking about why the image really stood out and spoke to you as something to direct the look of your brand. It may also help you go over and make sure the images you chose really do set you in the right direction.

Narrow Your Keywords

Remember how you wrote those 20 or more keywords before creating your board? Now that you have your finished board, narrow down and add just 10 keywords that tell the feeling and vibe your final mood board now creates. This will help you focus on the overall feel that all your brand graphics need to have as you begin designing them.

It gets you thinking about how to make everything work together cohesively, so they all capture that mood. As you work on sketches and concepts, if you are struggling to choose between a few ideas, go back to those final keywords. Which concept captures that mood best? Which is doing the best job of communicating that vibe?

Inspiration Beyond the Obvious

Look beyond the literal obvious inspiration you can draw from your mood board. Look at the overall movement, shapes, textures, tone, shadows, energy and flow. What do you get a sense of as you look over the board?

Does it create a curvy soft gentle flow or does it have a more bold, jagged, fast and energetic feel?

Consider how your board can inspire the use of shape, movement, space, line, texture and tone in your brand graphics.

Brand Positioning

Your board isn't just about feeling and direction. Your mood board should also give you a sense of how you want to position your brand. Do you want to look exclusive high-end, or approachable professional, or fun and cheap?

Consider how you are wanting to position your brand in the market place. Look at others in your industry and how you want to position yourself compared to them. Keep in mind that there is no 'better' positioning. It's about who you want to serve and how you want to serve them. So when you are intentional in making your brand graphics communicate your positioning, you attract the kind of people you want and for the right reasons.

So taking an overall look at your board, what is your gut reaction about how it positions your brand? Does that align with your intention? If not what needs to change? Because your board will influence your final designs. If you want it to send the right message about your positioning, you need to create that feel in your mood board first, and it will fall into place much more easily.

Mood Board by Your Side

Don't just make a wonderful well thought out mood board and then put it away in a folder. You can't trust your mind to just remember it. Your mood board needs to be right there in front of you as you work on concepts.

As you go through the next stages of the design process, from sketches to final concepts, to tweaks and final designs, keep that mood board right there next to you.

Keep referring to it, because it is so easy to get led astray and get lost in the moment and carried away on a design that no longer fits the original vision. You don't want to end up with a design that doesn't capture what you were after in the first place.

Font and Colour Selection

Finally, let your mood board guide your font and colour selections.

Your board should have all had a similar colour palette. Start picking out colours from the board and test them out. Test them on graphics, make sure they complement one another and start to narrow down your final choices.

Your board should help you find the right tones, saturation and vibrancy. It prevents you from feeling like you are starting from scratch, but have some colour reference points to draw from.

Fonts can be chosen either based on typography on your board, looking for similar fonts and style. Or you could simply use the board to guide the feeling and positioning that the fonts you choose need to communicate.

For example, you could be looking for soft, gentle calming fonts if you based it on feeling. Or if you base it on positioning, you could be looking for modern, sophisticated style fonts.

Start putting your mood board to good use, and design your brand graphics with intention and strategy.

If you want to learn more about the early stages of the design process, and how to infuse more strategy into it, sign up below for my 'Create a Compelling Brand Style' on-demand workshop to learn more.

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