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Mood Boards: A How-To Guide

A mood board is a visual presentation of a brand. It is composed of the thoughts, images, pieces, textures, and colors that when assembled, can inspire brand creation. Mood boards illustrate the overall style and feel of your brand that should be considered when creating any visual identity piece including the logo, collateral, ads, etc. Having a tangible, visual guide can even inspire the messaging and content to fit into a certain feel. The mood board is what drives your brand process. 

Every brand design should have an accompanying mood board, because the board will help to inspire creativity as you are developing your brand. Mood boards keep a brand consistent in their look when creating content and curating the visual identity. 

Start with a solid foundation. 

Keep in mind your audience as you begin to assemble materials for your mood board.  What is your goal?  Make sure you aren’t pulling items for your mood board that speak to you on a personal level, rather, as facets that are beneficial in representing your brand.  The best way to do this is setting a solid foundation and honing information from your creative brief, brand positioning statement, brand values, and research on your target audience.  

Seek inspiration everywhere you go. 

Get a sketchbook. Even if you can’t draw (or just think you can’t!), use it to write down what catches your eye: a thought or idea, something you are passionate about, a key message you want to convey. Keep pictures that you speak to you, draw a simple pattern you like. Take a picture of a sign that catches your eye, print it out; pick a flower you believe blends well with your brand and press it into your book. Use ribbons, fabric and paint swatches. Cut out images or advertisements from a magazine.  The fun thing about seeking out materials in everyday life is that an entire piece does not have to work well with your brand in order to work well with your brand.  But in deconstructing your surroundings, you are able to strip down to see these creative parts in their basic elements to rebuild them into something that is cohesive, fluid and most importantly, on brand.

The biggest thing when looking for the content to create your mood board? Make it physical. While it’s great to peruse the internet (and sites like Milanote, Behance, and Pinterest), don’t let the magic stop there. Print your ideas.  Hang them, or attach them to your sketchbook. The physicality of it will ensure you’re able to return back to the ideas frequently and with ease.

Condense and keep the pieces that inspire you.

After you have collected all the pieces that inspire you, it’s time to narrow it down to what relates to and speaks to your brand. What images, textures, colors, fonts should be representing the brand? Get a tack board, cork board or large thick poster board and start putting those pieces onto it. Put everything on that you feel represents the brand effectively and pulls the right feeling values. Only use the pieces that really mean something and communicate the feel or tone of the brand. 

Once you are happy with your mood board, use it to show your designer, marketing team, executives and anyone else that will be involved in the creative process and decision making on the direction for the brand. The mood board is meant to be visual inspiration when creating the pieces of your brand. 

This step of the visual identity process is all about finding what inspires your brand and using it to get even more creative. It is the visual piece that everyone will see instead of just the words. It will keep everyone on the same page about what the visual should look like.