Why You Should Make Mood Boards For Your Brand
When you’re developing your brand, you may have a medley of ideas and visions for what you want it to look like. Maybe you’re totally stumped at how to narrow them down — you know there should be a strategy behind your brand’s look and feel, but you’re not sure where to start. The good news is that inspiration is everywhere. From other brands you admire to street art you find when out on a walk, there’s no shortage of beautiful ideas for developing your own brand. Or maybe you already have plenty of inspiration in mind. From colors to typography, you may know what you like, but it might not always be the most cohesive. So how do you organize all of your ideas in a meaningful way? That’s where mood boards come into play.
A mood board is…
A mood board is typically a one-page, straightforward collage of visuals which offer a guide to the personality and identity of a brand or product. It’s a tool in the creative direction of your brand that tells you what your visuals should look like or how your brand should make people feel. Some people like to use websites like Pinterest or Instagram to create virtual boards or collections that represent their brand, but you don’t have to over-complicate it. Having a one-page board that shows you the basic elements of your brand is key to creating cohesive visuals that people can instantly recognize as representing your brand.
Mood boards are different from vision boards in a few ways. While vision boards often refer to your goals or hopes for the future, mood boards are a more concrete source of planning for your brand’s aesthetic. Both can be important when developing a brand, but mood boards provide you with parameters you can follow when designing your visual assets, such as new products or social media posts.
The importance of mood boards
Perhaps the most important reason for mood boarding is so you can decide on your brand’s visual direction. There are some brands that are immediately identifiable based on simple visual cues, such as colors or shapes. Think of McDonald’s and its distinct red-and-yellow color scheme. You don’t need to see the word “McDonald’s” to know that a box in these colors probably contains one of their products. You want your brand to become so cohesive that someone is able to look at a certain product or post and know that it comes from you. Mood boards can help get you there by providing you with a straightforward guide to the visual elements of your brand.
Mood boarding also makes it easier to collaborate or explain your vision to others. If you’re working in a team, for example, showing a mood board for a new product launch can be a more effective tool than verbally explaining your vision. A mood board can help your team see exactly what the product should look like and what kind of feelings it should invoke. You can also take your mood board to a marketing agency you’re working with so they can quickly understand what your brand is about and help you to push out more cohesive content. It’s a way to get everyone on the same page and provide a consistent tool to refer back to when working on new assets.
Mood boards are also great for those who are just getting started in the world of branding. It can be overwhelming when you have thousands of ideas floating around in your mind but have a hard time pinning down a few solid ones that make sense for your brand. Mood boards are a powerful tool in organizing these ideas and visualizing the concepts you’ve been thinking about. There’s still a learning curve when it comes to knowing how to strategize these visuals to properly tell the story of your brand, but smoothing out your ideas in a mood board is an excellent start.
Likewise, if you do brand strategy for clients, making a mood board is a way to ensure you and your client are on the same page. It would be a good idea to start by giving them a questionnaire or having a one-on-one conversation with them about their brand vision and goals. From there, you can develop visuals that represent the information they provided you with. By having your client approve a mood board, you both can move forward feeling sure that your client’s needs are being met and that you will be able to develop assets or a strategy for them that is authentic to their brand.
Finally, mood boards can save you time. If you’ve picked a five-color palette, for example, you can easily pick from those when working on something for your brand, such as an Instagram post. You don’t have to spend time deciding which colors you like or what makes sense for that particular post; you can easily select from one of your established brand colors. Not only will this give you more time to focus on the heart of your business, but it will also make your visuals appear cleaner and more put together since everything has the same feel to it. This isn’t to say that all of your assets or posts should look exactly the same — they shouldn’t! Your audience is interested in variation, but by keeping key elements the same such as colors and shapes, it will all flow together seamlessly while still offering new content.
What to include
There’s really no limit to what you can include on your mood board. Anything that you feel represents your brand’s visual identity is fair game. Here are some types of assets that you might want to include when mood boarding:
- Photos. If you’re starting from scratch, you can use stock photos or even photoshoots from other brands on your mood board. The goal isn’t to copy, of course, but to represent what style you want your visuals to take on. The pictures you choose don’t have to mean that you want your own pictures or product to look exactly that way, either — they could be a reference to how you want your customer to feel when engaging with your brand.
- Example: Deodorant brand Secret might include mock-ups of what its product might look like, but other photos might also be included on its mood board. Including photos of the ocean or an open field on its mood board might suggest that Secret wants its customers to feel the freshness of these landscapes when using its products.
- Colors. Including three to five color swatches on your mood board can help put out content that has a unified look to it. It can be helpful to include the Hex codes or RGB values alongside your color palette so you can easily use these colors across your other programs. Remember — every color means something, so you should choose your brand colors strategically. (Check out our blog about color psychology if you’re still trying to figure out your brand colors.)
- Example: Think of health food brand Whole Foods. What color palette might be on their mood board? Using bright and shocking pinks or reds might not really make sense for this brand. Instead, opting for a palette filled with earth tones better tells the story of its brand. Whole Foods wants to promote wellness and a connection to the earth, and using these colors can help get this message across to its customers.
- Typography. This is the art of how you style your fonts. Brands should ideally only have two or three fonts that they use regularly; otherwise, your message can get lost under confusing visuals. It’s good to have a balance between the fonts you choose. If you want your headings or logo to be a fancy script, it’s best to keep your complimenting font simple and easy to read.
- Example: Let’s pretend we’re making a mood board for Coca-Cola. Its classic script font may be the first thing that pops into your mind when we think about visuals. This curly logo would certainly be an important asset to include on Coca-Cola’s mood board. However, this isn’t the only typography they use. Imagine how hard everything would be to read if it was all written in that font! Instead, Coca-Cola opts for a simple sans serif font for most of its body copy. In this case, we would put both Coca-Cola’s iconic typography plus the supplemental sans serif font on its mood board to have an easy go-to for what fonts the brand should use.
- Quotes. Including quotes can be helpful for getting a sense of your brand voice. If you have a tagline or message you want to repeat to your customers, include that on your mood board. You can also include an inspirational quote by someone who your brand personality resonates with. Anything goes, as long as it’s helping you better understand your brand and how to promote it.
- Example: If we were making a mood board for Nike, we might want to include its “Just Do It” slogan. Not only does this statement tell us more about Nike’s brand personality, but we can also use the quote when developing new assets for the brand.
- Shapes and patterns. Most brands use some kind of graphic design element in addition to photos. Having pre-approved sets of shapes or patterns that work for your brand can save you time when creating new assets.
- Example: Tech giant Apple is easily recognized by its iconic logo: a simple apple shape. On Apple’s mood board, they may include the different variations of this shape, such as black, white, and rainbow. This apple is necessary to include on the mood board because it is a staple of the brand and guides nearly all of its visuals.
How do you actually make a mood board — and where do you go next?
Mood boards can be made either physically or digitally. If you want to make a physical mood board, you can print images from the internet, or cut out inspiring visuals from magazines. Aside from the assets, you’ll want to use a thick piece of paper that won’t tear and some glue.
If you opt to go the digital route, there are lots of programs available to you. For beginners, Canva is a great and easy-to-use resource which even provides its own library of images and graphics that you can use for even more inspiration. Adobe programs such as InDesign, Photoshop or Illustrator can be a step above the basics. With these apps, you can customize any photos or typography to really hone in on your particular brand’s look. Once you’re done with your digital mood board, we recommend printing out a copy and keeping it on hand in your workspace so you’re always able to refer to it.
But creating your mood board is just the first step. What comes next is actually applying it when making the visual assets of your brand. This can include social media posts, product designs, logos, business cards, etc. Remember — your mood board is a guide to your brand’s visual identity. When you make a mood board for your brand, you’re giving yourself (and anyone you’re working with) something to refer to in order to ensure cohesion between all of your assets.
Creating a mood board can be difficult if you don’t consider yourself much of a designer. It’s ok! There is inspiration everywhere. But if you’re having trouble finding the right inspiration for your brand, drop us a line! The Creative Juice designers can help you create a mood board (or two!) that not only looks beautiful and cohesive, but is strategically created to help your brand stand out in the crowd. 🍑