Mood boards serve a real purpose beyond being a pretty accent on an Instagram feed. Over 65% of the world’s population is made up of visual learners. That means 65% of people feel more connected to a concept when they can see it represented in front of them.
Whether it’s a brand project, a book idea, a photoshoot, an event, or an interior design adventure, a curated set of photos (aka: a mood board) can help us “set the scene.”
Today we’re going to explore what a mood board really is, why it’s so powerful (especially when it comes to brand design), and how you can curate an effective one rooted in storytelling.
The definition of a mood board is: an arrangement of images, materials, pieces of text, etc. intended to evoke or project a particular style or concept.
Other definitions we like to use are:
A mood board can be digitally curated on a site like Pinterest (this is part of our journey with brand and web design clients), or physically in a notebook, or hanging on the wall.
You may be familiar with “vision boarding” which is a very similar concept that has more to do with goal setting. Mood boards are all about putting visuals to a feeling, a vibe, a tone, or an atmosphere you’re looking to achieve.
As we shared in this blog post, building a brand is a lot like building a fictional world. A brand is three-dimensional, an immersive experience that you invite your audience into. But what would this world feel like? Look like? What’s the important symbolism?
When you create a mood board you’re creating a door. A way to step into the world of your brand.
We’re often at a loss of words when it comes to describing our visions, (or at least, words seem to fall flat) it’s so much easier to SHOW what you mean.
When you’re working with a designer who asks you to curate a brand mood board, it’s not merely an extra step to fill time. It’s a way for you to share your vision with the designer so they’re not guessing on the overall atmosphere you’d like to achieve.
Mood board building is also a powerful way to break you away from “just pretty” design choices.
You might love a particular style of logo or color palettes…but a mood board helps you consider “why” you like that style? Does it give you a feeling that you think resonates with the world of your brand? Does it symbolize something that aligns with what you do?
Our client, Lauren Mudrock loved pineapple symbolism because they represented welcoming energy—something very key to her brand.
You’ll find as we go along that there is an art to mood-boarding, it’s not simply putting together images you like—it’s being intentional about the story you’re trying to tell. The scene you’re trying to paint.
Now let’s talk about what to actually add to your mood board. If you’re a solo entrepreneur it’s likely your brand will share a lot of characteristics as your personality.
Sometimes it’s easier to start with imagining images that correspond with your personality. Make a list if that helps!
Afterwards you can decide how much of your personality will be infused into your brand identity and if there are any smaller personality traits of yours that don’t fit with your vision for your brand (while we encourage being the real you in your business, it’s okay to keep some things to yourself).
Pinterest is one of the easiest ways to create a personality-packed mood board. But what to type in to find the perfect images for your vision?
Using words like “aesthetic” “vibe” or “core” are great for finding niched images. Let’s look at some examples:
The word “core” is a popular suffix used to explain the main idea/vibe of something ex:
The key will be finding a few words for your brand personality and trying out combinations to find aligned images. It’s a fun little adventure, and believe us, you’ll get on a role once you start.
We think the easiest place to start with a mood board is symbolism. Consider those personality traits from above and start sifting through images that represent those traits:
After you’ve curated some symbolic scenes go back and try to pick out some themes in the colors of your images. Maybe you’ll realize you gathered a lot of images with blue hues, browns, dark tones, or very light and airy colors?
Notice how we didn’t suggest adding colors first…you may have a color in mind for your brand already, but what does that color actually mean to you? Does it truly align with the intended personality of your brand?
Once you’ve noted any recurring colors (and maybe you didn’t see a pattern, that’s okay) it’s time to start gathering images with color swatches that you envision for your brand.
If you’re working with a designer then they will help you identify color trends within your moodboard. Adding colors on your own will help your designer see what you’re drawn too.
Consider a combination of colors including:
Finally with symbolic and colored images, go back again and see if you can pick out any texture patterns.
Maybe there’s a lot of images with a linen or canvas texture? Earthy textures like grass, foliage, or bark? Grungy brick, metals, or pavement? Fog, mist, tulle, satin, wood, stucco, paint, dreamy light, deep shadows etc.
Once you’ve noted any textures in your previous images you can go searching further into those styles and add some pictures with that texture at the forefront.
A quality moodboard is one that tells a story. One that you can scroll through and find cohesive threads…colors, textures, and symbols that could all exist in the same world. A sense of harmony.
We encourage you to go through you mood board once you’ve collected a variety of images and reflect:
If you’re unsure about any of your answers you can go back and try to discern where the disconnect is. Maybe your moodboard is missing a key element that resonates with both you and your ideal clients. Maybe there’s too much of one feeling and not enough of another.
Play around to balance out the overall tone.
Maybe you’re creating a mood board as a homework assignment for you to work with a brand designer already. If so, it’s time to share it with them! Feel free to let them know if you struggled to find images for any particular feeling so they can collaborate with you.
If you created a mood board for your brand on your own, what can you do with it now?
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