Creating a mood board for your brand is a great way to explore your brand style and develop your visual vocabulary which can underline your brand message. It’s, therefore, an important part not only of the brand design process but any bigger design project you plan. Collecting all the inspiration can seem like a painstaking affaire but it can help you to filter all your ideas before designing your brand identity and it’s a great reference you can come back to later on. Surfing the web to get inspired, come on, what’s more fun than that?
What to do before you start creating your mood board?
As always, the fun begins only after a little bit of preparation. You have to make clear what exactly you need to look for and what you want your brand to be known for. In a couple of steps, you can refine your search just by defining your brand style.
What kind of mood board do you want to create?
You have two possibilities. You can create a physical mood board out of magazine clippings, fabrics, cards, stickers, washi tape and other items you can find or you can choose a digital one with images you find online. A digital is certainly easier to create and my preferred method. So in this post, we will focus on digital mood boards.
Finding your brand words
Every one of my clients needs to fill out a brand styling brief before we start working. This brief helps me to find the words that describe their brand and build the base of my research. I look for adjectives with which they describe their brand, the values they want to be known for or words they use to explain their unique style. To cut this short here, just write down which words describe your brand or which words you want people to associate with it. It can often help to think of your brand as a person and filter out this person’s main character traits. Try to limit yourself to maybe 5 words.
Related post: How to define your brand values
Picking your brand colors
Now that you’ve found your brand words you can look for matching colors. Every color has a special meaning. What colors do you think can represent your brand best? Blue, for example, is associated with confidence and trust. It’s the color of the sky and the ocean and is known to have a calming effect on people.
You don’t have to get too specific already. The mood board you’ll create will help you to further elaborate your unique brand colors.
Defining your brand style
Once you have picked your brand words, you can use them to outline the style they could evoke. Of course, the mood board will actually define your brand style but you should have a general idea what to look for when you start. You can see your style as a kind of theme. If you have trouble coming up with your style, think about your brand as a person again. What would he or she wear? What is his or her signature style and how would you describe it?
Where to find inspiration
This is the fun part. I recommend you go wild when looking for inspiration. You can filter out later on but right now, you should just collect everything, you think, fits your brand style. Pinterest is just perfect for this but there are other places you can look as well.
Pinterest makes it easy to search for all kinds of things like photos, patterns or lettering. Make sure to not just look under the rubrics for your kind of brand but also take inspiration from interior design and fashion. These images are always great to evoke a certain mood with fabrics, materials, surfaces, and colors. Save everything to a secret board you can sort through later.
Tip: If you’ve found an interesting image, scroll down to see related pins. Often you find even better stuff in there.
Related post: How to find brand inspiration on Pinterest
Instagram is great if you’re looking for a special theme or mood. You can search for hashtags to see what people associate with your brand words or directly look for accounts in your niche or with a similar style. Don’t copy their style! Just take inspiration from these accounts and look at the kind of images they share.
Unsplash or other stock photo sites
Sites like Unsplash are full of inspiration and easily searchable. Another great bonus is, the images are free to use. If you want to publish your mood board online you don’t need to link to the original images and add an attribution.
Tip: Please remember that the images you find on Pinterest or Instagram are not free to use and you shouldn’t publish them without permission.
Related post: 10 ways to find inspiration for your next design project
Collecting all the pieces for your mood board
Now you know where to look but you also need to know what to look for. In all the places mentioned above, you can search for images using your brand words and words that describe your style. Add your colors to the search term to get more refined results. Other words you can add to your search are the elements you want to add to your brand style. These could be:
Patterns, shapes, illustrations, icons, lettering, texture, fabrics, fonts, typography, graphics and more.
Let’s take a look at how you can proceed your search on Pinterest. If you type in one of your brand words or your color e.g., Pinterest will give you multiple suggestions on how you can refine your search.
When you find a pin you like, they also suggest other pins you might be interested in.
Refine your selection
It’s time to weed out all your images to come up with a selection that truly fits your brand and can go on to your actual mood board. Take a look at every image you’ve selected. What in this image sparked your interest? Does it align with your brand style? About 5 images should be on your mood board + a pattern or lettering if you like and think it fits. Find an overall theme in your images and look for elements that show up repeatedly.
Set up your mood board
You can create your mood board with the software you like. I personally prefer Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. If you don’t want to create one from scratch you can get templates on Creative Market. Choose the layout you prefer for your board. If it’s a grid or more some kind of collage, it’s totally up to you. Then start adding your images. You will realize that sometimes you only see if an image is a good fit if you line them all up next to each other on your board. Don’t hesitate to rearrange and change out images until you’re satisfied with the outcome. Use images of different shapes and sizes or cut them if necessary.
Take a look at my collection of mood boards on Pinterest if you need some ideas for the layout: right here! Don’t forget to follow me once you’re there!! 😉
Can you find your brand colors inside your images? With your mood board almost complete, it’s time to look at those colors. The images can now give you a clearer idea what your brand colors are (what kind of blue, soft or bold?).
Tip: If you work in Illustrator you can use the eyedropper tool to take colors right out of your images. The color guide can then help you to find different shades of your color.
Up to you. Get creative!