8 key elements you must include on your brand mood board

By March 14, 2019 September 6th, 2019 Branding, Design

I wrote about the importance of mood boards in a previous post, but I thought it’s time to revisit this topic.

In that post, I quickly listed what I usually include on my mood boards. Since then, my process evolved a bit and I’m ready to share the improved version. I think it’ll be useful for you to see what should be included in your mood board and why.

These elements will turn your mood board into an important reference point whenever you feel lost regarding your brand’s style.

WHAT tO INCLUDE oN YOUR BRAND MOOD BOARD

What to include on your brand mood board

#1 - colors

The number one thing that I get from mood boards is the color palette. Sure, often I refine the palette later on, but the mood board gives me a pretty good starting point.

You can mix your color palette with your mood board in two ways:

  • Collect images that fit well together color wise and pick 3-5 colors from them – I usually go with this method.
  •  Define the colors first and collect images that have these colors. If you pick this method, there are many great ways to get beautiful color palettes to start with. My favorite inspiration sources are: @colours.cafe, Colorhunt and good old Pinterest (here’s my board for color inspiration)

#2 - Logo Style

Logos can be made in many different styles: hand drawn, clean and minimalistic, monoline, vintage, etc. I like to add 1-2 references so that I stay in that graphic style during the design process.

#3 - Graphic elements

Your visual identity will include more than just the logo and colors. So it’s important to collect references for the following items:

  • Patterns and textures
  • Frames and borders
  • Illustration – my favorite inspiration source is Behance

These elements can add playfulness to your brand and make it look even more unique. Collect inspiration that will help you design your own patterns, textures, frames and illustrations.

#4 - Typography

Fonts are important parts of your visual identity, so I recommend adding at least 1-2 example of the fonts you’d like to experiment with during the design process.

My favorite places to find typography inspiration are Typewolf, Dribbble, and here’s my Pinterest board with my favorite typography and hand lettering finds from all over the web.

#5 - Your values

It’s useful to add a list of values and adjectives to your mood board. Why?

Because there are some sophisticated moods, feelings that are hard to express with photos.

A good example is honesty. It’s an important value but it’s hard to express visually. Of course, you can try finding cheesy stock photos with people holding hands as a sign of “trust” but this will look too enforced. Honesty not always comes through your brand’s visual identity. It’s something that other parts of your business (customer service, quality control, marketing, copywriting) can emphasize more easily.

You can also add adjectives that you want to make sure your design will reflect, e.g. feminine, handmade, healthy, etc.

#6 - Your ideal customer

I recommend adding at least one image of your envisioned ideal customer to the mood board. This helps you see a real-life person and imagine how she would interact with your product.

What type of person is she? How does she dress – what brands does she wear? How does she look like? What is her comfort environment where she feels good? These are questions that help you find the right image for your mood board.

#7 - Your brand’s effect

What is the positive effect that your brand brings into the world? This is something that I like adding to my clients’ mood boards because it helps me think about the big picture goals and my clients’ vision. It’s one thing to have a beautiful logo and a completely different thing to have a visual identity that has meaning.

In some cases, I just add this in written format. Other times I can find related images that fit the overall style. You can go both ways.

What do you offer? What will the end result look and feel? How would your customers’ lives change for the better?

For example you can use an image of a happy, relieved customer if you offer life coaching. Or a beautiful tropical scenery in case  your service brings more financial freedom for your clients.

#8 - Physical items

Finally, you have to consider how you want your logo and other visual identity elements live in a real environment. For some people, this only means the business card and website. For others, it’s more complex. Here’s a long list of physical and digital environments / objects where your logo and visual identity will be present. Collect images for those that are relevant to your business:

  • Business cards
  • Packaging
  • Website
  • Social media profiles
  • Social media posts
  • Web shop headers (Etsy, Creative Market, Shopify)
  • Brick &mortar shop signage
  • Printed collateral (posters, flyers, postcards)
  • Office stationery
  • Uniforms
  • Vehicle signage
  • Office or brick & mortar shop interior design
  • Books, e-books, book covers
  • Free downloadable resources you create for your customers
  • Presentation slide decks (that you use during your webinars, courses, employee trainings, client meetings)

What’s next?

Next week, I’m going to show you how I’m combining the above elements to create a beautiful and functional mood board for a project I’m currently working on. This is going to be a technical video tutorial (for those who are new to Photoshop and Illustrator) and also a sneak peek into my creative decision-making process. So stay tuned.

As always, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask them here in the comment section or in email.

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