How to create a mood board for your brand.
Today’s post is a fun one! It’s a chance to really dig in and get to the heart of your brand’s aesthetic.
This is the very process I use to create mood boards, and ultimately brand style guides, for my clients.
Grab a glass of wine and stick around as I teach you how to create your very own mood board for your brand.
Note: I always recommend working with a professional designer to ensure that your brand is beautiful as well as cohesive and strategic, but I understand that this option isn’t always feasible for everyone. So if you'd like to DIY a mood board try these steps.
What is a mood board?
Before creating one, it’s important to understand just what a mood board is.
A mood board is a collage of visual ideas and concepts that helps you establish the creative direction for a project. It is a brand’s visual aid that helps you stay consistent with your brand’s vision and vibe.
If you’ve clicked around on this website, you’ve probably gotten a feel for the Bravebird vibe. Before I designed my website or any branded materials, I created a mood board for Bravebird Studio. Check it out below:
These are the images I used to choose my color palette and overall mood for my business.
While curating the images that I used in my mood board (there were MANY more than these six, but I edited them down to these key images), I kept my brand words in mind. They are modern, bold, confident, feminine, and funky and I think the Bravebird mood board does a good job of capturing that spirit.
Why do you need a mood board?
A mood board is an essential item that you or your designer will refer back to when creating your branding. It is the inspiration that will steer a project and inform the decisions that will be made about your brand.
Mood boards are the starting point for determining the color palette, typography, imagery, and photo styling that will end up in your brand style guide.
Also, mood boards are wonderful tools when collaborating on a project related to your brand. You could try to describe your brand’s aesthetic with words only, but isn’t it so much easier and efficient (not to mention fun!) with a collection of images?
Spending a few hours initially to create a mood board for your brand will save countless hours in the long term because you will have outlined your brand’s vibe to a T.
How to create your mood board
When making your mood board, there are some key points to remember:
Keep your brand words and ideal client in mind - this is who you will always be speaking to and who you want to connect with. See this post for help determining your dream client.
Be open-minded and flexible - don't just stick to what you like aesthetically. This isn't about you, it's about your brand and your ideal audience; try out new colors, styles and ideas.
More is always better - it's better to have more choices than you will end up needing; you'll be glad to have a large variety of images to choose from when you finally get down to selecting your top picks.
Diversify (patterns, textures, fonts, logos, colors, photos) - choose LOTS of different styles and see what starts repeating and creating a theme.
Refine and edit - after you have brainstormed and chosen at least 50 images, go through and pick those that really stand out and scream "this is exactly what I want my brand to say".
Step 1: Start pinning to your Pinterest board
I LOVE Pinterest. It is a fabulous place to find inspiration and to keep all of my brand inspiration materials together in one place.
If you’re not using Pinterest yet, sign up for a free account here.
Once you’ve got an account, create a new board and make it secret so no one can see it while you are brainstorming.
To start adding to your board, search for the words that describe your brand. You can also add terms like photo, design inspiration, or logo.
My Pinterest inspiration board looked like this:
Anytime something catches your eye, pin it. You will edit later.
Remember to write in the desicription why you like the image and why you pinned it.
I recommend pinning at least 40-50 images so that you have a good variety to narrow down from.
Step 2: Pick your top 10-15 favorite images.
Go back over your pins and decide which speak to you and your brand the strongest.
Right click on those that do and save the image to your desktop.
Make sure you save 10-15 images. These will be going directly into your mood board file.
To ensure you are staying true to your brand, ask yourself “Does this image resonate with my ideal customer?” and “Is this image true to my brand’s vibe?”
Step 3: Start building your mood board.
You can build a mood board in many different programs like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop or even free software like Canva. I use Adobe Illustrator.
If you need a mood board template, start by downloading the four mood boards in my free resource library. Just enter your info below for access.
Open one of the four mood boards in Adobe Illustrator.
Next, place your 10-15 favorite images in your document and scatter them around your mood board so you can get a good view of all of them at once.
Choose the image that speaks most to your brand’s mood and unique story and add it to the mood board. Create a clipping mask so that the image takes the shape of one of the gray boxes on the mood board.
Repeat this until all 6-10 boxes are filled with your top images. You may have to rearrange some of the images a bit until you’ve got a harmonious balance to your board. Play with it until it’s perfect!
Step 4: Select your color palette.
Now that you’ve got your mood board just how you want it, it’s time to pull colors from all of those gorgeous images. You probably have already noticed a theme appearing from all of the images you pinned.
In Illustrator, make several circles with the ellipse tool (or any shape you prefer), then use the eyedropper tool to start playing with color selections from within your images. Again, go crazy and choose many colors to work with.
Narrow down your color palette to 3-5 main colors. Think about strong main colors and a couple of lighter tints for accent colors.
Arrange the color shapes somewhere alongside your mood board or add your colors to the smaller spaces allotted in some of the pre made mood boards.
Once you have your mood board and color palette, you’ll have a concrete idea of your brand’s aesthetic. With it, you can move on to creating your logo and brand identity or hand it over to a designer and they will have a clear starting point for how you want your brand to look.
Have you made a mood board for your brand? Has it helped you refine your branding?