Creating a Mood Board for Your Brand: a Step-by-Step Guide

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When people mention brand-building, mood boards are rarely the first thing that comes up. Even so, be it for digital purposes or physical, crafting a mood board is one of the simplest ways to help you with your brand.

While they’re not anything new, it’s surprising how little people know about mood boards. They happen to be a great way to organize and guide your creative input. 

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They work well for both personal and business matters. So much so that it’s easy to find ready-made mood boards to serve as examples.  

Some of these were made to support a project while others were made just to describe an individual’s mood. These end up becoming great sources of inspiration when others attempt to put one together themselves.

Mood board example

Picture 1. Mood boards are a great way to organize your creative input

The Argument for the Use of Mood Boards

So why do we even need mood boards? Well, the reality is creativity is a fickle friend. For some people, they just aren’t in touch with their creative side. For others, ideas come so often that it becomes difficult to make anything coherent. 

In either case, the mood board will be a useful tool. That’s because creativity isn’t something we can force. We’re sure you’ve had those times when ideas came so slowly you worried about meeting project deadlines. 

Fortunately, keeping your creative juices flowing isn’t the only benefit. To summarize, some benefits you gain are:

Clearly Defined Intentions 

With a mood board, ideas are collected and organized based on a central “theme.” This clear definition of intent makes it easy for creatives to target a particular “message.”

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Better Management of Time

Seeing how important time management is, it’d be worth noting how mood boards address this. Since everything on the mood board is curated, team members spend more time on details rather than general ideas.

Efficient Workflow

Due to its curated structure, brand managers can improve efficiency of workflow with mood boards. That’s thanks to the collection of raw ideas on a mood board, allowing team members to focus on the important details. 

Combine the above with the fact that they’re simple to make, mood boards are looking to be an effective organizational tool. If you think about it, they really are a simple fix, across both available mediums.

That’s because, as with most presentations these days, mood boards can come in the form of a digital mood board or a physical mood board. Let’s take a look at how these can differ.

Mood boards improve the efficiency of workflow

Picture 2. Mood boards improve the efficiency of workflow

Digital

Thanks to the digital platform’s flexibility, mood boards done this way can come in a more diverse set. Aside from the usual text and photo samples, videos can be collected as well. 

Aside from that, sizing will be easier to adjust as compared to a physical medium. All this means that you’ll have to be careful with what you’re including. 

After all, having too many elements on your mood board can be counter-productive. Keep this in mind when making your selections.

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Physical

The advantage of physical mediums, on the other hand, is in terms of feel. Imagine trying to present the idea of a texture to an audience. Without a physical sample, it would be almost impossible to describe the texture exactly as it is.

Be that as it may, it still is limited by what you have available physically. If you’ll be using a physical medium, remember to keep expectations real. Sometimes, finding physical samples can be very difficult. 

Either medium would suit the needs of the modern brand manager. The medium you choose would depend on how you plan to present or share your output. 

But enough talking about how you can benefit from a board. To help you get started, let’s take a look at the steps necessary to make one for you and your brand.

5 Steps to Get Started on Your Mood Board

1. Determine Your Intentions

The first step involves figuring out exactly what kind of “message” you’re trying to send the audience. That means sitting down and writing down all the possible ideas you can think of.

What pattern comes to mind? Read through your list of ideas and try to come up with some keywords that relate to your brand and your brand message. By keyword, we aren’t talking about Google’s kind of keyword.

Let’s say we’re trying to talk about the benefits of using our product. For a non-creative context, let’s say our website or store sells padlocks at budget prices. 

If that’s the message we’re trying to sell, we can try these keywords:

  • Home security
  • Budget padlocks
  • Padlocks for home use
  • Security on a budget

It doesn’t have to be complicated. These keywords are only here as a guide to direct your ideas. You can use these as starting points when you do your research phase. 

In this way you won’t be distracted by anything unrelated to the target message. In other words, structure in your workflow is supported by the base you’ve built on the keywords.

2. Research!

We can never avoid research. It’s an essential step in most tasks. For mood boards, this is actually the fun part. Research, in this case, means going through the internet and other sources to look for examples of our keywords. 

The kind of sample you collect will depend on your medium. Digitally, videos and GIFs can be included. Some examples are:

  • Infographics
  • 3D renditions 
  • Audio/Video samples
  • Other digital-only formats

For physical, try to find an actual example of the material you want to include. Some examples could be:

  • Sample of materials (for texture)
  • Sample of materials (for color)
  • Cutouts from magazines
  • Photographs

Also, either medium can contain text samples. These could be words or phrases that act as prompts you can use anytime you get lost in the process. Once you hit a creative wall, one glance at the board is all you need to snap back into it. 

If you can, take your time with this step; thorough research can yield twice as many results of a better quality. 

3. Filter the Extras Out

We’re willing to bet that almost everyone would go a little overboard during the research phase. More often than not, people end up collecting too many samples to create anything cohesive.

Help yourself out by curating your collection. At the time you picked them they may have looked perfect for the board. Now that you have everything in one pile, have another look at them and see what you can weed out.  

Weeding out the extras will help you avoid any further distractions. It’s almost impossible to accurately predict what you’ll be using, so be patient with yourself.  

Another benefit of this curation is the ability to better understand your samples. Question the reason why you chose these samples. Some guide questions you could ask are:

  • Why did this sample remind me of [keyword]?
  • Is this sample really relevant?
  • What does this contribute to the mood board?
  • Does this sample add any new “messages” to the brand?

This is also a great way of refining your end-message. Take this time to study the samples you have on hand to better eliminate any redundancies or irrelevant ideas. 

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4. Attach the Initial Collection

Once done with that, try attaching everything to the board. This can be fun but it also can be done wrong. 

That’s because a mood board is supposed to organize your ideas. Slapping everything on haphazardly is the worst thing you can do for yourself. In both digital and physical mediums, it’d be best if you give things some structure.

The curation process should have helped you with this. Some people do this by sector, by flow, or by narrative significance. Figure out how you want to present this and things should be easy for you. 

Simply put, it’s about understanding your own thought process. Think of it as a form of self-assessment.

Organize your ideas

Picture 3. Giving things structure is extremely important in the process

5. Review Your Work

After having everything on your board, the last thing you have to do is to take a step back. We mean this both literally and figuratively. 

This is important because our perspective of the board is naturally the perspective of the “author.”  From conceptualization to actualization, our eyes have been focused on the specifics of it all. 

Taking a step back will allow us to view the mood board from the perspective of an observer. Even if this is for a personal brand, you can’t know if months from now you’ll remember every little thought that you had on the subject.

Make it easy for yourself and your team by making sure things are clear from the start. 

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Conclusion

Now, if necessary, the only thing left to do is to present this to your team. If it’s something you’re doing for yourself, hang it in a spot where you can easily see it. It should give you a certain sense of pride seeing it in its finished form.

Having a mood board close by is one of the best things you can do for your brand-building. All it takes is a little effort and you’ve got yourself a handy way to guide your brand. 

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Creating a Mood Board for Your Brand: a Step-by-Step Guide was last modified: December 23rd, 2020 by Martina Pranjic
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