How to Make a Mood Board That Guarantees Amazing Design

A mood board is a powerful tool that can help you create inspiring brand designs. Build yours using this 5-step framework.

How to make a mood board that guarantees great design.

Unless you are a professional, design (i.e., a website, logo, or other graphics) can be intimidating. Furthermore, a design project is guaranteed to fall short of its goal when treated as something to “check off the list”.

Most of us know designs should look good. But they must also do something.

Your brand designs:

  • communicate messages and themes
  • are extensions of your business

This perspective sheds new light on the approach to any design project. It’s something to be taken seriously. After all, you’re creating an image that will represent your business in some way.

It will make an impact on your target audience and brand image, be it good or bad. But, before jumping in, you need a way to plan to make sure that whatever you create is the best it can be.

Thankfully, we have mood boards.

Why Do You Need a Mood Board?

A mood board is a collection of images, colors, materials, or words used in the visual design process. They are popular in website, graphic, and interior design, as well as branding.

A mood board is an excellent tool if you need a logo, business cards, or other visual brand assets. It will ensure that your design project is a success while helping you stay “on brand”.

As I have stated before, if it doesn’t make sense for your brand, avoid it.

A mood board also helps guide any professional designers you hire. It allows designers to understand what you want and will enable them to provide feedback.

It can be challenging to visualize a design from scratch. You may not always be clear on what everything will look like before you put it together. A mood board makes it easier to get a better idea of what will work and what won’t.

Teams will find that a mood board keeps everyone on the same page. The more people working on a project, the more opinions there will be, leading to conflict. A board provides everyone with an opportunity to provide input.

It also helps you avoid designs mistakes. It’s easy to get halfway into a creative project to discover something isn’t working. These issues cause delays and waste money.

The last thing you want to do is pay for a design you don’t like because you didn’t plan. A mood board will give you confidence that the project will be successful before you begin.

Building a board reveals trends. It will be easier to create a unique design by comparing your concepts to those of competitors. After all, the goal is to stand out, and you can’t do that when you look like everyone else.

Before You Get Started

You don’t need to know everything about the design you want to create before making a mood board. The first step is to get clear on what you like.

Don’t try to do too much. Otherwise, you will end up confused and overwhelmed. Instead, focus on one design element at a time.

Begin with the fundamental elements, such as colors and primary images. Then move to fonts and navigation menus. The more prominent aspects of your design will guide the smaller ones.

How to Make a Mood Board

Before you create a board, you need to determine the best way to do it. A digital platform works best for most, especially if you have remote team members or use several online samples.

Suppose texture plays a significant role in your design or your team works in one location. In that case, a traditional mood board may be ideal. You can use a bulletin board to build a collage of images from magazines and other print media.

Pinterest is my platform of choice for developing a mood board. It’s filled with design inspiration and ideas. It’s also a quick and easy way to get started with your own.

To begin, go to Pinterest. If you don’t have an account, you will have to set one up.

Create a new board and give it a name (i.e., “Mood Board Inspiration”) that will set it apart from any other pinboards you have.

In the search bar, enter the type of business you have followed by the word “design”.

The search results usually include ideas for logos, websites, and business cards. In addition, you can try other search terms, such as “(your industry) inspiration” or “(your industry) ideas”. Often, Pinterest will make other suggestions.

See the image below as an example.

This image is an example of a pinterest mood board search.

Canva is another excellent platform for creating a mood board. Like Pinterest, it’s easy to use. There are free and paid versions, but you can use the free one. Create an account or log in and search for “mood board”. You will see several examples from which to choose.

This image is an example of a canva mood baord.

Milanote is a fantastic online tool with a feature designed specifically for mood boards. This platform is good if you’re in the creative industry and use mood boards for clients.

This image is an example of a milanote mood board,

The Mood Board Process

Now that you have determined the platform you will use to create your mood board, it’s time to get to it.

Step 1: Start with Your Brand Style

Every brand has its style. These are elements that express your brand’s visual identity.

Style elements include but are not limited to colors, typography, and other images. It would be best to have essentials in place before you create any designs.

READ MORE: This blog post is helpful if you need help developing a brand identity.

Each design has an objective. In almost every case, the goal is to enhance your brand in some way. Therefore, your mood board should contain samples that align with your brand identity.

This is an example of a brand color palette.
Your mood board should contain samples that match your brand color palette.
Serif font vs. Sans serif font example.
Typography matters too.

Step 2: Add Imagination

Chances are, you will have an idea of what you want your design to look like before you start. If you don’t, working through the mood board exercise will give you clarity.

Find samples of designs you like. You will use these initial designs as a foundation on which to build. These samples can come from any number of sources, not just your industry. Great design inspiration can come from almost anywhere.

As you do this, think of how you want your design to make someone feel. Having an idea will enable you to find samples that communicate these emotions. For example, if you’re going to evoke a “magical” feeling, Walt Disney may provide some inspiration.

Develop a few boards, each one representing a possible design direction. As you build each one, consider your industry. Whatever you create should make sense for your business and target market.

So, if senior citizens are in your audience, you should consider their preferences. Even though it’s your design, your target audience is a big part of your brand identity.

To get the most realistic and accurate results, use “source” images. So, for your design to have a vintage appearance circa 1955, use actual pictures from 1955 (or as close as you can find). Observe elements like fonts, colors, tones, and shades.

This process will help you develop accurate design features.

Vintage sign

Step 3: Review Your Rough Draft

Once you’re satisfied with the initial samples you have collected, look over them. Take note of anything that stands out. What trends do you observe—colors, fonts, symbols?

Use this step to get clear on what you want to design.

Of course, some of the samples you choose won’t work. Experiment with several examples until you discover the best direction to take.

Step 4: Take a Break

After you have reviewed your rough draft, take a break for a day or two, longer if possible. Stepping away and coming back to it later will give you a fresh perspective. You may return with new and even better ideas.

Step 5: Assess & Adjust

In this step, you will have a better idea of what is working, what isn’t, and any needed changes.

Experiment as you make changes. For example, use a different font or color for each element to see what impact it makes.

Remember, you can always drop ideas and images that don’t work. However, avoid putting too much pressure on yourself to get it right in the beginning. This process will evolve as you work through it.

Repeat this process until you have landed on a design concept you like.


READ MORE: The Complete Guide to Brand Design for Business Owners


Don’t forget to use words in your designs. Include your brand components (specifically, your logo) where possible and if appropriate. But don’t force anything. Keep working with each element until you find a natural fit.

Conclusion

Coming up with inspiration for a design isn’t always easy. It’s also tricky when you have to communicate intangible ideas among team members. A mood board provides a quick and straightforward solution.

There is enough information in this article to guide you through the mood board exercise. But you may have questions or need help that goes beyond what you find here.

If this is the case for you, reach out to me personally at chris@goldenvineyardbranding.com.

If you want to find out how we can help you create a brand design that looks good and achieves your goals, click here.

Until next time,

Chris

Chris Fulmer

Chris Fulmer

Director, The Golden Vineyard Branding Company

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