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.
Unless you are a professional, design (i.e. a website, logo, or other graphics) can be intimidating. A design project is guaranteed to fall short of its goal when it is 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. Before jumping in, you need a way to plan ahead – a way 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 a great tool if you need a logo, business cards, or any 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 helps designers understanding what you want and allows them to provide feedback.
It can be difficult 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 there are working on a project, the more opinions there will be, which can lead to conflict. A board provides everyone with an opportunity to provide input.
It also helps you avoid designs mistakes. It’s easy to get half-way through a creative project only to discover something isn’t working. This causes delays and wastes money.
The last thing you want to do is pay for a design you don’t like because you didn’t plan in advance. 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 you make 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. Focus on one design element at a time.
Begin with the simplest parts, such as colors and primary images. Then move to fonts and smaller elements, like navigation or 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. For most, a digital platform works best. This is especially true if you have remote team members or will be using a lot of online samples.
If texture plays a significant role in your design or your team works in one location, 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 pin boards 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. 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.
Canva is another great 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 to choose from.
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.
The Mood Board Process
Once 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 own style. These are elements that express your brand’s visual identity.
Style elements include but are not limited to colors, typography, and other images. You should have these essentials in place before you create any designs.
READ MORE: If you need help developing a brand identity, read this article.
Each design has an objective. In almost every case, it’s goal is to enhance your brand in some way. Your mood board should contain samples that align with your brand identity.
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. This will give you 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 want 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 the business you are in. Whatever you create should make sense for your industry 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 images from 1955 (or as close as you can find). Observe elements like fonts, colors, tones, and shades, etc.
This will help you develop accurate design features.
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 samples 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 ideas that are better than the ones you started with.
Step 5: Assess & Adjust
In this step, you will have a better idea of what is working, what isn’t, and any changes that need to be made.
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. 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.
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.
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 simple 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 [email protected].
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,
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