A “mood board,” or “vision board” or “inspiration board,” is exactly what you might think it is.
A mood board is a board—either physical or digital—that contains a collection or collage of images, graphics, typography, colors, patterns, textures, and anything else that helps identify and convey a mood or vision for—and inspire—a design project.
You can use it to inspire and guide design decisions. It allows designers and clients to communicate with each other so that everyone involved understands the direction, intent, and vision for the project. Interior designers use them. They are also used extensively in fashion.
Mood Boards Are Perfect For the Branding Process
A mood or vision board is especially useful in the branding or rebranding process as a way to brainstorm ideas and then hone in on the visual aspects of your brand. Once your board is finalized, you can use it to guide the branding process, keep your brand identity consistent, and communicate with others (designers, web developers, company stakeholders, etc.) the vision for your brand.
Creating a mood board is a powerful exercise because it requires a clear understanding of your brand values, brand personality, and target market. As a result, you may find that as you create your board, you have to go back and work on these areas.
Consistency is Key For Your Mood Board
Like everything involving your brand, consistency rules the day. Creating a mood board, however, may lead you astray, even if you do have a clear understanding of your brand values, personality, and target market. This is because you may be tempted to pick images or other design elements that you like, rather than picking elements that are consistent with your brand and what your customers will like.
Our suggestion? Create a separate brainstorming file—a place to put images and other items that you may like that don’t necessarily fit your brand. You never know what might stir creativity or inspire you down the road.
But when deciding what should go on your brand’s mood/vision board, you must stay consistent with your brand. For each item ask, “Is this aligned with my brand’s values and personality? Does it strike the right tone? Will my target audience like this image or color? Only after you have answered those and other brand-alignment questions should you ask, “Do I like it?” and “Does it feel right?”
If the answers to all of those questions are yes, add it to the board.
Keep in mind there are different styles of mood boards. One style is the free-form, collage-style mood board, where images and other design elements fill the board without structure.
The other style, which can be helpful if you are not working with a designer, is a template-style mood board. To give you an example, we created a mood board for Chapter 2 Creative using our mood board template:
Think a mood board template will help you with your design project? Grab our free mood board template (for Adobe Illustrator) and get in the mood!
What Happens Next?
So what do you do with a mood board once it is finished?
If you are designer, a completed mood board is presented to the client as a way to convey the designer’s vision for the design process (whether it is a branding project, or interior design project, or fashion design project). Sometimes a designer will present one mood board, while other times a designer might present multiple boards with different “visions” or “moods,” allowing the client options to choose from.
But we think mood boards are just as important when embarking on a project without a professional designer. A mood board’s ability to create focus and consistency will save many hours down the road when you create your visual brand elements and build your website.
What’s the Difference Between a Mood Board and a Brand Board?
A mood board should not be confused with a “brand board.” A “brand board” is a final “deliverable” arising from the branding process. It is an easy reference for the final design elements that establish the brand, such as the final logo, typography, and colors. (Not to be confused with the more detailed “brand style guide”).
In short, the mood board begins the visual branding process, the brand board (and brand style guide) finishes it.
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Creating a mood board up front makes the design process faster and will lead to a consistent brand that people will know, like, and trust. They are great way to help establish the basics for your brand visuals. They facilitate efficient collaboration and can make sure everyone is on the same page. As they say, a picture is worth a 1000 words; a mood board can be that “picture,” conveying far more clear and consistent information than pages of writing or hours of conversation.
And being clear and consistent is exactly what your want for your business.