Remember those panels made from cork or any other material we used in our adolescent years to compile pics we would cut from magazines, pieces of fabric and whatever else we thought pretty and loved to watch? That was our way of getting inspiration back then. Now we have grown more sophisticated, and so have they. The more complex version of those panels are mood boards. And the best thing about them is they can be digital.
By definition, a mood board is a collage of images, text, patterns and textures. I would say they are the abbreviated version of a brand book. They are the visual representations of the style someone intends to adopt. That’s why you should have one before launching your brand, not after. It’s easier to create a guide and follow it rather than use 10 styles and try to make things coherent afterwards. Been there, done that. It’s no walk in the park, trust me on this one.
Mood boards are channels of communication with your audience and the means of expressing yourself and your feelings. They are a white canvas you fill with your imagination’s touches. They are like the wrapping paper that embellish a present, so they should be paid a good deal of attention and effort.
Why you need a mood board
Well, let’s just say your mood board is the business card you show to people who can’t meet you in person and realize how awesome you are. Every brand needs coherent visuals, and the mood board covers exactly that aspect. It is the first step to creating the brand, and you can work on it as much as you can, you can play around until you get the exact results you’re looking for.
As someone who’s had hours of work deflated by a simple “It’s … good, but not quite how I imagined”, I have understood that communication with the client is everything. A mood board allows the client to offer their input, and it helps identify and express their vision the right way, without the headache of having your work rejected straight away for silly reasons like “I hate red.” The most difficult thing in the world when it comes to creating for others is to lose yourself and become their ghost. It’s not about what we would use or say, it’s all about authentically impersonating the client.
Aesthetics is the key to conquering a world that mostly lives (and buys) based on imagery. While mood boards establish general guidelines, they are not supposed to be followed in detail. Their versatility makes it easier to make changes and to collaborate with others. They can be used across any medium and device, and that in itself is a great feature.
Practically one creates a digital library of images, patterns, fonts and textures which can be used by everyone working on the design of a brand not only at the moment, but also in the future. They are extremely useful when it comes to creating the brand book, the website, the printed materials and all other elements you can think of. Business owners give them little importance, but us designers know how much hard work goes into them.