Sometimes our clients know what they want, but they just can’t put it into words. That’s where a mood board comes in. A mood board shows the desired look and feel for your brand or design project. This is a sure fire way to make sure you and your client are on the same page before moving on in the design process!
Creating a mood board is the second major step in my brand design process right after a strategy call and before designing any logo drafts. Having a mood board designed helps me get in the right headspace for creating the client’s logo and ensures that myself and the client are on the same page.
Here’s my step by step process for creating a mood board, plus there’s a free mood board template for Adobe Illustrator that you can download!
Here’s How to Create Your Mood Board:
1. Shared Pinterest Inspiration Board
Before I start any project with a client, they complete various “homework” items. And my past clients will tell you this is not some boring chemistry homework, this is FUN. I get my clients to dive into the heart and soul behind their business to prove me with the resources I need to design their brand or website, but also to get them in the headspace to think about their dream clients and how to serve them well with new designs. One of their homework pieces is a shared Pinterest board. For each client, I create a secret Pinterest board and ask the client to pin images that express who their brand is.
They pin things that answer questions like:
- If my brand were a room, what would it look like?
- If my brand were a place, where would it be?
- What does my ideal client look like?
- What colors express who my business is?
The Pinterest board isn’t just for my clients, I also pin plenty of images myself, usually after they have gotten started. A lot of designers stop here, but does a board filled with over 80 images really help you with anything? Probably not. You need to take all those images that your client choose and whittle them down to the ones that express their brand best. That’s where a mood board comes in.
2. Create the Mood Board
Choose anywhere from 8 - 15 images from your Pinterest board to add to a mood board. Enter your name and email address below to download your free Adobe Illustrator mood board template! This template has spots for 10 images, 2 of which are smaller circles. It also has a spot to add your client’s name and list 4-6 words that describe the brand.
To use this document, follow the directions below:
- Open file in Adobe Illustrator once it has been emailed to you
- Save photos from Pinterest that you’d like to use in mood board
- Drag those images into Illustrator and size them smaller
- Select all the images, click object > arrange > send to back (now all your images are behind the shapes in the file)
- Drag an image over to the shape you want to place it in, size it
- Select both the shape and the image, click object > clipping mask > make (or command 7 for a shortcut)
- Repeat this process until your board is filled!
- Add your client’s name and descriptive brand words
3. Send to Client for Approval
This is where the mood board is GOLD. Before you design anything, you can make sure that you and the client are on the same page for the brand goals. Sometimes when I have a client whose unsure about the vibe they want for their brand, I will present 2 mood boards to them at once to let them pick. This clears up confusion right away! Once the mood board is good to go, it’s time to start designing your logos!
This week I had a client tell me this about her mood board:
“I LOVE the mood board so much - it feels SO me and aligned with my life and vision... I feel like you've really stepped inside my head and have captured it more than I could. Thank you!”
That is the goal!
A Little Advice:
Shy away from using other logos on your mood boards.
This mood board will be a reference point for you while you develop this brand. Having another designer’s work on the board, might not be effective for really getting in your creative zone. Instead, focus on images and instead of logos, utilize typography that shows the style you’re going for!
Put on some “mood music” too.
Just like you can have a mood board to influence your design process, you can also use music to inspire you while you work. I have found this REALLY helps me connect with the business I’m designing for! For example, while I was designing the brand for my client Oh Crumbs Bakery, I listened to a lot of Frank Sinatra. His music inspired me to get into the mood of classic, timeless, and romantic.
So, there you have it! I hope this template and strategy are so helpful to you in your brand creation process!