In my opinion, moodboards are one of the most important steps in the identity design process. Not only are they super fun to share on social media for #moodboardmonday, but more importantly, they set the direction for your visual identity and give you a succinct representation of your brand to reference when you’re creating assets in the future.
I know it can be tempting to skip this step and jump right into the exciting parts like designing your logo or choosing fonts, but taking the time to do this now will save you time, energy, and money down the line when you don’t have to go round and round in circles to decide on the direction of your brand after realising you’re putting your brand together with no idea where it should be going.
So to help you define your vibe like a boss from the beginning, let’s take a look at curating a moodboard for your brand.
First, let’s quickly recap...
A moodboard is a succinct collection of visual assets that represents a brand’s visual identity. It can contain inspirational examples of photos, colours, typography, quotes, patterns, shapes and more that make up a cohesive direction for a brand that can be displayed and understood on one page.
Moodboards can provide inspiration for specific parts of your brand, but also for the entire brand. You should be able to look at each piece individually as its own inspiration for certain elements of your brand, and then the moodboard as a whole for the overall direction. For example, your moodboard will represent the overall vibe of your visual identity, but within the moodboard you will have inspiration for fonts you might look for, your brand photography, or a colour palette you might use.
A moodboard is no use if it only shows one thing over and over again. Instead of filling your moodboard with logos for example, think about the other parts of your brand and try to represent as many of them as needed at least once. The more variety the better, as you’ll be able to see the direction of the whole brand and how it could be applied to a range of touchpoints in the future.
A moodboard isn’t a rule book for what you make going forward. For example, just because you include some typographic inspiration that happens to be a piece of branded signage, doesn’t mean that you have to have a sign or that it has to be done exactly like that. All that it means is that you’re inspired by that typography and that it feeds into the overall visual direction. The same goes for anything else you might include. Be wary of plagiarism, and of feeling trapped by the moodboard. It’s just an indication of ideas and a way to define your vibe, not an exact representation of what you will create.
If you’re anything like me, you might be tempted to start a new Pinterest board and fill it with everything and everything that you love, ending up with hundreds of unorganised pins that make you feel good, but aren’t actually useful. Definitely fun, but not so fruitful unfortunately! Less is more when it comes to a moodboard and it will only be as strong as the weakest piece. Moodboards that I’ve created have included between 5–15 images and that’s it. Any more than that and you’ll be confused, overwhelmed, and your direction will lack focus. Keep it simple and you’ll have a strong moodboard with a clear visual direction.
Okay, so to the practical stuff – what can you actually include in your moodboard? Here are some ideas to get you started (PS. I’ve linked to a Pinterest board for each of these so that you can find some material for your moodboard in the process!):
You don’t need to include each of these, it’s just a list to get you started. Don’t feel like you have to be literal either – you don’t need to have a book or a magazine to include editorial design, or be an artist to include sculptures or paintings. Whatever inspires you and helps to convey the overall vibe of your brand is good to go!
Whatever inspiration you include in your moodboard should cover ideas for at least these following things, whether on their own or within other images:
If you have these covered in your moodboard, you’ll have a great place to start with when it comes to creating your brand.
Okay, now you know what a moodboard is all about, what it should do, what goes into a moodboard and what it should cover, but how you actually make one?
All you need to do is start with the Pinterest boards I linked above, or head to any of your other favourite places for finding inspiration, and begin to gather them together. Put them all into something like Milanote (or you can use Canva, Adobe Illustrator, Figma, Notion, or whatever system you prefer to use) and start editing them down to about 10 images. Then you can eventually narrow it all down to one concise, cohesive moodboard!