How to use mood boards as visual communication tools
What is a mood board and why do I need one?
Mood boards are visually beautiful collections of images, textures, colours and text that combine to present an idea or a certain feeling, hence the name mood board. Often words simply can’t do justice to an idea, so designers turn to imagery to paint a better picture of what they are visualising. Mood boards are great at helping you define the direction of your project.
Creating a mood board can be both inspiring and massively empowering. Even if you’re not a designer, the process of looking through ideas and collecting imagery that speaks to you will be motivating and fun!
“Words fail miserably when trying to translate design concepts.”
So whether you’re launching a new project, about to embark on a rebrand, or pitching to clients, a mood board is a great place to start. It is also handy to use a mood board when you have multiple team members working on a project to make sure everyone’s on the same page visually before you get too far down the line. What one person calls “fresh” another might see as boring.
Mood boards are used by creatives, clients, and teams in many industries, such as branding, film and music, marketing and social media, event planning and fashion. They are particularly useful for these creative stages:
- Inspiration: At the start of a project or when trying to decide on your brand identity, a mood board will help guide your style and vision.
- Affirmation: Once you’re sure of your style, a finalised mood board will help support your brand identity. It will also help you translate concepts such as culture and value into design principles.
- Pitching: By creating a mood board when pitching an idea to a client, you can illustrate what the finished product will look like and help avoid any misunderstandings down the track.
- Communication: A mood board can ensure any external contractors producing content or marketing materials for you will be able to understand your identity and vision from the start.
Interested? Get started on your very own mood board now >>
When is the best time to use a mood board?
Using mood boards early on in the project can help:
- Create a common visual language
- Translate ideas and concepts that can be difficult to explain only with words
- Cut down on time spent revising work due to misunderstandings or miscommunication
When the team at Foursquare redesigned their app, they started with a mood board to align everyone’s preferences for the look and feel of the app. Sam Brown, one of the Foursquare designers, explained their process in a Medium piece where he wrote:
“The initial version of our style guide was a lofty mood board, it talked about how we wanted the app to feel:“intelligent, relevant and useful”, “magical and fun”, “trustworthy and highly-regarded.” It showed some fun directional color schemes as well as laid out much of the groundwork for our overall information architecture and navigation.”
4 easy steps to mood boarding
- SEARCH: Magazine, sketches, quotes, your own photos, the view outside your window–you can use just about anything as inspiration in your mood boards. Just because something is from a different area than your work doesn’t mean you can’t use it to help establish the style of your project. Anything that takes your fancy, add it!
- REFINE: Once you’ve added enough content, you can refine your mood board and design direction. A mood board is meant to be a space where you and whoever else has a stake in the project can get what’s in your heads on paper, in a creative space.
- PRETTY IT UP: Before presenting your board, it’s a good idea to arrange your mood board in a beautiful layout and pull out certain colours that you want to highlight. Then make sure there’s nothing in there that doesn’t quite fit.
- PRESENT: Once you’ve finished your mood board, you can either invite others to view it by sending them a link. Or alternatively print it out and stick it in your office, or save it as a PDF document as part of your brand identity.
How does a beautiful mood board look like?
Let’s look at some examples of stunning mood boards that really capture an idea.
Firstly, here is beautiful mood board for the brand redesign of a specialty jam. Designer Celia pulled examples from multiple sources to help communicate the initial concept ideas “freshness” and “not forgetting traditional values.”
The team at Helium Creative put together an inspiration mood board based solely on angles.
Online or Offline?
The process of creating your mood board doesn’t have to be complicated, and should be a fun exercise! While you can always grab some magazines and cut and paste images onto a physical board. But you’ll be saving yourself a bunch of time and have access to infinitely more inspiration by using an online mood boarding tool.
Ready to get started?
If you’re ready to get your creative juices flowing, get started immediately by clicking here to create a new board.
Then you can load up images by dragging and dropping, or uploading them from your computer files.
Here are some extra tips for getting your mood boards created quickly in Conceptboard:
- Drag and drop images from the web and desktop
- Grab screenshots using the keyboard shortcuts or the new screenshot extension
- Use the slice and crop controls to clean up images
- Use the grid and alignment tools to quickly create grids
- Add sticky notes or comments to help explain what you like
- Collapse finished comment threads to keep content organized
We’re pretty sure you’ll love the process of creating a mood board so much, you’ll be looking forward to creating one for all your future projects!
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