Productivity Updated on: 5 April 2019

How to use mood boards as visual communication tools

Conceptboard Mood board example with real time live remote collaboration

What is a mood board?

A mood board is typically a physical or online board that combines images, colors, and textures to define the style of a project and serve as inspiration. It can also be used as a visual communication tool to get your thoughts and ideas across to others, getting everyone on the same page.

Mood boards are used by creatives, clients, and teams in many industries and disciplines, though most often they are used in:

  • Marketing
  • Fashion
  • Interface design
  • Web design
  • Branding and Advertising
  • Film & Music
  • Storyboarding
  • Interior Decorating
  • Event planning

Creating a mood board to present to clients or your team allows everyone involved to agree on a direction before too much work is done. Two people may use the same word, for example “clean” or “vibrant” but they may mean something completely different to each person.

A visual can help everyone get on the same page.

Let’s take a look at some tips on how get the most out of the mood boarding process!

Draw inspiration for your mood boards from anywhere

Magazine, sketches, 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.

For the brand redesign of a specialty food product, Celia pulled examples from multiple sources to help communicate the initial concept ideas: “freshness” and “not forgetting traditional values.”

Graphic Design Moodboard Example
A graphic design mood board example courtesy of Celia.

The best time to make a mood board is early in the project

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 Foursquare moodboard example.
Foursquare mood board example.

The initial version of our style guide was a lofty moodboard, 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.



Create a mood board around a single idea

If you already have a strong idea before the start of your project, it helps to create a few mood boards that pull together research with a single focus. The team at Helium Creative put together an inspiration mood board based solely on angles.

Mood board concept example
Mood  board example courtesy of Helium Creative.

Create mood boards exploring the relationship between ideas

Visual communication can be complex. Exploring the connections between ideas visually can be a great way to find new connections and help hone your message.

At the beginning stages of a mood board, include anything and everything that you like. You can refine your mood board and design direction after you’ve added enough content. 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 out on paper, without judgment.

Tomas Moyano‘s project started with the creation of a mood board that analyzed current international design trends.

mood board grid example
Mood board examples courtesy of Tomas Moyano.

Once the style direction was determined, a second mood board was created to explore and condense 2 main design directions: “The beautiful architecture of Prague, and the magic and mystery which the city express, not only in the present, but also in the days of yore.”

mood board example
Mood board examples courtesy of Tomas Moyano.

Create online mood boards to take advantage of collaboration capabilities

Conceptboard makes it easy for marketers and designers to turn their mood boards into meaningful, visual experiences to be shared with clients and colleagues. The online boards foster collaboration by allowing discussions to happen right on top of the content being discussed.

Conceptboard Online Mood Board Realtime Collaboration

Here are some tips for getting your mood boards created quickly in Conceptboard:

Mood boards are very versatile communication tools. If you’ve never tried creating one as part of your process, give it a go for your next project!


One thought on “How to use mood boards as visual communication tools

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *