Brand mood board: what it is, why you need it, how to build it.

Often used by brand designers, a mood board is a tool to define and communicate the essence of a brand. In a nutshell, a mood board comprises of a collage of images, text, font types, colours that represents the key elements of a brand.

However, in recent times, more and more often brand mood boards are also used by brand strategists to go beyond the brand’s visual identity and identify the essence of a brand and what the brands stands for.

Why do I need one?

Brand mood boards have various applications:

Visual identity: your logo, colours, imagery, texture, typography, and creative designs. Going through the exercise of researching and selecting what truly represents your brand will help you with the design of your logo, the selection of the right font type for your communication, and the creation of a visual story for your brand. Importantly, it will also help guide graphic designers when working for your brand to understand it and deliver designs that are fully on-brand.

Strategic Identity: brand mood boards are also essential in helping you define what your brand stands for: visually displaying the values and purpose of your brand, beyond the carefully crafted words of your brand positioning, can elevate the message your brand carries. And at times, it can bring interesting surprises!

Case study: I was recently working with a team of managers and I asked them to write down what their brand stands for. Only technical words and professional sentences were provided by all participants; if we had stopped at that we would have ended up with an almost soulless brand. But when I then asked them to visually represent that same brand, all of a sudden the true purpose of the brand came to life, well beyond the technical benefits that the company offers. Why? Because humans are visually-oriented: we understand and process images faster and better than words.

Brand alignment: Your brand is only as good as they way it is delivered. It’s easy enough to state what your brand stands for, but how do you ensure that when your audience interacts with your brand, they truly experience what you promised? Getting together your teams and asking them to create mood boards that represent what they perceive your brand to be will help bring to the surface and address misalignments to ensure that your brand will be truly delivered at any touch point.

How to I build one?

The are several steps that you should follow before starting to work on your brand mood board, from understanding your audience, to market analysis, to brand positioning. Once you have done that, you can choose between several approaches. You could go old-fashioned with a physical board made with images and text from magazines, or go digital using programs like Canva and Pinterest. You can also choose to use existing images or to take pictures yourself.

Personally, my preferred approach is the old fashion physical board but with a slight twist: I provide only a certain number of magazines for the clients to use. In my experience this encourages creative thinking and really helps participants to think about the meaning of the brand.

Importantly, unless you are a sole entrepreneur, I would strongly encourage you to work on your brand mood board with your team, as this can spark conversations about your brand and can really help distill your brand essence.

To help you set up a mood brand session (and keep my kids entertained while I try to work from home!) I created the following step by step guide. Enjoy!