How to build your brand with a mood board

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There is so much that goes into building a brand. You need to decide who you are, what you’re about, and what kind of message you want to send to your audience—and then you need to figure out how to communicate all of those things in a visual way.

Building the visual side of your brand can feel overwhelming when you’re starting from scratch. But one of the best ways to organize all of your ideas, nail all your design elements, and create a comprehensive visual story for your brand? A mood board.

Mood boards are an indispensable tool for building your brand. But what, exactly, is a mood board? What elements do you need to include in your board? And, most importantly, how can you use a branding mood board to inspire your team (and yourself) and build an impactful brand from the ground up? These are all the points we will discuss below.

What is a branding mood board?

branding mood board

Photo by Andy Art on Unsplash

Before we jump into how to build your brand with a mood board, let’s quickly cover what, exactly, a branding mood board is.

A branding mood board is a collection of visual assets—whether that’s colors, images, text, photos, or any other kind of visual inspiration—that encompasses who you are as a brand and what kind of brand message you want to put out into the world.

When it comes to building a branding mood board, you can kick it old-school and make a physical collage. Or you can go digital and create a mood board using online tools like Pinterest (where you can scour the internet for inspiring visuals and organize them into boards) and Canva (where you can pull your best branding visuals and assemble them into a single, powerful mood board).

The purpose of this whole mood board exercise? When people—whether that’s your team, your customers, colleagues, or clients—look at your branding mood board, they should get the general “vibe” of your brand and it makes them feel something

A well-thought-out mood board is every new brand’s secret weapon. Get started building your brand with Canva’s mood board templates, like the Green Nature Mood Board Photo Collage or the Yellow Minimal Mood Board Photo Collage.

Why is a branding mood board important?

branding mood board

Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

So, now that you know what a branding mood board is, let’s talk about why it’s important.

Branding mood boards are a key branding tool because they can:

  • Act as a source of inspiration. If you get stuck during the branding process (which, spoiler alert, you probably will), a branding mood board can give you the inspiration you need to reignite your creative spark and move forward with building your brand.
  • Help get your entire team on the same page. Whether you have an in-house team or you hire freelancers, you’re going to need help building your brand. Having a branding mood board helps to get everyone on board with your brand vision, which makes for a cohesive brand experience.
  • Help drive brand-related design projects. There are a lot of decisions to make when you’re building a brand from the ground up, from which website layout is the best fit for your audience to what elements to incorporate into your logo. Having a branding mood board can help drive those decisions—and make sure your final designs are in line with your ultimate brand direction.
  • Tell a visual story about your brand. Sometimes, you don’t want to tell people what your brand is about; you want to show them. A branding mood board is the best way to do it.

Mood boards are an important element of any effective branding strategy. Get started with one of Canva’s mood board templates, like the Simple Pastel Grid Photo Mood Board or the Minimalist Mood Board Photo Collage.

How to build your brand with a branding mood board

Now, let’s get to the good stuff—how to actually create a mood board that defines your brand.

Define your audience

One of the most important parts of building an impactful brand is knowing your audience. So, in order to design a branding mood board that’s going to drive a successful brand, it’s important to define that audience.

Before you start choosing elements for your branding mood board, think about who your brand is going to target—and then use that audience to drive your decisions about what to include.

So, for example, a mood board for a brand that’s targeting parents of small children is going to look completely different from a mood board for a brand that’s targeting rugged outdoor types.

The point is, your audience is going to determine the success of your brand, so before you start designing, make sure you get clear on who you’re designing for.

What to include in your branding mood board

branding mood board

Photo by Björn Antonissen on Unsplash

Once you’ve defined your audience, it’s time to start designing your branding mood board. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating an impactful mood board, there are a few design elements you’ll want to consider including:

Color

branding mood board

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Your color palette is one of your strongest branding elements. The colors you choose send a clear message about who you are as a brand and can dictate the way the rest of your brand elements (like your logo design and website) are received by your audience. So, when you’re choosing design elements to include on your mood board, color is a great place to start.

Think about the messaging you’re trying to create with your brand, and then choose a color palette that reflects that message. Are you going for a laid-back, beachy feel? Then pale blues and greens would make sense. Are you building a brand for kids and want to appear vibrant and fun? Then, bright primary colors are the way to go.

Whatever color palette you choose, make sure to include swatches in your branding mood board.

Photos/Images

branding mood board

Photo by Sarandy Westfall on Unsplash

The famous saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is especially true in branding. This is why you want to find imagery that tells your brand story and include it on your branding mood board.

Look for photographs, illustrations, and other imagery that you feel is in line with your branding. So, for example, if you’re building an edgy fashion brand, you might include vintage black and white photos from the punk rock era. If you’re launching an all-natural juice brand for toddlers, you might include a fun illustration of fruits and vegetables. You can even take it a step further and use your own imagery (so, for example, if your brand is inspired by your children, you can include one of your favorite snapshots).

Textures

branding mood board

Photo by Andrew Ridley on Unsplash

Texture can add visual interest to your mood board too. Look for different textures that speak to either the kind of brand you’re launching (like lace for a lingerie brand) or the kind of vibe you’re trying to create with your brand (like macrame for a boho-inspired brand).

Patterns

branding mood board

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Similar to textures, patterns can give key insights into your brand. If you find a pattern that speaks to who you are as a brand (like a loud polka dot pattern or a more subtle stripe), make sure to include it.

Text

branding mood board

Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

Branding mood boards tell a visual story. But that doesn’t mean there’s no place for text! Including typographic elements, like inspiring fonts or words/quotes that speak to your brand, is a great way to strengthen the visuals on your branding mood board and make sure the message speaks loud and clear.

Anything else you find visually inspiring!

It’s your branding mood board—so you should include anything you find that you feel is a visual representation of your brand. Get creative! Shapes, newspaper clippings, flowers—when it comes to telling the visual story of your brand, the sky’s the limit.

The most effective branding mood boards are the ones that pull in a variety of visual elements, like color, photos, and typography. Pull in all if your brand’s key visual elements with Canva’s mood board templates, like the Turquoise and White Mood Board Photo Collage, the Gold Peach Brown Mood Board Photo Collage, or the Pastel Fashion Photo Grid Mood Board Photo Collage.

Branding mood boards in action

Curious as to what a finished branding mood board looks like? Let’s take a look at a few branding mood boards in action:

Athletic wear branding mood board

branding mood board

Image via 99designs designer Nil5 Design

This branding mood board pulls in strong nature imagery (like waves and a mountain) and dark, gritty colors to create a strong, almost industrial feel—perfect for an edgy athletic wear brand.

Want to recreate the dark, gritty feel of this mood board? Try one of Canva’s mood board templates, like the Filtered Scenery Mood Board Photo Collage.

High-end branding mood board

Behance smile mood board

Image via Behance designer Saxon Campbell

This mood board design uses photos, pastels, and black-and-white imagery to create a high-end, sophisticated visual experience—which is a must for the brand, a luxury dentistry service.

Mixing photos with pops of color can create a sophisticated (and fun!) look in your mood board design. Get the look with one of the Canva’s mood board templates, like the Pastel Themed Plain Mood Board Photo Collage.

Beer branding mood board

dribbble Brooklyn Lager mood board

Moodboard Idea by Vivek Venkatraman via Dribble

This mood board designer used a deep red and orange color palette and fun, outdoor imagery create to recreate look and feel of summer—a perfect match for this brand’s line of summer-inspired beers.

Digging the red and orange color palette of this mood board design? Recreate the look for yourself with one of Canva’s colorful mood board templates, like the Rustic Mood Board Photo Collage.

Tips for a successful branding mood board design

Looking for a few more tips for designing an effective mood board? When you’re building your branding mood board, make sure to keep these in mind:

  • Don’t be too cluttered. You want to include plenty of inspiration—but too much imagery can be visually overwhelming. Instead, reserve your mood board space for the visuals that are going to pack the most impactful punch.
  • Variety is the spice of a branding mood board. You don’t want to include too much imagery, but you also don’t want to include too much of the same imagery. Pull inspiration for your branding mood board from multiple sources and make sure plenty of types of imagery (like photos, typography, and color palettes) are represented on your final board.
  • Your branding mood board is going to be a springboard for branding decisions. Your mood board should be designed in a way that makes it easy to understand what you’re going for with your branding; that way, as you’re building your brand, you can use it as a guidepost for driving brand design decisions.

Want to learn more about mood boards? Check out our articles on Learn: Why a mood board can do more than just inspire you and How to create a mood board and get your creative juices flowing.

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