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.
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
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:
Now, let’s get to the good stuff—how to actually create a mood board that defines your brand.
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.
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:
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
Curious as to what a finished branding mood board looks like? Let’s take a look at a few branding mood boards in action:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.