What is a moodboard?
Up until about a month ago, I thought the term ‘moodboard’ was fairly well understood. That was until the peering eyes of my partner peeking over my shoulder sparked this question, asking how it related to the work I do.
“I don’t get it. Why do you do that?”
“Moodboards are pretty much my favourite part of the process,” I responded. Then I thought that really, they are wayyy more than just something I like doing. They are such an important way to share information.
Simply put - a moodboard is a collection of images that inspire and help visualise ideas. During the branding process, moodboards play a big part in creating a solid foundation to build from.
The very first part of our branding process has the client answer a series of questions, and from the responses, we go about gathering inspiration. This inspiration ties in with keywords they’ve divulged, or it might relate to the personality of their dream client … or perhaps, more simply, they just like a particular style and think it supports their brand.
We take these images, plonk them next to each other on a page and that’s it.
We carefully curate the selection of images - making sure that each one can independently tie back into the reasoning and purpose of the brand, upholding the brand’s values and intended direction. We’re looking at literal style [as in, texture / shape / an existing design] as well as images that attribute a vibe [as in, an image of hands that relate to a handmade product, or a flower petal that adds an element of delicacy and fragility]. We also want these images to sit well together, so there are considerations give to colour, balance, and content of the images [i.e., artwork vs a photo].
When presenting the moodboard to the client, we’re sharing ideas that are easily translated, reflecting the overall goal and visual style of the brand. We’re communicating the design direction in a way that is more specific and concrete than words alone, which is really helpful for those of us who find it hard to visualise or imagine.
From a higher level, a moodboard also helps inform the personality of the brand, creating clarity that both designer and client can comprehend similarly.
Here’s our latest moodboard for Georgie McKenzie Graphic Design.
You’ll notice that while we have design images in there (logos, typography, patterns), there are also textures and photos that help add to the higher-level personality of our brand - giving consideration to our ideal client, our values, and the way we wish to be perceived.
Moodboards are not only for working out brands though. They can help you narrow down ideas, such as decorating style for your home, comparing colour choices, fashion styles, holiday destinations — literally anything.
Why bother with a moodboard?
Moodboards helps bring your ideas to life — but really, they create a cohesion, a united vision of the path forward. I know that, personally, I can stumble over words and find it hard to get specific (and often think of the right thing to say once the moment has passed). So for me, each image that exists within a moodboard serves as a cue or marker to get across what I’m thinking and share information in a way that is bang on point to what is rattling around in my head.
Moodboards can be an evolution. It’s fine to look back at it months down the track and realise that something feels a bit off. If there's something on the moodboard that isn't quite right that can be a good thing - it tells you that it needs to change (and maybe your brand has evolved too).
Here’s a collection of moodboard from past projects we’ve worked on. A feast for your eyes!
How to create a moodboard
For those who aren't keen on Pinterest, make a real life one! Find pictures in magazines, on Instagram, on websites you like - and print 'em out! Get yourself a pin board (or at least, a big sheet of paper) and start cutting and arranging.
If you are 'into' Pinterest - make yourself a secret board and start pinning. We have a blog post dedicated to making a real-life moodboard.
If you're more advanced and using InDesign (or even Photoshop), download and bring your images into a clean, new doc and start playing around with placement and size. Hell, even Word will do!
You want the images to have some variety, but it’s also important for it to feel ‘right’ - in that you’re wanting the colours and styles to work together - this will help create that strong platform for you to build from.
Get to it.