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What is a mood board and how does it help branding?

Learn how mood boards can help create a consistent and powerful visual identity for your organization's next branding effort.

When you're developing a brand, it's important to have a clear idea of the overall look that you want to achieve. Is your brand’s tone bright or muted, bold or soft, playful or classic, or somewhere in between? A mood board is a visual tool that helps explore the visual feel of the brand. It can include colors, fonts, graphic styles, patterns, and imagery. When placed together, they create something that gives the viewer an idea of the brand’s essence.

Mood boards are sometimes created early in the brand design process. It’s used to help inspire the logo design and efforts that follow.

At MOD-Lab, we like to create a mood board after a logo design direction is selected. This article shares more about our process, examples, and the value of a mood board.

The Brand Design Process

We offer small and medium sized branding efforts and leave the deep dives to larger brand partners. We start with a little bit of thoughtful research. Conversations with our client partners and stakeholders help us define goals, audience, and needs. Then we begin our logo sketches and, over a number of presentations and feedback exchanges, we hone in on a chosen design direction.

This is when our mood board work kicks in.

The design of the mood board is our initial test of how the brand comes to life through color, fonts, imagery, and design elements. The mood board informs the brand style guide and serves to inspire the activation of the brand to all sorts of design assets and projects that follow.

Reel Works mood board

The Reel Works mood board includes photography, type, and patterns that build upon the logo mark and type. It also explores how to bring student imagery in as a main visual element of the brand.

Bringing the Brand to Life

With a chosen logo design ready, a mood board enables us to begin to play with and apply that logo design to other parts of the visual brand.

A great logo inspires creativity. Its shape and colors can lead to design opportunities. Its meaning can inspire the tone of the visuals.

A well done logo is a visual tool that can help tell the story of the organization. Its elements should be reflective of the orgs mission. With this, you have a strong foundation to inspire the brand visuals.

We explore photos, type, and colors that go with the logo. We then apply them to different design scenarios to help explore how best to bring the brand to life.

A mood board, at this point in a brand design process, has the following goals.

  1. To help the brand design team explore the visual brand in different circumstances.
  2. To excite and engage client partners in the process. To elicit critical feedback from them early and use it to refine the visual brand.
Coast Guard Foundation mood board

Mood board for the Coast Guard Foundation’s recent rebranding. Explores use of imagery, type, and the new logo in different ways that showcase design flexibility alongside polished and consistent expression.

Science Literacy Foundation mood board

Science Literacy Foundation’s mood board plays with the shape of the logo mark as design elements in different contexts. The board highlights the color pallet and application of the logo to a business card design.

The Value of Mood Boards in the Branding Process

Regardless of when a mood board is created, it offers significant value to organizations.

  1. Provides a Clear Vision: A mood board helps to establish a clear vision for the brand's look and feel. It guides subsequent design decisions and ensures that everyone involved in the process is working towards the same goal.
  2. Offers Inspiration: A mood board inspires new ideas and approaches that may not have been considered otherwise. By gathering together a wide range of visual elements, stakeholders may discover unexpected combinations or new ways of representing the brand that they hadn't previously considered.
  3. Facilitates Collaboration: During the design process it gives stakeholders something rich to react to. Once completed, it help ensure that everyone involved in the process is on the same page.
  4. Creates a Consistent Visual Identity: A mood board helps establish a consistent visual identity for the brand.
  5. Streamlines the Design Process: By establishing a clear visual direction from the outset, it helps streamline the design process for future projects.

Mood Boards and Your Organization

Whether you are learning about brand design or seeking a partner for your organizations next look, keep a mood board in mind. We have found it to be a valuable resource in our branding process. It engages our client partner to share their best feedback. This builds trust and facilitates better collaboration. As a finished product, it's a great resource to support a consistent brand expression in future projects.

If you have any questions about mood boards or our brand services, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Minds On Design Lab is a strategic design studio with digital expertise. We're passionate about elevating small and mighty teams in the social sector. We connect people to mission through beautifully designed branding, web, and print.