The Branding Process: Why a mood board is important to your business - Download your free template


So you’ve defined your “why” and your ideal client.

What next?

If you’re just getting started on building your brand, there are so many things that you are considering and working on all at once. You had a brilliant idea to take your side-project or hobby and turn it into a money making machine, but there are steps to take in order to get there. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to throw your goods and services out there on the internet and expect people to be knocking down your doors. It takes a lot of hard work, research, and trial and error.

Last week we took the time to define your why and lay the groundwork for a cohesive brand. This week, we’ll talk about how you can keep all of your brand visuals clean, cohesive, and all on the same page. In an age when consumers connect with brands on a deeper, dedicated level, you need to be sure you’re standing out and telling a story. Brands that can make those authentic, deeply rooted relationships with their buyers are more likely to be successful and see repeat business than those who have a scattered brand strategy.

Let me give you an example:

J and I are planning our next vacation and we’re looking into doing some camping. When I mentioned that we would need to get sleeping bags, J’s immediate response was, “What about Patagonia ones?” While Patagonia only just introduced sleeping bags to their lineup, my husband is a HUGE fan of their products, quality, and values, and feels it’s safe to assume—no reviews required—that this sleeping bag is the worth the price tag.

J and I both feel a deep connect with Patagonia because of the values that the company stands for—they’re champions for the environment, they work towards creating sustainable products, give back to communities, and they create a high quality product. These values are portrayed through their visual strategy and brand. And because of that, we feel loyal to that brand.

So whether you’re just starting out and hiring a brand designer isn’t high on your priority list, or you have a brand you love, but maybe struggle with the details, creating a mood board for your brand is important. A mood board will help keep your visuals consistent, keep you in tune with your ideal client and aesthetic, and… they’re just fun to make.

What is a mood board, you ask?

A mood board is a collection of images, patterns, type examples, and colors that inspire your brand. While I’m sure you have a secret Pinterest board full of “inspiration” photos pinned for your business, have you taken the time to really look at it and narrow down what you have saved?

As part of my client process, I give them the homework of creating a secret Pinterest board and invite them to go wild pinning everything that inspires them and feels speaks to who their ideal client is, to what their brand represents. Once we get started on their project, the first thing I do is create a mood board for them, using a template I created in Photoshop. I take all of the things that they pin and look for the things that keep repeating; I look for patterns, similarities, and vibes. I take those inspiration images and curate them into a beautiful, stick on the wall worthy, mood board.

  Mood board for Leighwood Paperie

Mood board for Leighwood Paperie

Okay, cool, so how do I use it?

I use mood boards to help as I design logos for clients in order to keep the same visual consistency throughout the designs and variations. I also, as part of my deliverable files, give my clients their mood board so that they can continue to make smart visual decisions in their business. What are some ways that you can use a mood board?

• Keep your Instagram content cohesive

• Helps in choosing colors and imagery for blog posts and other graphics

• Keeps you grounded in the personality of your brand

• Helps to lay a strong visual framework for your business

  Mood board for a client branding project

Mood board for a client branding project

Those are just a few of the ways that you can use a mood board. If you’re a product based business that changes collections seasonally, a mood board is a great way to gather and curate inspiration for seasonal collections. Even if you aren’t a business owner, creating mood boards for a new room decor project, or planning your wedding are all great ways to keep your visual inspiration together and aligned.

There are also many different ways to create mood boards. I love the idea of having a large blank white wall that I could cut or print inspiration out and tape it up, but unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of that space, and considering I create mood boards for all of my clients (even my stationery clients!), I would run out of room fast. Instead I use Photoshop to create my templates and boards. And I’m offering one of them to you today to download!

The template includes Smart Objects for you to place your images in, and easy to fill color bars. Inside the download, you’ll also receive brief directions for use, but after one time, I promise you’ll be a mood board making machine!

Have you used a mood board for your business?
How could help keep your brand’s visual story aligned?

Leighwood Paperie >> Download a free mood board template