We do a lot of technical work here at Designsensory, but even the most logical, tangible part of what we do is driven by something completely intangible: emotion. Branding is all about emotion. It’s all about the pursuit of that magical, sometimes elusive gut feeling you get when the right words pair with the perfect image on an optimal platform.
Before we ever get to that end goal, there is a mountain of work revolving around emotion. What feeling are we going for? How do we evoke that? How do we communicate it to the client, other designers collaborating on the project and, ultimately, to the wider audience bearing witness to the final product?
Enter: the mood board. It’s a visual representation of the stylistic direction for the project. It allows both clients and designers to weigh in with a quicker, deeper understanding than words alone can bring. This organized collage of images, colors, fonts and phrases saves time in both production and explanation, and allows for easy initial feedback on what does and doesn’t work.
Mood boards bring about a meeting of the minds among clients, designers and internal project collaborators. Mood boards are not about rendering something specific, but about gathering consensus on direction.
How is it used?
Client-facing and internal mood boards serve the same purpose: they get us all on the same page. We use mood boards early, as a colorful invitation, but we can introduce them later to direct a new aspect of the project or narrow our focus.
Mood boards work intuitively and quickly, so they allow us to present several stylistic directions to the client. We often create something safe for the brand, but we include something that might be uncharted territory as well. In this way, mood boards allow us to showcase our range of creativity, and sometimes the client might surprise us by loving the unconventional direction.
The mood board is helpful for branding options, too. For example, in creating the flex branding system for Roane Alliance, we created a mood board with examples from other companies for the branding system we envisioned. The mood board brought texture to how the interconnected logos could be used, and helped the client choose the final branding system.
Mood Board = Springboard.
Because mood boards are heavily built on imagery, they convey more in few moments of presentation than an entire written or spoken presentation. Cartoon imagery might convey a playful or even edgy tone, while saturated photographs draw in the viewer. These things do more than inspire the client to choose a branding direction; they provide a working guide for the design and content team. The mood board becomes the springboard for the design process.
Mood boards help us cross the finish line, too. Even when we present the final product to the client, we reference the mood board. It’s the common thread in our communication, showing how the spark of an idea transforms into a full-on presentation.