Why we use moodboards in brand identity projects.

A detailed look at why we use moodboards for creative direction during the visual identity stage of the branding process.

Once we have completed the research and the brand strategy is established we move on to the visual elements.

Now it is time to begin work on how the brand looks and feels and we always use brand moodboards from the outset.

What is a Moodboard?

A moodboard is a concise collection of visual assets that are used to represent the brand’s visual identity. It normally contains examples of images, colours, typography, quotes, patterns and shapes that will make up a clear and succinct visual direction for a brand.

By placing all these items together on a single page, it is possible to define the broad appearance of the brand.

The use of a moodboard, ensures that everything created remains consistent, in line with the brands proposition and delivers the same message.

A mood board typically stems from the brand messaging and tone and the unique value proposition. From there, it will evolve into a style guide, giving the brand a visual base to work from when creating the brand identity. In turn, new marketing materials, promotional literature and products etc. will take visual cues from this established style.

Why have a moodboard?

Having a brand moodboard is like having your own unique design reference tool to which you can refer at any time that tells the visual story of your brand.

Using it helps you to create and maintain a consistent brand appearance. Moodboards are key to designing the visual aesthetic of your identity.

Whether you’re just launching your business or going through a rebranding process, creating a moodboard for your brand is an integral part of the process.

It will form the very foundation of the visual elements and this in turn should help to simplify design decisions and lead you towards a cohesive and consistent brand identity.

Why images are better than words

We find that words can – on occasion – be limiting and are open to confusion. We’ve experienced times when clients use words like cool, quirky, bold and premium to describe how they want their visual identity to appear.

But each of these words can be open to individual interpretation.

What one person thinks is cool, another may think looks corporate. One person’s premium and elegant is anothers traditional and boring.

It is easy to understand why some clients use different words while they mean something else when it comes to visual interpretation. Everybody thinks differently but by using imagery rather than just a list of words, it is possible to avoid the confusion.

By using moodboards or vision boards we can alleviate much of the miscommunication and in turn ensure that the creative direction is clear from the outset.

The Benefits of Moodboards

As brand identity experts, we find that the main benefits of using moodboards in the design process are:

  • A mood board helps bring visual elements into focus. Key components like company attributes, brand vision and identity are all based upon the emotions you want your brand to convey. The moodboard is a visual depiction of this.
  • They give both our clients and us as designers a clear, specific direction of where the design project is heading.
  • It allows for the brand’s design principles to be established and adhered to. This makes it simple for anyone to create materials in the future in line within the guidelines of the brand identity.
  • It reduces the opportunity for miscommunication which helps the project stay on track.
  • A mood board helps to build a library of elements in one particular style. This saves time on future activities. Rather than spending time deliberating over the look and feel of a certain piece of literature for example, the mood board guides the process which speeds up the process and facilitates getting your message out to your audience more quickly.
  • When your brand’s look and feel is clearly communicated across your team, it makes any decision that affects your brand’s image much more simple. You can rely on the mood board for inspiration and guidance.
  • Your mood board will ensure that all stakeholders and internal and external audiences understand your brand, your vision and your offering from the outset.
  • Once your strategic brand foundations are in place, a moodboard affirms and supports your brand identity. It will help you convert the intangible elements of your brand like tone, culture and values into tangible things, like design.

We find that brand boards are a great way to collate and manage the different components that are incorporated into the visual brand identity.

By showing how each element works together, it is possible to create and maintain a unique, strong and consistent brand appearance.

Carter Branding Founder Daniel James
Daniel James is the founder and creative lead at Carter Branding.
With over twenty years’ experience, he is equally at home working on branding and design projects for major international PLC’s as he is supporting ambitious businesses and innovative start ups.
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As an award-winning boutique branding  agency, we create brand identities for ambitious organisations.