Creating Brand Moodboards

photo by Beckley Co.

photo by Beckley Co.

It is up to you to see the beauty in everyday things.

Whenever I receive a new design inquiry, my first step is to ask to see the Pinterest board. I think you can tell so much about a person’s dream life by seeing what inspires them. Take a look at anyone’s Pinterest feed and you’ll see what makes up their idea of a perfect life. Back in the day, I used to make a Pinterest board for just about everything. And before that, I’d fill up scrapbooks with images I’d cut from books and magazines. Collaging always has, and always will be, the easiest way for me to tap into my imagination and organize my thoughts.

And it’s not just a creative exercise.

As a business owner, creating a mood board is a form of planning. If you start a project without research, then you are doing a disservice to yourself and your customer. And you better believe visual research is just as important as your project plan. Visual mood boards set the tone of a project. It also helps you align on where you’re going and stay on track when your imagination runs wild.

Purpose of a Mood Board

A mood board serves as a visual glance at your brand aesthetic. It will allow you to create brand consistency after your launch. You’ll want to align each of your projects, services, and pieces of marketing content to your overall brand style.

If you’re not sure about your brand style, a mood board can serve as a creative exercise to find patterns in your inspiration. The first pattern you’ll see is color, which can quickly turn into a brand or project palette. You may also find patterns, illustrations, fonts, or layouts that continue to pique your interest. A mood board will allow you to organize that inspiration into a cohesive visual unit.

Reasons to Make a Mood Board

You don’t have to stop creating mood boards after you complete your branding project. I like to make a new mood board for each new product or service. I find it especially helpful when brainstorming digital product or course ideas. I even made a mood board when brainstorming for this blog and our weekly Brand Therapy email!

Creating a mood board when you have a new idea may also help you decide whether or not to add to your existing brand or branch out to create a new business.

Step One - Research

Amount of time: 1-2 days / Amount of images: 75 - 100

Begin your mood board creation process by searching for the inspiring images. If you’re creating a tangible mood board, I suggest grabbing a pair of scissors and spending an afternoon looking through magazines. However, you may not have the time or desire to spend the afternoon collaging. If that’s the case, digital mood boards are a great reference point. I love to search for images on…


• Dribbble



Instagram (by taking screenshots!)

** You’ll see I’ve even gone old school and gathered inspiration on Tumblr!

Look for:





Don’t forget:

Lifestyle: this is a great way to capture the essence of your idea through photography

Ideal customer/client: gathering references of your ideal client will help you formulate a personality around the demographic

Workspace: go ahead and find imagery to represent the atmosphere for where your idea will live

Step Two - Store

Amount of time: 1 day / Amount of images: 30 - 50

Once you’ve found a large amount of inspiring imagery, store those images on a Pinterest board, desktop folder, or Dropbox. This is a great time to begin editing down your selections to your very favorite imagery, eliminating half of your inspiration. This part can be hard, but the goal it to find the absolute best representation for the direction you want to take your new idea.

• Pinterest

• Desktop Folder

• Google Drive / Dropbox

Step Three - Assemble

Amount of time: 1 day / Amount of images: 5-8

The next step is to choose your top images from this paired down folder and begin creating a visual board. There are some great template options for making a mood board that I’ve linked to below. Once you’ve finished your mood board, I’d print it out, save it on your desktop, frame it, and pass it along to your team. This will be your visual guiding light as you begin taking actions to execute your idea.

• Creative Market - one / two / three / four / five

• Canva - one / two / three / four

• Venngage - one / two / three

What to do if you have competing styles:

You may realize that you’ve edited down your saved images and they’re falling into two categories of style. If you can’t decide between 5-8 of the strongest images, create multiple mood boards! Seeing each style side by side may be just the thing you need to make a final decision.

Step Four - Credit

If you plan to just use your mood board internally for your project, don’t worry about this step. The mood board is NOT a way to copy others’ design or replicate others’ work. It’s a visual guide to create your own original content. However, if you plan to share your mood board online, it’s nice courtesy to credit the image’s original source. We all spend so much time creating original work that it’s nice to get a shoutout for it online, especially when it’s inspired someone else to create something of their own!

Once you’ve made your mood board, you may be wondering what’s next for your brand.

Download our free Brand Scratch Pad!

BrandKadie SmithComment