Let’s interact.

312.222.2500 Symmetri Marketing Group, LLC
40 E Huron Street, Suite 7D
Chicago, Illinois60611  


Why Your Brand Needs a Mood Board

Mood boards are the widely used, little understood tool of the branding process. You or your clients might have your research, personas, values and mission statements and think you’re ready to start creating logos, building websites and going full force to market. But not so fast. Overlooking the mood board is a critical misstep, and even though you might be ready to go, a mood board is the essential first step in bringing everything together to help clients realize their vision in something tangible.

What is a Mood Board?

Mood boards exist to help us align on a direction for design. They are a collection of borrowed design elements (fonts, color palettes, photo and icon styles, web UI screen grabs) that establish a preliminary look and feel. Each mood board should evoke a different feeling and personality, capturing one or more of the brand values. There is no right or wrong direction in picking one.

Types of Mood Boards

When it comes to branding, there are two principal mood boards: brand and web. Brand mood boards set the course for the entire brand experience. Web mood boards are more focused on a website’s UI elements. Brand mood boards define the look and feel of the company. Web mood boards reflect how people should feel when they visit a website. They are like brand mood boards, but they include more website elements such as buttons, screenshots, and image treatments.

What Makes a Good Mood Board?

A mood board can have multiple different elements, but there are some guidelines you can use to ensure your mood board hits the target:

  • Balance: too much imagery is overwhelming, too little won’t provide direction
  • Target: whether it’s the marketing team or the C suite, keep the audience in mind
  • Visuals: colors, artwork, images, fonts — anything that conveys
  • Consistency: stay focused

Even though it might seem like it, building a strong, unique brand doesn’t just happen overnight. Mood boards are a great way to temperature check what the client actually wants. Up to this point, it’s all very abstract. This is the first step in creating a vision and direction for a brand.

Mood boards inform brand guidelines and are an efficient way to get stakeholder buy-in without spending hours of design time. They help to refine the client’s visions and goals and can serve as the foundation for the guidelines that will serve as the source of truth.

Tip: We usually present two mood boards to a client. They are intentionally different with some focusing more on an evolution of the current brand where the other might be more of a revolution. This helps clients determine if they are still wedded to their current brand or looking for something more radical.

Creates Intention

Instead of spending time deliberating over the type of look a certain print ad should have, the mood board helps to guide the process, getting your message to market faster. Before any direction is finalized, the mood board organizes and presents options.

Provides Direction

Individual elements on a mood board are not to be taken super literally as a conclusive design decision, but they should be looked at holistically for the feeling and "vibe" they are giving off — personality and emotion are a big part of their purpose. Mood boards are an avenue to go down, not an exact address. They can be refined and elaborated on in print and digital marketing collateral. They can be a source of inspiration and reference when putting together and finalizing the brand guidelines.