How to create a moodboard for your new brand identity

A step-by-step guide on how to create a moodboard as you prepare to design a new brand identity for your business.

When you’re creating a fresh new brand identity, moodboards are a fantastic way to establish the style and theme of your design before getting too deep into the gritty details. It gives you a chance to explore ideas and get an overall sense of how the aesthetic work with your business. There’s no right or wrong way to create a moodboard, but if you’d like some advice, here’s a step-by-step to explain how to create a moodboard and what you can include as you put your board together.

Related post: Why brand identity is important for your business

Start with your brand strategy

As tempting as it is to dive straight into visuals when it comes to branding, building a solid foundation has to come first. You want a well-developed sense of what your business is setting out to achieve, who its target market is, and the overarching feel and tone of your brand.

Knowing the personality of your brand is particularly helpful when it comes to choosing the style of your brand identity. It should complement the needs of your audience and have a tone that matches their expectations.

Brainstorm some themes and visual directions

Think of some possible ideas for themes to tie your design together. This could be anything from a particular colour or texture combination (a client of mine wanted to mix marble and gold for a luxury, high-end look), or imagery related to a certain idea (perhaps leafy, green growth relates to your brand strategy, or sleek architectural photography represents your business well).

It doesn’t have to be tied exactly to the nature of your work. The themes you choose can be interesting metaphors for the values you stand for, or the way you want your clients to feel.

Ideas for themes/directions:

  • minimalism
  • natural landscapes
  • cartoonish illustrations
  • rustic/homemade
  • geometric
  • black & white
  • floral
  • beachy/travel-inspired
  • futuristic

Collect inspirational examples of branded material and logos

Go and see what’s out there! Try typing in your theme + “brand identity” or “website” or “logo” into a search engine and see if anything catches your eye. Pinterest is awesome for this. I’ve collected thousands of beautiful images of brand material from around the web that you can check out here.

You’re not trying to find an exact match of what you want your own brand identity to look like. Instead, you’re looking for examples that inspire the same kind of feel and aesthetic that you want to create for your own brand.

Add photography

Photos are a great way to instantly set the mood you’re going for with your brand. They can be lifestyle shots or photos of products your ideal clients would be into. Maybe close-ups of interesting textures, or a snapshot of a moment that captures the feelings you want to evoke.

Look for photos that would could imagine using for your brand, whether on your website, on social media, in your marketing, or elsewhere. Be aware things like the expressions of the people in the shots, or the way the light looks.

Test some colours and typography

As you start to collect more images, you might start seeing the same kinds of colours cropping up over and over. At the very least, you will probably start getting a sense of what tones seem right for your brand. Maybe they’re bright and vibrant, or moody and subdued. It could be neutral, or black and white. Try mixing in solid blocks of colour to your collection of images and seeing how they fit.

You can also check out my post on 22 hand-picked colour palettes for your next project

Typography will be another important element of your brand identity, and its worth noting the styles you’ve collected so far in your inspirational images. Are they heavy and dramatic? Refined and feminine? Hand-lettered? Embellished?

Try finding more examples of text and typography that interests you and fits the way you want your brand to speak.

Include ideas for graphic elements

Graphic elements, like patterns and icons or symbols, can really bring a brand identity together. Just like using your logo and brand colours consistently, patterns and icons that follow a distinct style can help to tie your visuals together and make your brand identity instantly recognisable.

There are plenty of ways to use graphic elements which can range from something as simple as using a line in a particular way to separate design elements, or more detailed examples like repeated patterns on the borders of all your brand material. Some of the inspirational example images you’ve collected might have ideas for you already. Look out for other ideas and add them to your collection.

Curate your images and put that moodboard together

At this point, you should have a solid collection of ideas for your brand identity and images you find inspiring. Carefully selecting the best images and putting them together in a way that fits is the final step. It’s possible you’ve collected images for several different potential directions, in which case it will make sense to make more than one moodboard so that you can easily compare them.

Open up your favourite image editing software (or if you’re a scissors and glue type of person, print out your images) and start playing around with the images you’ve collected. Look, there’s no correct way to do this. I believe in just trying things out and seeing how it makes you feel. The final product should be something that you look at and respond to by feeling completely inspired, because it genuinely hits upon the tone and mood you want your brand to express.

Here's how to create a moodboard as the first step when it comes to designing a new brand identity for your business.Last thoughts

My final piece of advice is to have fun putting your moodboard together! At the end of the day, I think this should be an enjoyable exercise that helps you get closer to creating the perfect visual identity for your business. It’s should feel exciting for you to imagine the possibilities of what your branding could look like.

Interested in getting a hand with the development of your brand and visual identity? Find out about working with me!

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