A Groovy Guide to Mood Boards

A totally radical way to start your design project

For anyone who grew up in the 70s (or even the 90s!), mood rings were a pretty big deal. They were so much more than a trendy accessory, but a completely ‘reliable’ depiction of your complex feelings and emotions.

Black displayed your stressed and anxious side, purple meant you were head-over-heels in love, and blue showed your relaxed nature and inner peace. Why talk about your feelings, when you could show them?

Mood boards work in a similar way, but are way more accurate. They are a visual representation of your design ideas to help your client gauge a ‘feeling’ of your project direction. We are stoked to show you exactly how they work, and how you can create your own. Let’s boogie!

Here’s the Lowdown: Mood Board Basics

A mood board is a collage of visual ideas, ranging from photography, advertisements, logo designs, text, color guides, and other sources of information. Collectively, they define the style and tone of your project. While mood boards are used across a wide range of creative disciplines, they are especially utilized in graphic and interior design, fashion, and advertising. Or you can just make them for fun!

There are so many benefits to creating a mood board. They serve as a source of inspiration, solidify your design visions, and help you better communicate with your clients. Let’s dive a little deeper.

Inspiration: Sometimes it’s hard to come up with new ideas. You might have been tasked with a project that’s out of your comfort zone, or maybe you’re just having an off-day. Either way, making a mood board will get those creative juices flowing, and soon enough, you’ll have tons of ideas to present to your client!

A Solid Vision: It’s not uncommon that you and a client verbally agree on a design concept, but you both visualize something completely different. Mood boards are a great representation of your design direction; to keep you, your team, and your client on the same wavelength.

Communication: It’s important that you and your client are on the same page, and mood boards help you do that. Mood boards help represent your ideas in material form to a client, like a little glimpse into your design thoughts! Clients can give you constructive criticism from the get-go, so that you don’t waste time working on something that your client ends up turning down.

Types of Mood Boards

When it comes to mood board presentation, there’s no right or wrong! Two of the most common types are physical and digital.

If you’re an old soul, you might prefer a physical mood board. You can collect sources from old books, maps, photographs, or you can incorporate magazine cut-outs, advertisements, materials from a former project, anything! We suggest mounting your inspiration on a foam board, something you can get at any craft store.

If you feel more comfortable gathering your sources online, that also works. Social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are hotspots for inspiration photos. Once you have everything you need, you can upload your imagery to an application, like Collato, where you can virtually present your ideas to your client.

Two Ringin’ Reminders

We know that mood boards can be incredibly fun to make, but recall these two tips while finding your imagery and materials.

1. Think About Your Client

Although it’s easy to get sidetracked when making a mood board, remember that your project is for your client! Look for materials that convey their brand and design needs. What are your target demographics? Meaning, what's the age group, gender, background, location, ect. Say you’re making an advertisement for a mountaineering course for teenagers, what sort of content would they want to see?

If you don’t fully understand your clients vision, we suggest starting with a creative brief. The best way to get to know one another!

2. Stay on Brand

Consistency is key! When you’re pursuing through content, you might come across a totally cool image that you want to include in your mood board. But wait! Just because you like it, doesn’t mean it will fit your mood board theme. Stay on brand and keep the same message all throughout. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this align with my client’s brand?
  • Would the audience find this appealing and captivating?
  • Does it fit the style, color, and theme of my other content?

Create Your Own Groovy Mood Board

Once you’ve talked to your client about their design needs, it’s time to start creating! We’ve collected some sources to inspire your next mood board creation.

Imagery: It’s true what they say, a picture speaks a thousand words! Choose imagery that helps show the mood or feeling of a project. If your client wants to be perceived as light-hearted and fun, you want to show that through the your photos.

Art: Get inspiration from those who know it best! Incorporate pieces from famous artists to get a feel for the time period you’re going for! 

Texture: Finding imagery that has some texture is a great way to add to your project. Even if the colors are monochrome, texture can add some spice to any mood board. Some examples are wood, leaves, sandpaper, bark, linens, and carpets.

Shapes and Patterns: A variety of shapes and patterns can give off a certain ‘vibe.’ For instance, mood boards that incorporate shapes with corners might signify a more professional or serious tone, while shapes with rounded edges might come off as more playful and fun.

Color Palettes: Colors evoke an emotional response and create an association between a product and a company. Everyone knows that the Facebook colors are dark blue and white, Instagram uses a rainbow gradient, and Pinterest employs cherry red and white. These colors cement the connection between their services and their brand. So be really picky with what colors you use!

Text: It’s likely that your project will incorporate some sort of text. If that’s the case, then draw from advertisements, font data bases, and products for some inspiration. Is the project or brand serious and professional, or scriptly and free-spirited? Find text and fonts that support your vision.

💡Sometimes a quote can support your project ‘feeling.’ But choose these wisely!

And there you have it! Now that you have all the raw materials, you can begin to arrange your mood board. This process is totally up to the designer, but keep in mind that composition, scale, and hierarchy are very important factors. If you make a picture bigger, that might mean it’s of most importance. Or if you add imagery to the center of your moodboard that might mean it’s the focal point of your project. Take your time and enjoy the creative process!

Collato’s Far Out Features

Collato makes collaboration with externals easy, especially during your project kick-off! After you’ve made your mood board, you can share your work with your clients to get direct input. What better way to start the feedback process than with a mood board?

When it comes to deciding between certain elements of a project, like color palettes or fonts, your clients have the option to rate your ideas with a thumbs up, thumbs down, or a neutral hand. That way, you can better measure what their design tastes are.

If they have anything to add, such as preferences, ideas, or criticisms, they can leave a comment alongside your mood board. They can even upload documents to this comment, tag coworkers and teammates, or respond with emojis. (You can of course use this feature too!)

Another option within Collato is the image gallery. You can upload a variety of pictures for everyone to see. It’s flexible and can be used for a range of content types such as mood boards and prototypes presenting.

You have many presenting options, whether that’s viewing the images one by one, two at a time, or all together. Additionally, add borders around the images to create a clean looking mood board.

💡If you want to bring your mood board to life, you can also add gifs, songs, and videos!

What else can you do with Collato? Check us out here or visit our other blog posts to learn more.

Catch You On the Flip Side

Now that you have all the resources you need to make your own mood board, from the project type to different material inspiration, go get creative!

Send your client a totally radical moodboard that they’ll dig. Until then, later days!

Disclaimer: The images in this blog post were sourced from Pinterest and the font examples were found on dafont.com.

Made with 🍦 in Berlin.