How to Make a Mood Board in 5 Easy Steps Plus Examples

Mood boards are a superb example of how visual storytelling is shaping the next decade.

For a start, mood boards are extensively used by designers and those from the creative fields to communicate ideas with clients.

These beautifully presented collage of concepts and inspiration allow clients to understand a designer’s creative vision.

Now, have you been meaning to make a mood board but not too sure how and where to get started?

This guide will cover the basic steps to make mood boards plus examples from various industries to inspire you.

What is a mood board?

A mood board typically includes a combination of images, texts, photographs, and textures to explore and present an idea in a way that words alone cannot.

mood board description

However, these elements are not standalone features on a board. Instead, they tie together to tell a cohesive story about a vision. This story has to be clear or the purpose of the mood board is lost.

Mood boards are often used in client presentations but they’re also equally important to tracking and feeding the designer’s own vision. 

Benefits of having a mood board

Here’s why you should consider creating a mood board before presenting your next big idea.

1. Record and organize ideas

A mood board lets you collect and organize your ideas in one place. Seeing all your inspirations and thoughts together helps you build clear messaging around a central theme. As a result, this keeps you focused.

In addition, the flow of creativity is mostly unpredictable. Creatives are notorious for getting a hundred ideas a day on some days and then drawing a complete blank on others.

By recording your ideas as and when they appear, you avoid losing them. Recording all your ideas on a mood board also lets you see them all in the context of the focal theme.

For example, you’re building a mood board for a webinar promotion project. You may have included certain images and font references that you felt would complement your campaign design.

After seeing the visual references positioned around the central theme, you may decide to remove certain elements because they don’t fit well.

2. Flexibility of format

Mood boards come in either physical or digital formats. This gives you the flexibility to choose how you want to access and share them.

With a digital mood board, it’s easier to edit and adjust photo and text samples. You can even include short branding video clips. Digital mood boards can be shared remotely and this helps save time.

Physical mood boards on the other hand benefit from the element of ‘texture’ that digital can’t provide.

For example, if you’re an upholstery company sharing your mood board of office décor with a client. Having your clients feel a sample of the velvet curtain you want to use will be much more effective than explaining its texture.

You can choose either of these formats based on how you want to present and share your creative ideas.

What should I include in my mood board?

The short answer is anything! You can use multiple elements while designing your mood board.

Your choices will naturally be guided by your brand and your industry. Common elements to include in mood boards are:

1. Photographs

Free photo galleries like Unsplash let you download millions of stock photos that you can use for your mood board.  When you create your mood board using Piktochart, you have access to over 3000+ high-quality photographs. Try Piktochart for free.

Piktochart's photograph library for your mood board
Piktochart’s photograph library for your mood board

2. Typography

It’s important to find the right font style for your brand. This is particularly true if you’re presenting a design idea. Choose one or two sample fonts and include them in your mood board to see how it matches with the rest of the style.

3. Words

While visual representation like brand colors is important, you can use short text captions to explain a point. This could be a relevant statistic or a famous quote or just a short summary of an idea.

word component of mood board
mood board example of words – made via Piktochart

4. Textures

As mentioned above, textures are a great element to add to a physical mood board. Textures include paper, fabric, and more.

5-step method for creating your mood board to communicate your creative idea more effectively

Now that we’ve found out the benefits of having a mood board, let’s look at the steps to creating a mood board of your own:

1. Define your idea.

The ultimate aim of a mood board is to communicate your creative ideas. To do this you first need to define what that idea is.

What messaging are you trying to broadcast to your clients and audiences?

For example, your company services small business phone lines. You need to make a list of target keywords that come to mind in relation to your brand and niche. These could include small businesses, phone lines, business phone systems, budget phones, and remote sales communications.

You can then move on to researching these keywords and finding relevant inspiration in the form of illustrations, typography, colors, and more.

This way, you’ll have a streamlined approach to shaping your concept and filtering out the distractions. When you pursue the right leads, you’ll have more success in finding the right ideas.

2. Curate your mood board.

A mood board, while being a visual record of your creative ideas is not a scrapbook. You’re trying to communicate your ideas with this board so using it merely as a dumping ground for random image and text inspirations defeats the purpose.

Your mood board is what your client will see to understand your concept about the brand. The board has to tell a story.

Take time to curate your mood board so that the different elements on it can relate logically and organically to each other. Your board shouldn’t seem like an unconnected sequence of isolated words and images.

For example, you’re an estate agent hosting a virtual open house. The elements in your presentation will include a video tour of the house, a focus on its USP like a period fireplace, and a breakdown of the floor plan and specifications. You wouldn’t include pictures of other apartments you have sold, because that’s irrelevant to the presentation.

Similarly, for mood boards, each element you include has to be carefully curated so it makes sense when put together as part of the bigger picture.

3. Focus on your key image.

A good rule of thumb while creating a mood board is to focus on one key image and structure all other elements around it.

The key image should be bigger than the other elements so it can draw audience attention immediately.

For example, if you’re trying to sell Christmas decors, your key image should be of the decors. This central image should be bigger and surrounded by images and words related to Christmas.

It’s natural to be drawn in by the big picture in a collage and then start linking the surrounding elements to this feature image. This is another reason why you should use visual storytelling in sales. A picture is worth a thousand words.

4. Use real-life photos.

While stock photos are wonderful, real-life photos provide a more authentic feel to your mood board.

You don’t need fancy gadgets to take these photos. Your phone camera can take perfectly good shots. From interesting street-side graffiti to the flowers in your garden – everything can provide potential inspiration for an idea.

For example, the color of a rose in your garden may be exactly the shade you want for your product packaging. Don’t worry about taking the perfect photo. What matters is the connection it has with your product.

Real-life photos and elements are great for evoking emotional responses. This pays when you’re presenting to a client.

5. Don’t make assumptions.

The number one rule when creating a mood board is to imagine that you’re presenting it to people who have no idea about your brand or product.

Avoid starting with the assumption that people know what you’re trying to convey.

Use more references if you need to but make sure your mood board is designed in a way that’s easy to understand and mostly self-explanatory.

Share your creative vision and ideas fast with mood boards.

Make your mood board in minutes. Get access to thousands of photographs, illustrations, icons, and visuals in Piktochart.

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Mood board examples for your next creative projects

Now that we’ve discussed the top tips for creating a mood board, let’s look at a few examples of using them:

1. Fashion mood board

The fashion industry is one of the best places to use mood boards. As a strongly visual medium, design and catalog presentations are best communicated via mood boards. 

2. Interior design mood board

Like fashion, interior design is another largely visual industry. So all design ideas and inspirations including fabric texture and color references are best communicated through mood boards.

3. Logos mood board

One of the most important aspects of branding is getting the right logo for your business. Logo design often comes from pooling together ideas and inspirations from various sources including other logos, signs and insignia.

Aside from having well-defined brand guidelines, having a visual reference where all of these ideas are collated helps communicate your vision for the logo. 

4. Typography mood board

Sometimes you need a mood board that is dedicated exclusively to the typography you want to use. Again, the inspiration for this can come from various sources and so a mood board helps effectively present these references. 

5. Color palette mood board

Like typography, you can also have a mood board that is dedicated specifically to your color palette references.

For example, if you were presenting a new design vision, your mood board could include the different color references that you want to use. This can include images, real photographs and more. 

Ready to make your mood board?

In this article, we’ve discussed the merits of mood boards and how they can help organize your ideas. We also looked at their core elements: photographs, textures, typography, and words. You also learned the basic steps to start making your own.

Mood boards are a reflection of your creativity. It is a very visual representation of your brain piecing together ideas and bringing them together to tell a singular, engaging story.

In summary, mood boards are a great visual reference for your creative vision and often act as a bridge between designers and their clients. What designers can visualize, mood boards can successfully portray.

No matter how simple or complex an idea, a mood board lets you explain it better. Create your free Piktochart account to get started with your first mood board.

About the guest author

Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a leading provider of cloud PBX services that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Follow Jessica on LinkedIn.

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