Last time, I pleaded a case for designers to use more moodboards when kicking off a project. Now I’ll recap my session from this year’s Presentation Summit, giving a quick crash course on how to properly craft a moodboard for creative alignment, stakeholder engagement, and immediate collaboration.

There are six key steps in creating a moodboard. Let’s run through them:

1. Understand the Brand

An obvious starting place, but whether you’re working on an internal project or for a client, you need to understand the company’s persona. You can source this information for the company’s website and social media platforms, any prominent marketing campaigns or internal presentations they’ve done previously, and most importantly, their brand guidelines. Not every organisation will have brand guidelines, but this will provide the tone and style of their communications.

Once you have a clear indication of the brand persona, boil that down to three words describing an attitude, characteristic, or mood. Personifying the brand helps create a clearer understanding of how that brand would look and speak.

2. Understand the Project

This comes down to a series of questions you have to ask, such as what is the project? Who’s the intended audience? What is the general purpose? What are your (or client’s) personal preferences? This sort information comes from the brief as well as any reference materials provided by the client such as previous work or inspiration.

Take your understanding of the project and – using three words again – describe themes, topics, or content.

3. Assess the Tools

These are essentially the different design asset at your disposal for creating the final deliverable. For example, colours, fonts, icons, layout, imagery, and typography. Then you need to determine which elements are flexible or inflexible.

Flexible elements offer you creative licence to search for and design on your own accord. Inflexible elements are the ones prescribed by the brand and cannot be replaced or altered. For example, things like logos and colour schemes are usually inflexible, but you have greater freedom with elements like imagery and layout.

4. Collect the Elements

Take your three brand words and three project words and measure each design element against those six words. For example, what kind of attitude does the font convey? What is the key theme of the imagery? It might help setting up a table to measure the elements against the brand and project descriptors.

5. Compile the Board

Now you simply compile the different elements that convey the different attitude or theme. This is your chance to compare and contrast elements and ideas in one place. It’s important to also determine whether you’re creating an elemental moodboard or a collective moodboard.

Elemental moodboard focus on a single design element or property. These are particularly useful when dealing with flexible elements as they highlight the properties over which you have more creative licence and the potential ways they can be altered.

Collective moodboards combine all separate design elements into a single source of inspiration and information. They help capture the overall aesthetic of the project and are especially useful for companies with loose (or non-existent) branding guidelines.

6. Engage in Feedback

Throughout this process, I hope you’ve been gathering input from key stakeholders and decision-makers. Now engage everyone to offer honest feedback with regards to likes and dislikes, the expectations, and the necessary changes for moving forward.

Moodboards can also be a great launching point for building brand guidelines. It’s sort of reverse engineering, but the moodboard offers a clear and concise summary of the company’s aesthetic preferences.

With your moodboard ready to roll, you can now considering storyboarding your idea to better map out the content and narrative arc. If you’d like to start designing faster and more efficiently, download our free Storyboard Creator template – available here.

Keep informed and get inspired

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