Wait up! Before I talk about getting visual direction + inspiration boards – if you missed my first two posts in the series – then take a look at where branding actually starts here, and then how to get clear focus for your brand here.
Moving onto “Visual direction” for your brand!
Now you’re in that weird space between being clear on where you’re taking your brand… and actually creating the elements that will make up your brand.
It’s like knowing that you and your Boo want to go out for dinner – but if you didn’t get clear on the kinda food you wanted to eat beforehand – you could end up in a pizza joint dressed up for 5 star dining.
Or… [because I’m having fun with analogies today], it could be like knowing you want to go for a walk – but someone hands you a pair of high heels – when you’re in the mood for a 5km run!
Your expectations and the reality – need to be aligned.
And to do that… designers make use of the inspiration board – to make sure that the visual direction they are moving in, is one that resonates with you.
Wait, so the inspiration board isn’t just a bunch of pretty pictures?
hahaha… at first glance the inspiration board is just a nice collage of pretty pictures.[and If you’re creating a brand without heart, then yes… the inspiration board is just a moodboard / bunch of pretty pictures and colours].
But for me, it’s more than that.
Not only does it hold the keys to the visual elements and colours and direction that their brand is moving in…
It also tells the story of your brand!
To help illustrate, let me take you through the story of this moodboard I created for a fictitious client… let’s call her Lucy.
Lucy is a Coach.
I captured her process and her story in one board:
Clients come to Lucy feeling prickly, and a little rough around the edges… life has been hard – they feel alone, like they are in a desert and not good enough!
Lucy listens to their story, she sees the ingredients that make them special, and then she starts working with them to help them see that they are enough. Working with them, she helps them stand in front of the door of possibilities… in sessions they start to come alive and grow.
Then one day, they realise their uniqueness… They see their light shine brightly.
They start embracing life fully, and celebrate all that they are.
Did you see how that story unfolds in the moodboard too?
Plus, as you can tell – Lucy has a fettish for green.
Partly because it symbolises growth, partly because it’s a powerful natural force.
But Emma… How would this play out in her brand?
The most obvious would be the colour palette that emerged in her board:
It’s a pretty clean palette – with Lush Meadow Green being the key colour… accentuated by darker greys and black, and white and gold.
More than that… Lucy’s style is one that’s refined [she likes the finer things], and care is taken to the details [look at how the books are stacked, the attention to detail in the make up, her shoes, the kind of chair + light fitting in the office image, and the craftsmanship of the cocktail shaker].
But, in contrast to that – she allows her clients space to be them, and be organic – which is noted in the paint texture of the quote, the handwritten font, the bite out of the ice-cream, the plants on the office wall, and the aurora lights!
So I would combine these two elements in her brand.
Different types of boards that emerge!
Sometimes, there is one clean cut style that comes through for my clients.
Sometimes clients have such unique and diverse aspects of their AwesomeSauce, that their boards hold seemingly contrasting styles.
How do you know what to include in a moodboard, Emma?
I would love to tell you to use my formula on creating a moodboard.
When I create a moodboard for a client, I use it to allow their unique and beautiful story to shine through.
No formula can replicate this.
So how do you go about creating a moodboard, Emma?
It all starts with the images.
After my clients have pulled through all the images that represent the brand, I start looking for clues.
Sometimes the story is pretty clear cut and evident, with dominant colours, patterns and themes peeping through, and sometimes I need to combine different styles and elements to represent the brand most effectively.
Take a look at this board,
the colours are pretty evident [see how the pinks dominate and are clearly jumping out at you?] But there are other clues in this board too… like the florals, and the bling, as well as the angled lines.
sometimes I need to bring through different [and seemingly contradictory] thoughts and images into one board.
I love using Lovely pretty’s board to illustrate this…
When I first looked at her board… on the one hand I saw fresh, modern, bling but clean imagery; but then on the other hand I saw a DIY, vintage, and natural imagery. As I started, I almost contemplated making two brand boards they were so different.
But then I set to work weaving a little magic, creating the elements of her brand story… until we pulled through both sides of her brand into one [very cohesive] board.
Once the trend is identified, it’s time to distil it
Because there are only so many pictures you can have on your moodboard.
This is where I will connect with my client to see which images were most important to her, which ones convey her brand most beautifully and which ones speak the most volume in terms of how she wants her clients to experience the brand.
Sometimes we pull the images straight from the board, and sometimes we need to look a little further to really bring the brand message across.
Time to piece the puzzle together
To my clients, it feels like they sent me some pictures and I magically provide them with a moodboard that sums up their whole business… but it goes a bit deeper than that.
I like to think that your moodboard is your brand art piece.
I painstakingly piece elements together, balance colours, and still tell your brand story… all on one board.
I move pieces around, spend hours aligning it all, and I keep tweaking it until it feels “just right”. Sometimes this happens in the space of a few hours, sometimes it lasts days… worming it’s way into my brain.
By the time it’s done, I really do feel like I have created an art piece.
But it’s my clients art piece too…
so once I have sent her the moodboard options [because there is always more than one], we look at which moodboard explains her brand best.
We’ll work together to decide the right colours for her brand, which font’s she’s crushing on more, and which patterns are popping through!
Next step in building the brand…
… is to use this gorgeous moodboard as my guide [or visual direction, if you will] whilst creating all of her gorgeous [and consistent] brand elements.
The moodboard is not only my muse whilst creating the brand logo, it also helps me make sure that what I create is consistent with where my client wants to take her business, and I constantly refer back to the board to make sure that the dream is being realised properly.