Most people know what they like when they see it, but have a hard time putting it into words. Enter mood boards!
Mood boards are one of the crucial steps in The Style Discovery I do with my clients. They help define the "vibe" of the brand, identify the common elements that make up the style foundation of the brand and they help us both get clear on what the vision is for a product or brand photography session.
Over time your style vocabulary will grow as you develop your brand but even still one person's definition of a word is slightly different than another's. There's a difference between “Anthropologie fun and vibrant” and “Kate Spade fun and vibrant” so let's make sure we get the right one!
Today I'm sharing my method for creating a Pinterest mood board for styling inspiration. Let's get started.
CLEAR YOUR MIND AND THE REST WILL FOLLOW
Take a few moments to get into a creative mental space. Go for a walk, take a bath, have some tea (or wine!) and then settle in for a brainstorming and Pinterest session - and have some fun with it!
Before you get started Pinning, it's best to set a few guidelines to help you stay focused.
- jot down three words that describe your brand
- note you color palette
- describe your "vibe" or the overall look and feel of your brand
Keep these notes handy and refer to them during the rest of the process.
PIN FIRST, ANALYZE LATER
I recommend setting a timer so you don't get carried away. We all know Pinterest is a slippery slope toward shear pinning madness. This shouldn't take more than 30-60 minutes. Also, don't go crazy and pin a hundred images - just start with 20-50 images, we will cull them down later.
Pin photos, fonts, colors, patterns, textures that align with the words, colors and vibe of your brand. Pin images that you are drawn to or that you have an instinctual reaction toward.
Consider the following:
- Do you already have images on your other boards or in your likes?
- Look up your favorite brands. What are they pinning, who do they follow for inspiration?
- Search keywords that relate to your brand and business. Like the three words, colors and keywords from your vibe summary you noted from above.
- Pin products that align with your brand and inspire you.
- Get off Pinterest. Pin directly from websites, blogs or online look books. (You can do this by adding a "Pin It" button to your bookmarks bar.)
- Look outside your industry, in places that inspire you - fashion, travel, food? Explore those areas, nothing is off limits.
- Pin images that have a "feel" you are going for. Notice these boards aren't just of jewelry or leather bags, but environments, shops, textiles that have a certain feel my client was attracted to.
- Add a few textures, patterns and fonts for variety.
Remember this is just an exercise to gather inspiration, don't get hung up on perfection. Right now we are just trying to get the creative juices flowing. If you run across an inspiring element later you can always add it. The best brands develop over time.
REFINE + DEFINE
After you initial round of gathering images, it's time to refine and define. Take a quick break to top off that cup of tea (or wine!) and come back with fresh eyes.
- What do you think of your board? How does it make you feel? Is that aligned with the three words you chose in step one?
- Do they all go together, which of these photos is not like the other? Are there any outliers? Delete any that no longer fit your story. Ask yourself "does this support the message I want to convey?"
- Label what you like about each photo in the comment. Is it the color of the wood? The use of the patterns, props, negative space or lighting? This is a great way to dissect what it is you are drawn to in each image and uber helpful when you share the board with others.
- How do you plan to use branded photos in your business? Will there be text overlay or graphics? Do your inspiration images allow for these uses?
This process might spark some ideas - so be open minded and take notes as you go. You might notice a few tweaks that you want to make in your brand colors or vibe. Maybe you're ready to be more casual and less glam. Or maybe you've already started these changes in other areas, such as web copy and client interactions, but need photos to match this new side of your brand personality. Creating a mood board will reinforce your understanding of your brand currently and how you want to define it moving forward.
CREATE A STYLE SUMMARY
Create a style summary based on your new mood board by noting the common threads in your inspiration images.
- Do they use a lot of blush tones, stripes, weathered wood?
- Are the photos mostly flatlays, lifestyle or environmental?
- Is the styling minimal with lots of negative space, or complex and full of movement?
Look for these elements in your props, when choosing backgrounds or shooting angles. Reference this summary when looking for stock photos, creating social media graphics, or taking Instagram snaps.
When looking to hire a brand photographer or graphic designer look at their portfolio and see if they align with your new mood board. The same goes for design-based virtual assistants or other members of your creative team. Using mood boards is one way to get clear on your vision for your brand's style and a great tool to share your vision with others.