The mood board is a strategic, creative and visual tool that translates and transforms data in inspiration and references. It is a very powerful way to explore and define a concept, a product or simply a specific action into the market. Challenge your usual approach to creativity and fire up the infinite possibilities of your imagination.
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Yes, you! We are speaking to the manager, producer, or marketing manager who has happened upon this article.
There’s no doubt that the majority of those in the creative sector—designers, art directors, and the like—are familiar with and use a mood board in their various communications projects.
But we want to address a different group, individuals who are often involved in designing brand strategy or who play significant roles in re-directing or re-calibrating a company or specific products.
So, we’re speaking directly to you. You’re well used to handling data and numbers, without immersing yourself in the inebriating cloud of ideas aimed at pushing a project along–which could be a re-branding, the launch of a new wine, entering a new market, or pushing farther into it to promote your identity or products or to support your sales network.
So, challenge your usual way of doing things! Why not open a dialogue with that collective imagination process we all use—you included. Your imagination is really fired by suggestions, not directions. And it’s that creative flash, so unexpected and attractive, that is precisely what could very well lead you to a completely novel vision of reality.
A mood board is a simple tool that gives us a new and insightful method of approach. Just say the term mood board, and its meaning becomes clear: a kind of bulletin board that displays suggestions, feelings, and themes that trace and define what the particular style of a project will be. A style board.
The concept of mood board is more easily understood if we think of the world of fashion and of all that a fashion designer has to gather together to introduce or convey her idea of a specific clothing collection: photos, newspaper clippings, samples of textiles, flowers, buttons, and so forth—an assemblage of materials that can suggest far more than just words or a story can.
As we explained many times in our Brand Starter and Pitch&Speech articles, 90% of communication is “non-verbal”: that means that our brain more easily receives and processes concepts when they are expressed as images, scents, or tactile experiences.
A very similar process is known as a mental map: mutually-diverse elements interact among themselves and form a cloud richly populated with meaning and connections that otherwise would be difficult to assimilate in such a straightforward manner. Yes, our brain is amazingly fond of images, and it captures them as soon as they appear, in a very effective and efficient way.
The mood board is precisely such a multi-imaged cloud that helps the business—the businessperson, producer, brand or export manager—to immediately intuit a style or even a new direction. Thus, it has every right to become an important part of the strategic and creative process, since it can exhibit, clarify, and document the process dynamics and, in particular, can visually represent the final objective.
But where does one get all those images to use? Today, the mood board is essentially digital, and, with a touch of regret, we have almost lost that particular pleasure of cutting up magazines, using rich fabrics, leaves, flowers, notes from an array of notebooks, and then pinning them to a piece of cardboard stiff enough to hold all that dedication!
Sure, it has to be digital today, and we search for those images usually with search engines, or, even more so, on platforms such as Pinterest or Instagram.
Looking at the former for a moment, it allows us to more easily put together a “style palette,” since we can insert a series of boards right into the user profile, onto which we can then pin whatever inspires us about a specific project, to show someone, looking at it with us, exactly what is in our imagination.
Rule # 1: Don’t put limits on your imagination. Don’t be bound by just visual suggestions: search out other types of images that can convey other sensations and states of mind: images of velvet or leather, for example, to convey warmth, prestige, or tradition, or a splash of yellow lemon to conjure up freshness or joy.
What should you look for to insert into your style palette? Here are some indispensable elements:
Colour palette: a selection of colours appropriate to your product and that can serve to identify it.
Theme: the skeleton, the armature of our idea, the crucial backbone that will need a dressing of images that can summon up concepts, sensations, and suggestions. Let’s be frank: our idea has to primarily enlighten the person we’re working with, to convince them that it is perfect for achieving the common goal both of us have set.
Target: who are you trying to reach? What category of consumer is your idea aimed at? OK, include references to that category, to its inhabitants’ relevant life-stye and habits.
Keywords and font: inspiration can flow not just from visual elements, but from text appearance as well, from the style of characters, notes, key words—anything that can evoke impressions.
Our brain wants continuous input. It searches for stimulating nudges that can activate it to recognise and memorise what it is receiving. Seeing and understanding what is presented to us via a mood board helps to improve our ability to imagine.
This bears underscoring, since very often those to whom this “dialogue woven of images” is presented inhabit spheres where this kind of approach is not much practiced. So, the mood board thus becomes a tool of fundamental importance in the process of exchange that facilitates assimilation of the creative idea, driving that idea through the successive production stages of the project.
Fascinating, isn’t it? Knowing how to embrace an approach that is at once strategic, creative, and visionary enables one to play a unique role in the growth and evolution of a business, brand, or product. So, are you now ready to take that leap into the cloud?
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