The Mood Board and Creative Direction


The idea of mood boards might sound somewhat childish. I can remember making mood boards in elementary school, pasting together collages made from magazines and newspaper clippings.

When I went on to studying design, the amount of mood board assignments required increased (and so did the grade expectation)!

I have learned through experience the necessity of mood boards when it comes to designing absolutely anything. Mood boards, when used strategically, are rightly an essential step within the design process. Without one to refer back to when designing, I feel lost and often end up circling around ideas.


At what point should you create one?

After the first phase of the discovery process is completed  (the questionnaire), I have my clients send me a Pinterest board with inspirational images gathered.

I try to encourage pinning of images and text that reflect the descriptive words written within the questionnaire. I also always discourage pinning other logo designs.

The Creative Direction Board

After I’ve received both the questionnaire and initial moodboard, I typically have a very clear and visual idea of the project’s direction.

Mood boards done by the clients are usually quite accurate to the brand goals established. I think this is due to the fact that their head is still fresh from getting clear on their goals within the questionnaire.


I then create what I call the Creative Direction Board, which summarizes in point form the mission statement, services, unique differentials, and descriptive words, onto one page. Underneath these I provide a “tightened” moodboard.

This moodboard may or may not have images off of the initial client’s moodboard. If I’ve found the initial one seems visually scattered, trend driven, or simply not meeting goals, I can gently redirect the project with this second moodboard.

Typically I create most mood boards digitally, however, if the project is something that will be physically held, such as stationery, I find doing a moodboard that I can play with actual textures, paper translucency, etc. extremely helpful with my creative thought process.

Next, I ask the client to provide me with brief point-form feedback on the creative direction board visuals.

I ask them to let me know which images they love, but tell them what is most helpful to me is identifying anything that feels off or they just don't like. Font styles, illustrations, aesthetic, anything! I then cut any of these images out and curate the final moodboard.

You can see that the above mood board has a clear direction. We have a mood defined through colour, contrast, typography, texture, ideas for patterns, and more.

Having this refined mood board serves in moving me forward to the logo development stage knowing exactly what to steer clear of and what to strive towards.