Every business has an original story. Most of my clients hire me to step in, listen, poke and prod, ask the right questions, then take all the their loose and random thoughts and answers and build a cohesive, compelling brand identity. Yikes, right?
Actually, I have to share that despite what to some may seem a daunting task, building a visual aesthetic for someone as a personal brand or on a larger scale for a corporate brand is one of my most favorite things to do.
Your (or your widget’s) aesthetic is all about the image your brand invokes, both the obvious and the subtle. A well-considered brand identity MUST create an emotional connection with your customers.
I have been art directing my team of graphic designers for years. When I first started my boutique agency, I would meet with clients, take copious notes and then attempt to craft from those notes a creative brief so that my team could design an identity that resonated clearly. Because I am hired with creating something that has never before been originated the process was a bit arduous because rounds of revisions were required until we could fully satisfy and land on something that everyone was happy with.
When Pinterest burst onto the scene in 2010, I fell in love with the platform immediately and used it for my personal use as did many others as a virtual online scrapbook. Slowly the site evolved to become known in industry circles (real estate, home renovation, entertaining, cooking to name a few) for its ability to provide a portfolio of inspirational pins. Seven years later, the company and site has grown by tremendous leaps to include every conceivable category.
For this brand gal, being able to search and find imagery based on specific keywords, colors, typography…oh me oh my. I reveled in it and found myself bringing clients to the site in order to hone in on and pinpoint distinctly their ideal aesthetic or vision. Fast-forward and creating mood boards for my clients has become a core component of my process for establishing a client’s brand identity. When you’re just embarking on a new project, a mood board can become the difference between effectively zeroing in on an aesthetic or wandering aimlessly in a sea of possibilities. The brainstorming phase of any project has a tendency to get chaotic, so why not compile all of your ideas in one place; it has saved myself and my team valuable hours avoiding multiple concept revisions.
Now I simply jot down some verbal search terms gleaned from conversations with clients during discovery. I whip up a Pinterest board using those and create a visual essence that is specific to them. I can’t tell you how much adding this piece to my process has allowed me to more easily share what I envision for them and how using the mood board acts as a solid medium for translating that into an actual logo (or website architecture or collateral). It provides inspiration and serves as a reference tool for all my client’s branded pieces and parts.
This past spring, my team and I decided to involve our personal brand and entrepreneurial clients even more in our collaborative effort. When we onboard for a new project, one of the first things we do is have our clients create a version of their own mood board via our Brand By Kelly™ 5 Day Challenge. Using a five-day email sequence, we walk our clients through how to create their board to include design elements, such as color palettes, imagery, fonts, patterns, and textures that they are drawn to. We explain at length how to cultivate, search and save those items and then how to parse things down.
By doing this, we gather perspective and insight into how our clients wish to be showcased. From their mood board, I distill down even further to narrow the board to 50 or so images that form an emerging theme. I review the final mood board with the client for additional clarity and approval and then my team gets cranking on design concepts based around that emerging theme.
Here are several of my recent client mood boards:
Interested in seeing more of my boards? Go to: https://www.pinterest.com/kellylucente/
My clients love the mood boards and my designers are grateful for them as the boards communicate a visual language. FYI, the idea is not to copy design elements right from the mood board. The goal is to figure out what design aesthetic our clients are most attracted to and use them as a means for creating brand spanking new visuals.
Mood boards are a fabulous visual summary of your business and brand. Each time you create a graphic or branding element for your business you can check back with the mood board so that you know it’s on brand. Brand style guides are what the big brands use with all their vendors but even my corporate clients have begun to investigate the hoopla around my mood board challenge.
Brand On. I’m off to pin.