Develop Your Brand with a Brand Board

A brand board (also called a brand mood board) might not be something you see every day, but it can be a vital part of creating your brand’s visual identity. If you want to develop or refresh your brand do it totally reflects who you are as a company, this is the place to start.

Think of a brand board as an outline or checklist for your brand. If a design asset isn’t clicking or if something looks out of place, you can check it against the board to find out why. Your brand board is the place to begin codifying what you want your brand to express — what does it stand for, how do you want people to think of it, and how will you visually represent all of that?

What do you put in a brand board?

“What goes in my brand board?” is one of those questions without a satisfying answer, but we’re gonna try. See, you can put anything on your board. If you’re starting out, that doesn’t give you much direction. Sorry. But one positive way to look at this is that you’re not limited by any particular set of guidelines — if you have an idea for something that visually represents your brand, try it out.

The basics, of course, are images. These can include photos, drawings, sketches, etchings, whatever, but remember that design elements can come into play here, too. Colors, fonts, textures, even more esoteric things like lighting or photo effects can be part of your brand. 

Boeing Employees Credit Union used this style of portrait and lighting for years, and it became as recognizable as their red logo. And by using members rather than models, It also reinforced the fact that they’re member-owned, which is an essential component of their brand.

And if that look inspires you, grab it and put it on your board. The board isn’t for public viewing, and it comes before you create your assets to give direction and examples, so there will be a lot of borrowing.

Choose your colors

Is orange your favorite color? Great! Use it in your brand!

No. Seriously, no. Colors mean things. Color is a big deal. 

Here’s a basic 30,000-foot overview of what colors often imply. You probably already know this stuff on some level, because you see it every day. When you look at marketing campaigns, you see lots of blues and greens in the financial world, lots of oranges and yellows in the creative space. 

Colors have relationships as well, and you can see them really clearly on a color wheel. But which colors go together? Well, we naturally have some ideas about that, all backed up by science and such, and there are some cool tools that will give you a leg up, too.

Once you nail down some color ideas, putting together a color palette is a good next step. This will give you a range of colors to use throughout your marketing work. 

Find the right font

There’s a reason Instagram and The Home Depot use different fonts in their logos. If you don’t buy that and think that designers just choose whatever font they’re fancying that day, take a few minutes to swap the fonts and recreate those logos. It doesn’t work.

Want a traditional, reliable feel? Use a serif font. Want to look nimble and modern? Ditch those serifs and use a sans serif font. Need to be IN EVERYONE’S FACE ALL THE TIME? Find a bold display font like Smash.

What are you writing with your fonts? Words, most likely. In terms of a brand board, you’re gonna see rather than hear words, so think about fonts, placement, and effects. If there are words that describe your brand, find a way to make them stand out. And focus on single words rather than sentences — think “compassionate” rather than “concerned for others.” 

Can a single word really be that essential to a brand? You bet. Type “relentless.com” into a browser to get an idea of how important a word can be to someone.

Get inspired by templates

And brand boards can be physical or digital. The cool thing about physical boards is that they can engage all of the senses — they can be picked up and looked at in various lighting and situations. The downside is that they can’t be readily shared, especially if you have a distributed team. Digital boards, on the other hand, are, you know, digital. Easy to share, easy to tweak. Of course, that’s where we shine.

PicMonkey has brand board templates all ready to go for you. While it’s possible that one of them is exactly what you need (we try our best, after all), it’s more likely that you’ll find one that has a layout you like, and you’ll change some or all of the elements. What can you change? Anything you want. 

  • Background color — use the color picker to match your brand colors.

  • Text — click template text and replace it with your own.

  • Graphics — use one of ours, or replace a template graphic with one of your own.

  • Position — move elements exactly where you’d like them to be.

Our help center has all the info you could want about messing around with templates. Take a look if you need a little of the how-to.

Use whatever you want

One cool thing about a brand board is that it isn’t limited to things like fonts and colors. Is there a painting that shows the exact look of determination you want to portray? How about the napkin doodle that started your company? Or is there a feather or a leaf you picked up on a hike that inspired your logo? Anything like that can be part of your board. If you’re going digital, take a pic of it. Or go a step further and take that pic in the environment it came from, if you can. 

And if you really do need or want your board to be all digital, pics of this stuff can work just as well. Plus, if you’re working remotely, you won’t have to worry about enclosing a return envelope for your feather.

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Kevin is a technical and creative writer with experience writing for Redmond and Hollywood. He is by all accounts a terrible vegetarian, mainly because of pepperoni pizza. He has never seen "The Sound of Music," but he has seen pink dolphins. In addition to being an accomplished writer, his acting and singing have been described as "fine."