Why moodboards should be an essential part of your design process

Nicole Steinberg
Feb 26, 2024

I’m not going to beat around the bush—I absolutely love putting together a good moodboard or two and firmly believe they should be a mandatory step in every designer’s process. But before I tell you why, let’s establish exactly what moodboards are and where they come into play.

In our creative process, moodboarding comes right after the discovery call and is the first step in establishing a visual identity for a client’s brand. A moodboard is a collection of images, colours, typography, patterns, graphics, and more that have been curated to capture a brand’s essence and inform the creative direction.

A clear path forward

By defining the design direction from the beginning, you give both you and your client a north star to follow and refer back to throughout the project. Because there is already a general idea of what fonts, colours, etc. they might see in the final product, client expectations are managed, and there are no surprises when it comes time to present your work. There’s no need to run back to the drawing board over and over again and rehash designs when everyone is on the same page from the beginning. And in the event that you do have a difficult client that swears you’re completely off base, you have the receipts to show them exactly what they signed off on.

A chance for collaboration

Often, clients have big ideas of what they want their brand to look like but don’t have the right words or reference points to express what they’re imagining. What makes moodboards so magical is that they provide a way for clients to see their ideas brought to life in a format that’s flexible. Because they are simply visual representations, there’s still room for client input before actually getting into the nitty-gritty of design. The easiest way we’ve found to involve clients is by presenting them with three distinct directions and giving them the choice of which to move forward with. By including them in the process, you establish a transparent and collaborative partnership from the get-go.

A creative challenge

Jumping directly into a design project without a fleshed-out direction established can be overwhelming because there are just so many paths you could go down. While moodboards might sound like they’d limit your creativity, they actually do the exact opposite. By doing the hard work upfront of finding different ways to visualize a brand, you provide yourself with a springboard full of ideas to explore. Putting together a moodboard is also a creative challenge in and of itself. Sourcing and pairing together reference images that both capture the client's aspirations and show your creative expertise is a puzzle that will force you to think outside the box every time.


Just like every project is different, every designer has their own process. While the exact steps you take are entirely your prerogative, I highly encourage you to not skip moodboarding in your next project. Not only will you immediately establish a creative direction that all parties are happy with, but you'll also build a trusting and collaborative relationship with your clients and find new ways to push yourself creatively. And if you’re anything like me, you might just find that putting together moodboards can be an incredibly fun and satisfying part of the process.

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