As a company, you would have probably received hundreds of buyer briefs in the form of moodboards, but have you tried to understand the core concept behind it - What is a Moodboard ? Why do you need one ?
In the simplest of words, a mood board is a collage of images conveying a mood. It is a set of images carefully chosen and collated together, to convey a certain feeling and drive our design process forward.
Moodboards in B2B
In B2B, Moodboards tend to be a one-way street - always coming from the buyer's end. A lot of companies tend to shy away from making their own moodboards, relying only on the buyer to provide design directions.
In this situation, the Moodboard becomes even more critical because this is not your vision to begin with. If you were to research trends and create your own moodboard, you would know how to take the design forward for the next season. But since this brief and board is coming from someone else, you must decode the photos and understand their brief and their vision before designing.
The Need for a Moodboard
A moodboard gives us a chance to get on the same page visually as our buyer. Companies receive buyer briefs in varied time zones, and it's not possible for you to go back & forth with your buyer asking small doubts. The Buyer needs you to understand the brief in one go and give him your best designs - and all of this is only possible with a moodboard.
Here are 5 key reasons for why you need a Moodboard :
The first thing a Moodboard brings to us is Clarity.
We are all unique individuals and have completely individualized experiences that trigger our brain memory. One word may evoke something entirely different to you than it does to your buyer. Your buyer may say “leafy” while thinking of tropical leaves, but you may hear “leafy” and think of overgrown house plants. Both qualify as leafy, but they are very different visuals.
Moodboards allow us to have complete clarity on the look our buyer wants. So if the buyer desires a Greenhouse collection, a Moodboard will explain to us with clarity about his idea of a Greenhouse - whether he wants a summer whites botanical look (moodboard A below) or a rich, dense greenery look (moodboard B).
There is nothing wrong in either version of the Greenhouse. They are simple two different visions, that will inspire two different design collections.
With a Greenhouse moodboard in hand, the designer has a very clear idea about the look in his buyer's mind and will not waste time imagining his own version of a Greenhouse.
2. Communication Tool
Visuals are much stronger communication tools than written words. You can write paragraphs describing the humongous nature of the Eiffel Tower, or show a picture. The same principle applies to our inspiration boards. You can receive a 500 word brief from your buyer, or a simple Moodboard which communicates the complete message.
Let's break it down with an example. Below on the left is a buyer's brief over email. He's written to Tom (you) that he loved a rust color trend story he spotted & wants you to work on it - giving you the keywords of rustic earth & tribal prints. To appear professional, you will likely not tell your buyer that this brief is confusing - rustic earth could mean anything from desert terrain to cracked textures, and tribal prints could refer to tribes from anywhere in the world. This brief has no clarity.
But if your buyer emailed you the Moodboard on the right, he wouldn't need to give you a written brief, and yet it would be crystal clear communication about the look he wants.
This also creates a channel for effective communication later in the process. If the buyer wants you to focus on one look (image) more than others, he can simply highlight it to let you know. You can go back and forth in your communication on the basis of the contents of this Moodboard.
3. Momentum & Ideas when stuck
When a designer studies a Moodboard to create a collection, they often scan for the most prominent features/styles/look of the mooboard and start designing. They note the most prominent elements and assess that they could create a 20 piece collection from it. And so they go off to work.
But more often than not, inspiration can begin to fade as we keep developing designs. And in times like those, a Moodboard is a great, great way to break the mental block and spot new ideas.
Let's look at this Terratone moodboard below. The first set of striking elements here are the earthy neutrals mixed with terracotta, organic ceramic & pottery shapes, natural wood textures, and playful geometry. Using this analysis, the designer starts creating their collection.
But after 15 designs out of the requested 20, the designer is stuck. They can always come back to the Moodboard and spot things they missed before - like the tone on tone, basket weaves, unfinished edges & each shape being unique. Using these new insights, they can easily come up with 10 more designs.
Without a moodboard, they can keep struggling to find fresh vision and lead to two situations. Either poor quality designs, or delay in your delivery timeline for the project - causing a poor impression on your buyer.
4. Conveys Emotion/Mood
A moodboard is more than just images put together - its about creating a mood, evoking an emotion that drives the design forward. An emotion doesn't have to mean angry or sad - here we talk about design as an emotion - for example, when we get a retro 70's moodboard, its about evoking nostalgia for the bygone era and revisiting it.
The Mood is the main objective of any Moodboard. It cannot be random pictures put together, its a cohesive collage where every picture has a purpose, and a reason to be there. Looking at the Floral Moodboard below, we can obviously guess it's about florals but what is the mood ? The mood is dark & moody (highlighted by the black spaces), the flowers are deep hued & offset by darker backgrounds - conveying a mystic night in the woods.
If you design without considering the mood of the Moodboard, you may end up making extremely direct designs. You may look at this and see the roses, and create a rose collection. But that won't fulfill your buyer's brief to the T.
Having a Moodboard allows you to gauge the mood of this brief to create innovative designs for the next season.
5. Early Decision-making with Client
Creating Moodboards is also a great way of getting your buyer's attention. If you only respond to buyer moodboards, he or she may never find out the design abilities of your company. By creating moodboards for upcoming seasons, you can establish authority as a strong design organisation, as the buyer will be able to differentiate you from your competition.
It also establishes early decision-making with the client. If the client selects a Moodboard from your offering, then they have already bought into your vision. You have created your moodboard based on full research & with complete clarity on how to design it further. So if the buyer approves your moodboard, that shows that they already love your concept - and you have a higher chance of cracking approvals from them.
So that sums up why a Moodboard is a MUST for any design process. You should always push your buyer's brief to come through as a Moodboard, and incase your buyer does not provide you one, take the initiative to create a Moodboard based on this brief. You can always get your moodboard approved from the buyer, and this will not only impress your buyer, but also give you a clear design direction.
Apart from creating and presenting your own moodboards, you must also enhance your ability to decode your Buyer's moodboards.
Read here : 7 Mistakes when designing for a Buyer's Moodboard
Do you find it hard to create striking Moodboards ? Is your team losing orders because they don't really understand Moodboards ? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org & schedule a private Ask-me-Anything session (included in your Texilist subscription).