How to Clarify Your Style & Create a Moodboard (a simple method)
In today's post, you'll learn how to:
Dispel any confusion around brand style because you already know your style!
Walk through an easy exercise to define your style values or feelings.
Use those words to systematically create a Pinterest mood board using my strategic search-and-scroll maneuver.
Why this is not optional and must be done BEFORE even writing your site copy.
And, yes, I did create a free downloadable version for you to follow along. You can get that at craftingcreative.com/checklist and I’ll add a link below too.
So, in case we haven’t met before:
Hey, I’m Meghan the website strategist at CraftingCreative.com where I work with other service-based creative entrepreneurs (by that I mean coaches, copywriters, OBMs, and even other designers) to craft websites that get them more consistent client inquiries with less hustle.
Your personal brand style is not restricted to your website.
Your style is always your style. And you can find it everywhere – from the clothes that attract you, to the way you decorate your home. The things that you love about a cozy room are often the same things you’ll love when it comes to your website.
And this is a very good thing to be aware of. Because, a lot of times, people will be confused by the word “branding” or they’ll feel like web design is so abstracted as a concept from what they’re familiar with, that they don’t know how to begin to make design decisions.
This happened to me, in reverse, when I was going through Hilary Rushford’s Style & Styleability course. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the concept of creating “outfits” that felt like “me” and looked good. It wasn’t until I talked with another stylist, Jessie Artigue, that I was able to turn my eye for web design toward my closet.
I tell you all this to say, if web design feels like a foreign concept that you just don’t “get”, it’s not you. We all find it difficult to translate one form of design into another. BUT the underlying values will be the SAME across mediums.
For example, I love bright, open, clean, white work spaces with conscious pops of color to spark visual interest. And, no surprise, that’s also how I like my website to be.
An exercise to help you make the connection from your personal style to your brand style.
This was inspired by a guest speaker on the Boagworld Podcast, Leigh Howells.
His exercise was to design your office waiting area but I prefer to design our own ideal workspaces. Think about your perfect home office. Close your eyes and really get into that space.
Answer the following questions:
Size: How big (or small) is your office?
Light: How much light is there? Are there windows?
Color: What color are the walls? Are they muted or bold? Are they textured or patterned (like with wallpaper or wainscoting)?
Structure: What’s your desk like? Is it a simple-yet-functional Nordic style or is it an antique mahogany desk? Is it clean or cluttered? Is there a bookshelf? If so, what books or magazines are on it?
Accessories: Do you have art or photos on your desk or walls? If so, what kind of art is it? Do you have accessories with your company logo on them?
Atmosphere: How does your office space make you feel? How does your desk make you feel? How do your books, art, and other accessories make you feel?
Can you sum up the overall qualities of your ideal office space in 3-5 words?
Congratulations, you’ve just defined your tone words and you didn’t have to do any kind of “branding” worksheets or even think about your website.
- Not great at interior design? (I’m right there with you! I just want to walk into an Ikea and say, “give me that room” because I can’t handle all the decorating details).
- It’s okay, you can do a version of this exercise with your wardrobe, if clothing is your thing. Or maybe you’re an art connoisseur: so you take a look at the kind of art you most resonate with and pull out those 3-5 values (or feeling words).
These become the “tone words” that will inform every decision you make moving forward (both for your copy and your visuals).
Take my site, for example. My tone words are “creative”, “rebellious”, “fresh”, “feminine”, and “empowering”. Once I had those words chosen, I used them to create a mood board that would form the basis of my brand image. But it all started with feeling into my values.
OK, so now you’ve got your “tone words” – those values or feelings that will form the basis of your brand. And now I’m going to walk you through...
How I use those tone words or values to create a mood board.
If you're a little hazy on what exactly a mood board is, here’s the definition according to Google: “an arrangement of images, materials, pieces of text, etc., intended to evoke or project a particular style or concept.”
Alright, let’s get started:
1. Open Pinterest - we’re going to be doing some strategic searching + pinning
2. Set up a secret board to use as your mood board
3. We’re going to go through a series of search + scroll maneuvers to cover each of your tone words. (Where you’ll scroll through the results and pin images to your secret board.) If possible, AVOID pinning images of other websites, look for colors, layout, fonts, textures, and other graphic elements that represent your tone word.
- Starting with your first tone word, go to the Pinterest search bar and type “[tone word #1] design”, then perform the search-and-scroll maneuver described in step #3.
- Next, we’ll search again (with the same tone word but a different modifying word) so we’ll type “[tone word #1] style” into the search bar and proceed with pinning.
- Repeat this process with “[tone word #1] interior” as your search.
- Search again with “[tone word #1] posters”.
- Lastly, you can try searching with “[tone word #1] colors” and/or “[tone word #1] fonts”.
4. Go through the tasks from step #3 again with any remaining tone words. (NOTE: You might not find pinnable images in each of these searches, that’s why I have you try so many variations).
5. At the end of the search-scroll-pin process, you’ll probably have 30-50 pins in your secret mood board, which is way too many!
- Try to narrow that down to 8-10 by removing pins that evoke a similar feel and making sure that each image brings a unique value to the overall mood board. This part can be hard to know what to cut away.
6. What I’ve done is to label each pinned image with the tone words that it represents (by writing in the pin’s description).
So I’ll have some that are labeled rebellious, some that are labeled creative, some that are labeled fresh, and some that blur the lines that are both creative and rebellious, for example.
The idea with this narrowing down is that, by the end of it, I have 1 pinned image per tone word and then 1 image for each blended tone (like creative and rebellious).
Here’s a look at my completed mood board. I’ve included the tone words at the bottom and pulled out the colors I want to use (don’t worry about colors right now, we’ll get to that in 2 weeks).
The reason that I have you define your brand words right now is because they’re the foundation of everything you will write or create under this brand. BEFORE you can write really captivating copy, you need to be clear on the kind of atmosphere and experience that you want to create, which is why I take you through this exercise.
What we learned today:
That our style values extend beyond the screen and are the same across mediums.
The “Dream Office” exercise for easily defining our style values or feelings.
How to systematically create a Pinterest mood board using my strategic search-and-scroll maneuver.
That, before you can write captivating copy, you need to clarify your values.
So far in this #WebPrepChecklist series we’ve covered:
Discovering your brand values – that's this post 😉
Next up, we’re going to talk about my secret weapon for both writing and designing webpages.