Welcome to the Creating a Visual Brand blog series. Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing with you some of my best tips and tricks for creating a visual brand.
The series includes: creating an inspiration board, color palette, pairing fonts, creating an unforgettable logo design and turning a logo into a visual brand identity. You can read the full Creating a Visual Brand series here.
In this post, I will share with you step-by-step how to create an inspiration board and why your business needs one. Let’s jump in!
Why do you need an inspiration board?
Inspiration boards are the foundation of your visual identity.
The initial steps in creating a brand or business includes a lot of planning and drafting of ideas. If you already have your business plan, you are well aware that all those words, plans and ideas aren't going to help you choose a color palette or pair fonts. That's where an inspiration board comes in!
A misconception about creating an inspiration board is that you make it just to get inspired. Obviously, an inspiration board is for inspiration, but it’s also created as a reference guide.
People commonly think the best brand resource is your brands style guide. I have found that a brand guide doesn’t help me create new content for my brand or my clients brands. It helps me reference the proper hex codes and fonts.
The inspiration board is where I get that spark of creativity. Let's create your inspiration board!
step 1 | Inspiration
Although you can find inspiration anywhere, I suggest using Pinterest. Pinterest is a visual platform with great work examples and imagery to help you curate your brands visual identity.
In order to use Pinterest as a visual inspiration tool, rather than a recipe and craft hoarding tool, I’m going to share with you a few key strategies.
First, create a secret Pinterest board. Technically, it doesn’t have to be a secret Pinterest board but, I think it’s more fun to keep your branding process on a need-to-know basis.
Next, start pinning images that are reflective of your ideal brand and attract your ideal audience. If you are stuck on what you want your ideal brand to be, I suggest you select 10 brand adjectives to represent your ideal brand. From there, you can measure up each pin against those adjectives.
I suggest not including brand boards, logos or website pins. This can lead you to imitate designs rather than create your own.
I suggest looking at general images that speak to you. For example: clothes, patterns, textures and quotes. When you find a pin you like view the suggested pins below it. This will help you easily find similar images and graphics.
Step 2 | Look for patterns and consistency
After you've pinned 20-50+ pins, it's time to start narrowing down your content. You may have already noticed patterns and similar color palettes while you were pinning. In step two, we want to intentionally hone in on these patterns.
Begin scanning the board you’ve created and think about why you chose that pin. What about it spoke to you?
Let's look at the snapshot of the Pinterest account below. As you can see, there is a lot of white, creams and brown colors. It appears that they should play a dominant role in this inspiration board. These images also have ample white space and soft textures, which should play a role. Lastly, there are a few splashes of blue which can be a playful accent piece.
These are the types of patterns and consistencies you should keep an eye out for with your Pinterest board.
Step 3 | Choose your favorite images
It's time to pick your favorite images to include in your inspiration board. Although you may love all of the images in your secret Pinterest board, you should only select the highlights for your inspiration board since an inspiration board will inspire your future design projects.
You may need to play with a few image combinations before your board looks just right. I suggest downloading 10 to 20 images for optimal flexibility during the pairing process. Don't be too harsh on yourself during this process, just pair and play with combinations until it feels "right".
To get started on pairing, you have a few options: Adobe templates, Canva or a wall and some tape.
First, Adobe templates. These are great to be used again and again for the tech-savvy group and they offer the most flexibility with layouts and designs.
Second, Canva can help the more technologically challenged. Canva only offers a small amount of templates for inspiration boards, so you may be interested in purchasing a few Canva-ready templates.
Lastly, you can break out the tape. Taping images on your wall is definitely the least high-tech, but I think it can provide the most inspiration if you keep it near your desk while you work.
Related: Photoshop and Canva Templates
Once you’ve created your inspiration board view how the overall message communicates with you. Is it still reflecting those brand adjectives? If not, remove images and play around until you get it right. Take your time and go back to the drawing board as much as you need to.
This will be your reference for everything we do moving forward so keep it handy!
Read Part 2: Creating a Color Palette
What are your tips for creating an inspiration board? Have you run into any issues in the process? Let me know in the comments section!