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Visualizing your Brand or Product Creating Mood Boards

In this episode, we take you through a mind setting exercises where we will imagine the experience of going to buy a coffee.


Let's talk about this process for actually creating a board, a mood board, right? What does that process actually look like? In general, I like to do an exercise before I actually go in and start collecting images. Now, you could say, "What is the process like? Straightforward?" You go and grab images, you go and collage the images together, and then you put it into a PDF deck, or you print them out and you share it and you talk about it. That's the process, right?

But I think about this in a different way, and maybe a little abstract, and the exercise that I do when I, working with students, especially, and when I start to talk about clients and sit down with a client, for example, if they're creating a restaurant is I try to get a sense of what they're imagining and to get them to start speaking in the way somewhat like a designer would do and visualizing that and so the best way to do that is this room exercise, and I've been doing this maybe for, I don't know, six years now or so, in the way I think about a room.

Start it out, imagine you are in a room. Now, you're like, "Hey, I'm in a room right now, obviously." I assume you're probably in a room, but take it a little bit further, let's abstract it, spread it out a little bit out. Think about your market, who is your user, right? You might've made personas already, and if you don't know what personas are, check out our video series on personas, but imagine your user. I'm going to take Starbucks. I usually go with Starbucks as an example because most people know Starbucks.

Starbucks, imagine now maybe you're a student, or your market's a student and you're in your bed and you wake up, and so now what I want you to do is actually do this with me. I know you're watching a YouTube video here right now and you're like, "Why am I doing this?" but do it with me here. I want you to close your eyes and keep them real shut, nice and closed, and now I want you to imagine, go along this journey with me as we get a sense of this process and visualizing what we imagine.

Okay, so you're in your bed. You just woke up. Think about how you feel. You just woke up. Are you energized? Are you excited to take on the day? Are you really tired? You worked a lot last night. Maybe you only got a couple hours, maybe you only got three or four hours of sleep last night, and you're tired. You need to get something, a pick-me-up, you need something, so you get up, you get ready. What does that process look like for you, right? What is it like? Do you put on your slippers? Do you go to the bathroom first? Do you go make some breakfast first? What is that process? Really, think about what does that look like for you. You jump in the shower, you get ready, you pick out your clothes. You're like, "Ugh, so exhausted," or are you energized and you're like, "I need a coffee. Ugh, I desperately need a coffee"?

Now, keep those eyes closed. All right, so now you go over to, do you get in your car or do you get on your scooter or do you call an Uber? How are you getting around? Think about that for your market. Let's bring this back to reality for a second. Think about your market. How does your market get to your store location? How do they get around? How do they navigate? Have they checked their social media accounts already this morning? What did they check it in bed? Did they read their emails already? Are they responding to text messages? Are they worried? Do they feel like they don't have enough time or do they feel like they're calm and everything's okay? What is those feelings that they have?

Now, you get them to that location. We're going to Starbucks in this instance, right? What Starbucks did they go to? They go to the closest location, I assume, to get there. In this case, they parked their car, they got out of their car, and they shut the door. Think about what kind of car do they have, right? That tells you about that market. Who is that person? Now, you walk into this. Now, is this you? Is this somebody else? How are you imagining this? You walk into the Starbucks. Well, think about the storefront already. Where is this? What does the building look like? What color is the building? Is it wood? Is it glass? Is it stucco?

Now, you grab the door. Is there a big logo on the sign? What is that sign, right? What is that? What color is it? What's its form, its shape? You open the door. What's on the door. Is it a glass door? Is it a wood door? What's the handle feel like? You open the door and you walk in. What do you smell, right? What is that sense? What do you smell? Breathe it in there, right? What is it? Is that a good smell? Is that a bad smell? You look down. What's on the floor? Is it carpet? Is it tile? Is it wood? What color is it? What color is the grout between the tiles, right? It's those little details like that. All of this is making up that brand for this business.

All right, track your eyes up a little closer, a little bit higher up, right? Is there a line of people in there? What's the atmosphere in the room like? Is it loud? Is there music playing? Is it quiet? How do you feel? Are you uncomfortable? Are you excited? Are you worried? What is this feeling like? All right, you take a couple steps forward. What do you see? You might be looking at the signage now on the back and scanning the room. What color is the walls painted? What sort of decoration or art is on the walls? What patterns do you see? All right, do you see a menu? What's the typeface? Why is it that typeface? Do you feel like that typeface matches with this? Does it work in that space? What are those textures on the menu? How do they use color?

You walk a couple steps forward now. The person greets you. What do they say to you? Do they say, "Hey, hello, welcome to Starbucks," or how are they actually greeting you? What do you respond to them? Do you know what you're getting already? Is it automatic? Do you have your phone out? Is there some sort of app and interaction that it's about to happen with your phone and your device? Can you play upon that as a brand?

Now, you order your item. How is that item named? Does that make sense? I hope your eyes are closed still, because your eyes should be closed imagining this space. Really, start to visualize what it's like to be at a Starbucks or what it's like to be at your brand, your restaurant, your office. What does that visually look like? You order your item. Now, where do you go, right? You've done your order, but now you need to maybe find a place to stand, right? This is always kind of awkward at different restaurants and cafes. You might be taking it to go or are you sitting in with it? Do you have anything with you? Are you bringing your laptop or a book? Are you going to be setting up there or are you going to try to get out of there fast? How does that change the interaction? How does the brand adapt to facilitate you in that way, in that space?

Okay, so now you move over to the side here, you're waiting for your order. How does that process work? Are they going to say your name? Do you have a number? Are you holding something in your hand? Do you have a piece of paper? What is that like? You're scanning the room, too, observing people. They call your name, you go up and you grab your cup of coffee. You look at that. Your name is handwritten on that cup of coffee. Does that feel an added benefit or is it done differently than that? Did they spell your name wrong? Is there some sort of brand interaction? You pick up your cup and you have coffee, or maybe you ordered a croissant or something like that or a cookie, and you leave now, let's say. You get back into your car and now you're in your car and you drive away. Now, you think about that brand experience. What was that like? Did I enjoy that experience? What could have been better about that experience?

Open your eyes. When you take in a brand and you imagine a room in an experience like that, try to imagine that from your user persona, essentially your user, from the beginning to the end of the interaction, as well as a retrospective that that user may have. For example, you might send them an email or a survey to follow-up to say, "How was your experience?" You might throw in something like 10% off or a 15% off once they fill out that survey so you get a better sense of how they enjoyed that experience and you can assess your brand.

When I go through this process, I think about them in these five senses, right? The touch, the smell, right? We didn't play too much into the touch in that example, but the taste is: How does the food taste? The smell: What does it smell like in there, right? Sometimes you're at a restaurant and it just doesn't smell right. You're like, "Ugh, what is that smell?" and sometimes you're at a restaurant and it smells like bacon or something amazing and you're like, "This is wonderful. I must know what that smell is. I want to order that item and it smells so wonderful." Of course, what we hear, like the atmosphere of the people talking and the sound and the music that might be playing that music that's playing, right? Have you ever been to at a restaurant or a store and they're playing some music and you're like, "This doesn't make any sense. Why are they playing that?" Music can speak so much to a brand and to culture of the atmosphere that your brand is in.

Once you've done this exercise and you have that visual image of what you imagined this to be, that next step is collecting, and that's actually going and finding the resources or the images that's going to make up that vibe. That thing that you imagined, how do you now go in and create it? You need to go to various sites to do that. Now, here's a couple that I've listed out: Design Inspiration, Behance, and The Inspiration Grid. Of course, Pinterest is probably the biggest player now in this space. You can find almost anything on Pinterest, right? There's so many billions of images on there.

You're going to start looking for images that match up what you visualized and think about them in the five keywords there: textures, colors, images, type, and pattern. Those five things right, now, those are all visual. If you can get the visuals down, take it beyond, and maybe when pitching to your client, not only the visuals, but you might also pitch some smells and some music or sound, the atmosphere for them to better capture that space that they're in. That's what you're after. That's what you want to go in and create.

In the next episode, I'm going to take some images and show you a tool,, on how you can easily go in and create one of these mood boards.