Whether you’re an entrepreneur with your first startup, working for a corporation, or if you’re a hard worker with 5 different side hustles; your content, story, & style must truly reflect your brand voice & personality.

Don’t leave your brand open to various customisations & interpretations. Leave no room for mistakes. Remember, your clients are only interested in working with the best – the best consultants, strategists, or artists – so when they line you up against the competition, how do you stand out? Your style is what they’ll remember & your competitors won’t be able to compete with that.

You won’t get a second chance to make a good first impression, so make it one that will help you stand out, reflect who you are, & build trust. If you’re looking for effective tools to help you communicate your message, you should consider mood boards & style guides.

Mood boards & style guides play a crucial part in communicating your brand’s identity. They keep things organised for yourself & provides consistency for your target audience.

moodboard vs style guide

What is a Mood Board?

A mood board is a powerful tool when visualising & building your brand identity. Essentially, it is a collage of visual elements combined to display a cohesive & distinct theme. Its purpose is to capture the overall feel & look of your brand, giving it its own unique personality.

When creating a mood board, start by gathering items that represent the essence of how your brand looks & feels – everything from objects, brands, colours, clothes, quotes – anything that symbolises these features. Also, think about your ideal client when creating your mood board.

  • Who are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • What do they like to do?
  • What’s important to them?
  • Where do they shop?

Creating a mood board can help you establish & visualize your brand story, identity, ideal customer, & all of the details that go into it. Plus, having a visual representation can help simplify the process & keep you inspired.

Having a mood board can also:

  • It can help you illustrate a concept
  • It can help you develop branding & brand strategy
  • Convey the essence of a brand rather than focusing on the nuts & bolts
  • Communicate how you want clients to feel
  • Amid changing trends, it can help you stay true to your personal style

What is a Style Guide?

A style guide is an outline of established guidelines on how all aspects of your brand identity should be handled & presented. It includes everything from your visual assets, such as your fonts, colours, & logo to the tone of voice, values, & purpose.

A style guide serves as a guide that employees, web designers, and marketers can use to ensure that the correct message is being communicated – it ensures brand consistency with everything from design to content.

A style guide helps build a strong brand voice that resonates with audiences for better brand awareness. When consistent, that awareness can build trust in your brand.

Here are some items you may want to include in your style guide:

  • Your brand story (e.g. brand mission, identity, voice)
  • Your logo and logo colours
  • Your brand colours
  • Your brand fonts
  • Your writing style
  • Your branding elements & design standards (e.g. typefaces, color palette, etc.)

A style guide distinguishes your distinct values & separates your brand from your competitors. Having a style guide can also support marketing & branding initiatives by ensuring all messaging is relevant & related to brand goals.

moodboard on wall

Example of a moodboard: how you want people to feel about your brand

ontraport style guide

Ontraport’s style guide: the rules for how you want you brand to look.

Mood Boards & Style Guides: What Do They Have in Common?

What do mood boards & style guides have in common?

  • Both mood boards & style guides play a crucial role in communicating your brand’s identity, promoting a consistent dialogue, & aligning future goals.
  • Both are effective in expressing your personality, defining the standards that you want, establishing a point of reference, & setting the look & feel of your brand.

Which One Do You Need?

Confused which one you need to use?

  • A mood board is what you want to achieve with branding.
  • A style guide is how you get there.
  • Start with a mood board – once you know how you want clients to feel, you can create a style guide to outline how to make it happen.

Final Thoughts

Mood boards & style guides are important in creating a cohesive design style for any project. Spending sufficient time on creating your mood board & style guide can result in a project that runs more smoothly.

With mood boards & style guides, you can collect your ideas, thoughts, moods, and design ideas in one place & define a coherent design concept without the risk of losing sight of the bigger picture.