The Mood Board: Establishing Brand Personality

The mood board is a tourism marketing device we use at Wanderlust to help establish the personality and visual identity of travel and tourism brands. The mood board is a combination of photographs, graphics and words on a single panel that reflect the desired brand position (rather than the current position). Together these elements provide an illustrated example of the brand position, imparting the energy, mood and spirit of a destination, resort or attraction.

Elements of a brand mood board:

Photos that convey a destination’s spirit or energy, and reflect visual content likely to appear in marketing communications.

Text that helps express mood and personality: usually limited to 3 to 6 carefully chosen words that define a feeling, a way of behaving, or a characteristic attitude of the destination.

Graphic elements, including iconography, color palettes and typography, that foreshadow the brand image and formal brand identity program.

Mood boards are very helpful in defining, explaining and building out a new brand position. First, for getting buy-in and approval of positioning initiatives: If the mood board captures the feel of a place, if it’s a believable representation of what a destination can offer, and above all, if it’s desirable and exciting, then it is likely a successful position.

Secondly, mood boards can help communicate the brand to frontline staff. Presenting with words and images they can relate to and easily remember helps them find ways to express the brand position in their interactions with customers.

And finally, mood boards are excellent decision-support tools, offering a visual measuring stick that can be help up against creative executions. Mood boards are the acid test for whether communications are on-brand or off-brand. Does a new ad or brochure capture the look and feel of the mood board? Does it support the position and promise of value?

In a world of subjective opinions about design and communication, the mood board can provide an objective tool to help you make important decisions.