Are you struggling to create your perfect brand or communicate your vision to a designer? It could be that you’re lacking the foundation of a strong inspiration board.
What is an Inspiration Board?
Your Inspiration Board defines the visual limits of your brand. It pulls together various lifestyle images, patterns, textures and colors in a way that correctly translates the intangible emotions you want associated with your brand, into tangible imagery you can use as a reference point when designing your brand visuals. (logo, website, etc)
Your Inspiration Board takes the entire universe of possible design inspiration and creates your own little world to pull inspiration from. It defines and narrows the scope of what your brand is and what it is not. Now your little world should not be completely homogeneous. Be sure that your inspiration board is as varied as all the facets of your brands personality.
Why is creating a strong Inspiration Board so important?
We all perceive the world just a little bit differently. There are many ways to communicate “happy” or “trustworthy” with visuals. Being able to point to an image as the most fitting way to communicate “happy” for your unique brand is where the Inspiration board shines.
I also use the Inspiration Board to make sure my client and I are on the same page. If their business is positioned as a classy, luxury brand and then pin a bunch of pictures of farm life, there’s clearly been a miscommunication somewhere that needs to be sorted out before we get to the “logo-sketching” phase.
You can double check your own Inspiration Board by asking people in your target audience how it makes them feel and what their impressions are. If they use any of the words or emotions that you want your brand to convey, then you’re on the right track.
How can you use Pinterest to create the perfect Inspiration Board?
This is the part of the process where a lot of people get stuck. They just don’t know what to pin and their brand inspiration board ends up looking like a jumble of their favorite things. If this sounds familiar don’t worry, there’s a way out!
Be sure to create a "secret board" pinboard for your brand. If you need help creating a secret pin board check out this tutorial from Pinterest.
Here’s a list of items that you should be pinning:
- Color Pallets
- Brand collateral (business cards, brochures, etc,)
- Most importantly – Lifestyle Images.
This is a substantial list but still pretty general.
If you searched Pinterest for “logo” it would spit dozens upon dozens of logos back at you, which is not super helpful to defining your brand.
To narrow your search parameters, grab your Branding Questionnaire. Look at the list of adjectives and emotions in your Questionnaire that you determined would fit your brand personality and interact well with your target audience.
Search for some images of those emotions. Maybe you want your customers to feel safe and secure or cared-for when they interact with your business – search those terms and see if any of the images “fit.” Now use some of those words in conjunction with the items you need to pin. For example: maybe your brand needs to be cheerful and bubbly; search for “cheerful logo” or “happy typeface.”
This strategy works particularly well for finding lifestyle images. Searching for just an emotion should get you some strong images. To make sure your emotion images line up with your target audience, turn to the part of your Brand Questionnaire where you described your ideal client. You should have a pretty good description of who they are, what they do, where they hang out, and what brands they already frequent. Search all these terms and pin the images you like.
If your target audience is men in their 30’s who purchase luxury items and frequent museums, then your search phrases might look like: “classic car museum,” “Rolex model,” or “man yachting.” It may seem silly at first, but use as many descriptors as you can and then remove them if your search isn’t turning up enough images.
Here’s an interesting side-bar: when searching for “man yachting” the search returned much darker, sleeker imagery than when I just searched for “yachting.” Try many different search phrases to find the images that fit.
Searching like this does 2 things:
1. It narrows your search results to those that should be most relevant
2. It can show you very quickly if you’re on the wrong track. If searching for “cheerful logo” brings up images you hate, then you may need to rethink some of your brands core values.
Note on pinning: Pin at least 5 images for each item. Ideally you would pin more, but if you're strapped for time, 5 should be enough. You can’t over pin at this point. Make sure you’re pinning everything to the same board on your Pinterest profile. Don’t sort out the various items into separate pinboards; you need to look at all the images holistically.
Once you’ve finished pinning take a long hard look at your board. Look for patterns in your images. This pattern may be an actual pattern or color or shape or style. Once you’ve identified those items that seem to go together, move them to a separate board and see what you think. You want to narrow it down to about 10 images (mostly lifestyle images, but at least one of every category).
To make a board that you can keep or send to a designer, download your main images and either import them into Canva.com and use one of their “Grid” templates. OR arrange your items in your design software.
You can find an excellent tutorial on how to do this in “How To Make an Inspiration Board with Pinterest, Coolors and Canva” by Lexi Merrit from Vandelay Design.
That’s all there is to it! Download your free Brand Defining Questionnaire and get started! Have fun with this stage of the design process and don’t over-think it!