An In-depth Look at My Branding Process - Part 2: Inspiration Boards


And free inspiration board templates!

We started diving into my design process a few of weeks ago, focussing on the discovery phase of the project - from coffee date to my comprehensive Brand Discovery Workbook that gets to the very heart of your brand. This week I’ll break down the first step I take in this visual and branding journey.

An In-depth Look at My Branding Process - Part 2: Inspiration Boards. And free inspiration board templates. Click through to download now.

My Brand Discovery Workbook is comprised of 2 chapters, Let’s Get Real and Let’s Get Specific (PS you can download Let’s Get Real for free right here!). While the first part is all about defining who you are, what you do best and where you’re going, part 2 really allows you to get visual. At the outset, I ask my clients to make a secret Pinterest board and fill the board with the exercises I’ve developed. This means they’re pinning images that represent their dream clients, things that make their eyes sparkle and heart skip a beat and gut inspirations of colour, texture and type treatment.

When they’re done with the workbook, they send me an invite to collaborate on their board and I get to peek inside the very soul of their business. And often, especially when I’m working with a friend I know well, it’s an honest and raw representation of them through images. It’s a lightbulb moment that has the potential to teach you things about yourself and I recommend it as an exercise no matter where you find yourself in your business or branding journey.

Anyway, I digress! I’m allowed access to their secret board and their hard work always blows me away. After a Skype meeting to go through the workbook and make sure we’re both on the same page, I head over to Pinterest and start gathering inspiration. I look at the board as a whole and take note of the mood, colours and textures that prevail. I weigh them up against the values and tone that guides their brand and pick the strongest images out.

After my careful image selection, I start a new InDesign document and curate an inspiration board. The images are placed together in a variety of sizes and orientations, carefully balancing the mood, colours and texture. I then add in swatches of solid colour taken from the images to start building up a colour palette that will be taken through to their branding.

I always create 2 options for my clients as the board, although being primarily one thing or another, can always go in more than one direction. While the overall mood in the below inspiration boards is the same, the palette on the left is cooler than the right. The use of type is more inky and organic on the left and more structured and classically feminine on the right.

Inspiration Board for Lacquered Living, curated by Freckled Design Studio
Inspiration Board for Lacquered Living, curated by Freckled Design Studio

PS these are for a dear friend whose going through a serious brand overhaul to launch her VA and Makeup Artist business. Keep an eye on the blog for the full brand reveal in the next few weeks! Interested in seeing the final product? See it here.

Why Inspiration Boards?

Words are abstract ideas and concepts and ensuring my client and myself are on the same page this way can be difficult. With hundreds of takes on “minimalist and feminine” what I am envisioning might very well differ from her and a misunderstanding will result in plenty of frustration for both of us down the line (and far too many artwork revisions).

By creating a visual guide that lays the foundation of the brand styling project, we can be certain we’re on the same page at every turn. We’re setting parameters for typography, colours and mood and we’re setting a standard for the patterns, textures and alternate marks to be designed.

And since this is the first step of our project and I allow for 2 revisions, the inspiration board is complete by Day 2 and handed over to my client. With another 8 days of design still to come, they can use it as the basis for choosing stock photography for their brand, share it with their followers to generate a bit of excitement and hype or simply use it to create an on-brand capsule wardrobe (I totally did this!).

Overall, as a start of a visual journey, I have found through experience and feedback that this step is crucial and fun! Do we really need another reason to create beautiful inspiration boards?

And if you’re feeling inspired by all this talk of inspiration, why don’t you make one yourself? I’ve designed 3 templates to get you started so go wild. Create one for your existing brand, for your living room renovation project or wedding! Tonnes of fun and a wonderful excuse to exercise a bit of creativity and pinning.

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Have you worked with a designer and found the inspiration board at the beginning of the project super helpful? Or are you a designer that finds this method of creating a visual foundation essential? What's your inspiration board process? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!