Cutting Clients Out Of The Moodboard Curation Process

Before creating a moodboard, I used to invite my clients to a shared Pinterest board and have them curate brand imagery that highlighted typography, tone, and color, so that I could see what they "liked" before digging in. The results? Not so great. You see, the majority of my clients don't have a background in typography or color and simply refer to what they know or what they have already seen. And because of this, I often received a slew of imagery that felt disconnected or unhelpful, leaving me with even more questions than where I began.

Frustrated, I reimagined that part of my process and wondered what it would be like to curate the imagery for moodboards myself. It was a scary consideration at first, simply because I worried I wouldn't be able to fully understand what my clients "like." But as soon as those doubts crossed my mind, clarity swept in. As a designer, my priority, first and foremost, is to solve a problem and design for my client's audience. Not to design for the sake of making things pretty or becoming the all too common pixel pusher. I was making it easy for my clients to let subjective opinions get in the way of what's right for their brand. And those beautifully composed pin boards I was expecting to receive tanked because it's MY job to curate, not theirs.

As soon as this realization came to fruition, my confidence kicked in as well. I have the experience to dig in and understand my client's brand. And from there, I have the know how to translate their message and goals into thoughtful visuals. Because of this, there's simply no need for them to get involved in the inspiration collection process, which I realize is a fairly bold statement to make.

There are so many designers out there that LOVE collaborating with their clients on this step. And while I'm sure it works out just fine for most, I would encourage you to think about the times that it hasn't. The times where you had to remind a client that what they pulled was "trendy" or "not inline with their brand's mission." Or for the times when you had to jump on a call to thoroughly explain all of this, potentially wasting a few hours that could have been avoided in the first place. Does any of this ring a bell? It certainly does for me.

Nowadays, I let my client's questionnaire guide their moodboard. For example, if their brand needs to convey a strong presence, I may explore typography that's bolder. Or if they're appealing to a more luxurious market, we may keep the palette neutral. The intuition you have as a designer will take you far, I promise. So listen to it. ;)

For those of you who are interested in switching to this new approach, but feel nervous about the results, here is some reassurance: the moodboards I curate and develop for my clients have never been approved faster, or more on message, than they are now. They're beautiful and succinct. But most importantly, they allow me to establish myself as a professional they can trust, right from the very beginning.

Simply put, being able to translate your client's thoughts and goals into visuals is almost like magic to them. So make it feel like Christmas morning. ;)

Now, I don't just hand over a moodboard and say "this is what it's going to be and that's that." Instead, I'll ask my clients to review and let me know if anything feels off (and if so, why). This fosters the beginning of a positive collaboration, while also encouraging them to be mindful of what they request. And if their suggestion is for the better of the brand (and audience), I'm happy to oblige. If not, we'll talk it through and make sure that both parties are in agreement before moving forward.

So what do you say? Is this something that you're going to try out next time? If so, please come back and let me know how it goes! Or if you've found tons of success with shared Pinterest boards, I'd be curious to hear more about your specific approach in the comments section below!

DesignBreanna Rose21 Comments