Visual Vocab 01: Fresh, Feminine + Adventurous Mood Board


Throughout the process of taking on more branding projects these past few months, I’ve found that one of my favorite parts of the entire process is collaborating with my clients on their 3-5 brand tone words.

If any of you have been following along from the beginning, you know I have a tendency to be a tad bit long-winded. I can’t help it – I love words! I adore how one word can carry with it SO much below the surface! Moods, perceived meanings, connotations… words are so much more than, well, words.

Anyway, that’s probably why I love coming up with these brand tone words. I use these 3-5 words in combination with one another to guide the look and feel of the entire brand I’m creating, and I choose them very, very carefully. I also find it challenging in the best way because it’s not the words individually that help form the final vision; it’s their collective feeling. For example… “vintage” might immediately bring to my mind one image (an eclectic attic of sepia-toned artifacts?), but balance “vintage” with “simple” and it changes that image (scratch the cluttered attic; I’m thinking a plain red hat box with a pair of white gloves resting on top). Once more, throw together “vintage,” “simple,” AND “youthful” and now I’m envisioning something completely different (a solid-colored bright orange tin lunchbox.) Kind of a fun game, right?

I have some branding projects in the works that will have mood boards for me to share, but until then I thought it might be fun to choose three random tone words and share a quick mood board inspired by the collective group of those words. I’ll consider it practice, and if there are any aspiring designers out there, hopefully these posts will serve to expand your visual vocab. 

Below is a copy of my “Visual Vocabulary Word Bank” that I give to my clients when they fill out their Brand Exploration Questionnaire. I’ve found that simply asking someone to come up with their own tone words returns a lot of  ”modern, clean, and professional” which is fine, but it doesn’t really offer up a specific direction for me to take things. I think going through each word and then selecting 3-5 helps them determine what they do and don’t connect with and what is important to them aesthetically.


(I’m constantly looking for new additions to the list so if you think I left any out, please leave them in the comments!!)

Today’s three random words are: Fresh, adventurous, and feminine. (Quite fitting for the beginning of a new year, if you ask me.)

To give you some insight on my process, this exercise is a mini-version of what I do for my clients. A lot of times I start out with a gut reaction in my mind (I realize that phrase doesn’t make a TON of sense but I think my creative friends will get what I mean) and I sort of meditate on these words as I scour my libraries of saved images. Then, as I go through, I pull out anything that feels like it speaks to my three words and my initial vision. From there I can start to see a pattern emerge, and my original vision starts to evolve and become much clearer and more defined. That’s when I really narrow down the direction, pick the images that are most representative of that direction, pull together a corresponding color palette, and voila – a mood board is born!


Succulent / Do What You Love / Wildflowers / Follow Your Gut / Ashley Goldberg Abstract / Mountains / Thrive In Truth

In this board specifically you can see what I mean when I say it’s the combination of the words that informs the mood. “Fresh” by itself might have directed me to some brighter hues, but when combined with “adventurous” and “feminine” the palette becomes softer and a bit more earthy for me. The teal and green speak to feminine botanicals and majestic waves. The pink and peach could be fresh wildflowers or the colors of a sunset after a long day’s adventure. So there ya have it – my interpretation of fresh, feminine and adventurous!

Let me know if this is something you might enjoy seeing here on the blog, or if you would interpret the brand tone words differently!