Your brand’s mood is how your brand makes your audience feel. Establishing the right mood is incredibly important for attracting the right people to your business.
Think about this: how would you feel if your bank felt playful & fun. Sure, you might enjoy the experience of going to the bank more, but would you feel safe keeping your life savings there? Probably not. When people are looking for a bank, they’re looking for a bank that feels established & professional.
Or, if you were choosing a day care for your kis, would you choose the one that felt sleek & refined, or the one that felt warm & inviting?
So if you're feeling the need to evaluate and possibly reposition your brand or you're developing your brand and want to make sure you're setting the right mood, I've put together a few tips to use as a starting place.
Just to be clear; defining a mood for your visual brand is a very subtle art, and there's a lot that could be said on the subject, so these tips are just the basics to get you started thinking about mood.
Most fonts can be broken down to a few different families: serif, san serif, and script. Those categories can be broken down even further: slab serif, neoclassical, old style, etc. Then beyond that you can consider different weights of fonts.
Serif fonts have a feel of age and classicism to them and are often associated with traditional forms of media, such as newspapers, books and magazines.
Moods created by serif fonts: classic, academic, respectable, knowledgeable, established, intellectual, old-fashioned
San Serif Fonts
San serif fonts are the most versatile fonts; in general, they make less of a statement than other categories of fonts. This makes them great for instances when you want the focus on your copy rather than your font choice. San serif fonts are also associated with all things modern.
Moods created by san serif fonts: modern, simple, clean
Script fonts are all about humanity. They can vary from neat & detailed to loose & messy, but all scripts reflect a human touch. Script fonts are great at making a brand feel more personal.
Moods created by script fonts: intimate, feminine, personal, friendly, casual, elegant, classy
Color theory is a fascinating study with many applications. Each color invokes certain moods, and the saturation and value of the colors can shift that mood.
Hues are what we think of when we say "color" - such as red, yellow, or blue. Hue is related to the dominant wavelength of light.
Moods created by red: passionate, angry, loving, intense
Moods created by orange: hungry, stimulating, enthusiastic
Moods created by yellow: happy, energetic, bright, lively
Moods created by green: lively, fresh, healthy
Moods created by blue: relaxing, calm, peaceful
Moods created by purple: luxurious, sensual, wise, mysterious
Saturation is also sometimes called intensity or vibrance. It describes how rich or colorful a color is.
Moods created by high saturation colors: energetic, bright, motivated, young
Moods created by low saturation colors: calm, mature, soft
Value describes the lightness of a color. It’s easy to find the value of a color – just make an image black & white – if the color turns white or light gray, its high value. If it turns dark gray or black, it’s low value.
Moods created by high value colors: soft, inviting, feminine
Moods created by low value colors: intimate, rich
Shapes are what you learned they are in preschool: squares, triangles, circles, etc.
Rectangles are used most often in design, and are the most versatile, but because of their prominence, are almost always neutral when it comes to mood. For that reason, I'll focus on other shapes.
Moods created by circles and round shapes: feminine, balanced, friendly
Moods created by triangles: action, movement
Moods created by polygons: modern, varied, multi-faceted
The best demonstration of low white space are those grocery-store ads that everyone gets in the mail, and no one wants. The ads are crammed with dozens of photos, prices, and deals, and your eyes have nowhere to rest. This is an example of low white space – there’s simply not much breathing room in the design.
Moods created by low white space: cheap, low-brow, casual
Moods created by high white space: elegant, expensive, refined
Contrast is the amount of difference between things. Black and white have high contrast. White and pale pink have low contrast. It extends beyond colors, as well – for example, a high contrast font pairing could be a heavy serif with a light, airy san serif.
Moods created by high contrast: energetic, modern
Moods created by low contrast: calming, soft
I just wanted to touch on copy really quick here at the end. Even though copy isn’t part of your visual brand, it is the voice of your brand, so make sure it compliments your visual brand. You wouldn’t want to curate a calm, relaxing brand then have your brand voice be yelling at your audience. Yikes.
Set the Right Mood to Attract the Right People
So those are the basics! I hoped that helped you to start thinking about what mood you want your visual brand to portray. Visual branding is so much more than making something pretty - it's about making something pretty AND effective.
Challenge: Use What You Read
Reading an article does nothing for you until you use what you learned. I challenge you to really boil down your brand's mood to three words. A good starting place is to ask yourself, "How would I want my customers/clients to describe my business?"
I would love to hear what you come up with! Your three words are a powerful starting place for creating a cultivating an impactful brand. Tweet me your three words @skellermeyer on Twitter.