So have you heard of this little thing called Pinterest? We’d guess so – it’s not like it hasn’t been all over the news lately.
Controversies aside, it’s a pretty fantastic tool… especially for one of our favorite phases of any brand project, the mood board phase! We’ve blogged about mood boarding a bunch in the past. Not only do we love creating and discussing them with clients, but they also play a vital role in any successful design process.
We recently signed a new branding project with a client in the UK and immediately ran into a snag: we usually present mood boards in person. Traditionally we’ll spend a few weeks gathering images we think might help define the brand direction, then we’ll print and cut them all out to present to the client in a collaborative meeting. The client is then able to add or remove images, offer feedback and help us define their brand before we ever begin sketching. An example of a traditional mood board is below.
But this type of meeting isn’t always possible, especially when there are a couple thousand miles and an entire ocean between us and the client. So how to present a mood board to a far-flung client, and how to host a collaborative meeting with them?
Enter Pinterest. We’d actually considered using it for this purpose shortly after it launched in 2010 (Maryam was lucky enough to snag an early invite), but decided against it at the time. It’s always been in the back of our minds, however, and we spent a lot of time determining how it could become a more integral part of our process. This new project offered the perfect opportunity to try it out again, so with the client’s permission we gave it a shot.
Pros and Cons
The results were pretty fantastic, though there were a few little hitches here and there we’ll need to consider in the future. One of the best things it does is to allow the client to give input extremely early on in the process. Here’s a link to the preliminary mood board we presented. If you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll find a whole bunch of images that were chosen by various members of the client’s team, not by us. This gave us a valuable insight into what the client was thinking far in advance of our presentation. For example, lots of clients will say they’re looking for “clean, simple and modern” design, but that can mean very different things to different people. By looking at the images the client chose, we were able to figure this out much earlier on which in turn allowed us to streamline our own internal process.
Pinterest also provided an excellent means for tracking a client’s feedback. When we mood board in person the client will usually grab an image, make some comments about it and either add it to their “yes” pile, or toss it in the “no” pile. We try our best to jot down notes on each image but sometimes if the client is moving fast we might miss little things here or there. Not so with Pinterest. Since you can comment on each image individually, we just let them discuss the images freely while we recorded their feedback in comments.
However there were a few minor issues. First, due to its dynamic and reflexive layout it can be a little difficult for people to know exactly what image everyone else is talking about. On our nice big monitors here in the studio we had ten columns of images while the various members of the client’s team had anywhere from four to six. Thus the order of the images was different for everyone. A quick solution was to have everyone resize their browsers down to the same number of columns, but this did result in some minor confusion at the beginning of the presentation.
Another issue is the fact that there’s no such thing as private boards on Pinterest (this was one of our problems with it initially). It’s a fantastic tool, but most clients don’t want to have stuff like this plastered all over the internet. Our solution to this problem was to be upfront with the client and to use code names for each project, but it’s a patch instead of a fix. We contacted Pinterest awhile ago to see if they had any plans on adding private boards and their answer was basically no, which is a bummer. However code names are actually kind of fun to come up with…
All in all it’s pretty great and we’d highly recommend giving it a try. Here are the final results of the Code Name Zenodotus board – we were able to narrow it down from 115 initial pins to 18. Huzzah efficiency! If you’d like to see any mood boards we do in the future, why not follow us? We may not always use Pinterest to present boards, but we’re definitely going to use it for our own internal image research!
And now on a completely different topic… did you have a good Memorial Day? We certainly enjoyed having a break from our super-busy schedule. However the holiday tends to turn DC into a bit of a zoo, what with all the parades (like the one pictured above which passes right by our studio), biker rallies and tourists. Unlike a lot of folks, we get a big kick out of seeing all the cool motorcycles in town. We’re suckers for good design no matter what form it takes, and Tomas snapped this shot of a beautiful Royal Enfield bike over the weekend. We’re a little jealous of this guy… the only dealer who sells those bikes in the US is in Minnesota. Oh well. Maybe we’ll get lucky and see a few more next Memorial Day.