One of the first things I do with new clients is collaborate with them on an assemblage that personifies the purpose of their work: a mood board. Sometimes what comes together seems random upon first viewing and other times there is clearly a common thread. It can be difficult for those who are less visually driven or who don't consume much media (bless their pristine minds) to find source material - in which case I cull from my vast collection of visuals to create a few possible directions and we narrow it down from there. Sometimes the mood board is refined or simplified if there are too many elements. This is a great opportunity to think strategically with the client about the role of the project and how it fits into the future of their business. Beyond that, I find this exercise useful for a couple reasons. First, it is useful to know what visual reference point, if any, clients bring to the table. Since the final deliverable is visual, I find its much more useful to work this way versus written descriptions, although those have their place. In the beginning its good to think big and without the constraints of language. Second, it gives me inspiration and constraints - I can check my work against the mood board. If I have a strong instinct about the work and it is not aligned with the mood board, I will sometimes create a quick mood board to help me explore the divergent idea and communicate it to the client.
I gave myself the exercise of creating a mood board of my own brand, working backwards from some already established imagery to generate some more stories and visual treatments to incorporate. The following collection of images is the result.