How To Use The Style Cards

Style Cards is a design ideation tool built for brand strategists, designers, and creative teams to create mood boards and transform their ideas into the brand or design concepts. Currently, we have two editions — Style Cards Vol.1 and Style Cards Vol.2 — which come in both print and digital formats.

Print version of the Style Cards Vol1 and Vol2.
Digital version of the Style Cards vol.1

Each edition has a total of 130 design cards that feature a curated selection of the most interesting works in branding, photography, print, fashion, and film to give you an idea of what’s currently shaping our visual culture. We wanted to create cards with a huge variety of examples from different parts of the design world to give you a full diversity of things to choose from.

What do the Style Cards help with?

Using the design cards, you can:

  • Discover what’s on-trend across the international design community
  • Facilitate a successful design conversation or workshop
  • Enrich your visual mood-boards
  • Add more play to your creative process

We created the style cards with the goal to bring you a practical, inspiring, and fun ideation tool, which you could use to gamify your design workshops and facilitate smooth design conversations.

Print version of Style Cards vol.2
Digital version of the Style Cards vol.2

How to use the digital version of the Style Cards?

Here’s the video that explains how to use the digital Style Cards:

How to use the print version of the Style Cards?

Here’s the video on how to use the print version of the Style Cards. You’ll also find a bit more below.

If you were to use Volume 2 (as an example), you would see that there are 130 cards that are organized into 10 themes which are listed on the title card.

Flip the deck over and you’ll see that all the cards are categorized by color according to the theme that they belong to.

Style Cards vol.1

1. Spread the Cards on the Table

If you are running a design workshop, either with your team or with your client, we recommend you spread the cards out across a central table. First things first, use the themes themselves to start a conversation – ask your client or your team if any of the themes are resonating with them at first glance.

2. Spread out the Cards from the Selected Themes

If a client picks a theme, like Vintage Modern, and agrees that this is a context within which they could see their brand being defined, your second move would be to then flip the deck over, spread out all the cards, and show off the variety of designs.

3. Understand which Designs the Client Resonates With

The third step would be to ask the clients or your team to pick which of the designs resonate the most with the brand or the project that they want to create, asking what is aspirational for them and what they don’t like. They will then go ahead and say ‘I love this’ or ‘I don’t like that’, which will give you an idea of what resonates with them.

4. Understand the WHY Behind Each Image

Now that you have the images in front of you and you have identified what is a ‘yes’ and what is a ‘no’, you’ll want to understand why the team likes what they like.

The fourth step is to ask questions like:

  • What do they like about this image?
  • Is it the colors, the typography, the shapes?

Aesthetics are very subjective so you’ll need to understand exactly what they like and why — what you like in a picture is not necessarily what a client will like. This way, the style cards open a conversation to synchronize your tastes with the tastes of the client.

You may have a client that is giving you total creative freedom, but you should still showcase your thoughts visually with the cards to see how the client reacts to your ideas.

5. Create a Mood-Board

The fifth step would be to create a mood board of the visual direction for the brand or your design project.

By using these cards as a tool to extract what the client likes and what they don’t like you’re facilitating an important design conversation. You can also use our Word Cards, a set of ideation cards that define the components of a brand’s personality like brand archetype, tone of voice, personality traits, and style, to create a more comprehensive mood board.

Word Cards help to crystallize the Brand’s Personality.

6. Enhance Your Moodbard with Further Research

The initial mood-board that you’ll create with the Style Cards will set you in the right direction for the design project. It will ensure you will minimize the miscommunications with your client or team and reduce your back-and-forths.

If you feel that further research is needed to add more clarity to the initial moodboard, you can enhance it with additional images you’ll find on Google, Pinterest or other image libraries. It’s important to get the mood-board as accurate as possible so the actual design project goes smoothly.

Count in a few more iterations on the mood-board to get it to the best state possible and crystallize the design direction for your project.

7. Turn Your Moodboard into the Brand Board

Once you’ve polished up your initial moldboard, you can then move on to creating the actual Brand Board if you’re working on a branding project. The Brand Board would contain more elements related to the brand identity that define it’s archetype, typography, final imagery, colors, personality traits, etc. Here’s an example:

coinbase brand moodboard
Coinbase Brand Board created with the Brand Canvas.

You can find more examples of the Brand Boards in this article.

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Using the Style Cards to get that clarity for a project can save you a lot of time and a lot of back and forths — which is totally unnecessary.

Add more fun to your work, elevate design workshops to the next level and discover new ideas. Good luck!