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With so many different brainstorming tools available, figuring out which is right for you is tough. You know you want a tool to help you generate ideas and add more organization to your creative process, but you need to figure out which tool is best. In this post, I'll help you make your choice easy by sharing my insights on the best brainstorming tools to foster innovation and get your creative juices flowing.

What are Brainstorming Tools?

Brainstorming tools are digital aids that help individuals or teams generate ideas, organize them into groups, and demonstrate relationships between ideas or topics. They belong to the same group of software as digital whiteboards or mind-mapping tools and are designed to stimulate creative thinking and group collaboration. They include numerous ways to visualize ideas using colours, symbols, tags, sticky notes, and other aids, as well as tools to collaborate with other team members, including @ messages and simultaneous co-authoring.

Brainstorming tools help groups work together to collaborate on ideas, organize tasks, and enhance creativity. They also add order to a previously paper-based or manual process by digitizing the act of brainstorming so you can always look back at your ideas for future reference (rather than referring back to a photo of your scrawls on the whiteboard in your company's meeting room).

Overviews of the 10 Best Brainstorming Tools

Here’s a brief description of each brainstorming tool that showcases each vendor’s best use case, noteworthy features, and pros and cons. I’ve also included screenshots to give you a snapshot of their user interface too.

Best brainstorming tool for importing data from spreadsheets

  • Free plan available
  • From $10/user/month
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Rating: 4.8/5

Miro is a web-based mind mapping tool that allows you to gather references and import data from spreadsheets automatically. You can then build your vision with sticky notes, public diagrams, drawings, images, docs, and gifs.

Why I picked Miro: Miro serves as a mind mapping platform that excels in blending data visualization and teamwork. Using Miro’s visual collaboration platform, you can create plans, co-create solutions, and turn ideas into actions. You can build mind maps to give your ideas structure, then share them across your team. Its infinite canvas supports diverse data formats, including numbers, images, and videos, enabling detailed idea expression.

Additionally, Miro features TalkTrack, which permits users to record video explanations of their process maps, aiding in clear communication across different time zones or schedules. This capability ensures team members can share and understand complex ideas visually and audibly, supporting collaborative efforts to conceptualize and plan projects.

Miro Standout Features and Integrations

Features include brainstorming tools, collaboration features, custom templates, a drag-and-drop interface, an infinite canvas, a planner tool, real-time editing, sticky notes and comments, Miro Assist AI, versatile export options, voting and prioritization, and whiteboarding capabilities. 

Integrations include Atlassian Confluence, monday.com, Asana, Notion, Google Docs, Jira, Microsoft Teams, Mural, Slack, Trello, Typeform, Webex, and Zoom.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Infinite canvas for unrestricted creativity
  • Versatile whiteboarding capabilities for ideation
  • Customizable templates for quick setup

Cons:

  • Performance issues with complex boards
  • Advanced features require higher-tier plans

Best brainstorming tool for turning mind maps into actionable tasks

  • Free version
  • From $10/user/month (billed annually)
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Rating: 4.4/5

Ayoa combines a brainstorming process, task management, and collaboration tools in a single platform, enabling remote teams to generate ideas, increase productivity, and collaborate effectively in real-time. 

Why I picked Ayoa: Through features such as mind mapping, task boards, and communication tools, Ayoa empowers team members to unleash their creativity. The software makes it easy to generate ideas and actions in an online meeting, turn these branches into tasks, assign them to others, and add due dates. Reminders ensure that nothing gets forgotten.

Ayoa Standout Features and Integrations

Features include brainstorming tools, collaboration features, customizable templates, file attachments, goal setting nodes, kanban boards, mind mapping, real-time editing, task management, visual organization tools, and multiple layouts.

Integrations include Dropbox, Evernote, Google Contacts, Google Calendar, Google Drive, iMindMap, and Zoom.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Robust brainstorming and collaboration tools
  • Visual organization for enhanced productivity
  • Real-time editing for seamless collaboration

Cons:

  • Limited integrations
  • Not enough export options

Best brainstorming tool for intelligent idea management

  • Free demo available
  • Pricing upon request
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Rating: 4.5/5

Qmarkets helps you nurture a culture of collaboration to gather, manage, and implement impactful ideas that deliver ongoing value for your organization. 

Why I picked Qmarkets: Using their Brainstorm feature, your team members can submit ideas, refine them through collaboration, and vote for the ones they like best. Similar ideas are automatically detected and filtered out to avoid duplication. 

The intuitive social functionality encourages users to develop ideas into business plans through collaboration, with the opportunity to earn points and badges for their contributions. Team members can rate ideas through crowd-voting options, including thumbs up/down, star ratings, and token-voting.

Qmarkets Standout Features and Integrations

Features include campaign management, collaboration tools, idea evaluation, idea submission, an innovation dashboard, reporting and analytics, resource allocation, scalability, user permissions, and workflow automation.

Integrations include Confluence, Jira, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Salesforce, SharePoint, Slack, Trello, Zendesk, and Zoom.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Collaboration tools enhance team participation
  • Comprehensive reporting and analytics
  • Resource allocation for effective implementation

Cons:

  • Customization options could be improved
  • Initial setup may require support

Best brainstorming tool for a digital whiteboard with augmented intelligence

  • Free plan available
  • From $8.33/user/month (billed annually)
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Rating: 4.2/5

Stormboard is a data-first collaborative workflow platform with the power to create data-rich collaborative workspaces, drawing structured, actionable data from human collaboration worldwide.

Why I picked Stormboard: This collaborative whiteboard solution allows teams to hold meetings, manage projects, and work together on projects, regardless of their location or team set up. 

Powered by augmented intelligence, Stormboard allows you to add context in multiple ways. You can add text, files, images, videos and sticky notes, then ideate freely on the whiteboard. The software includes over 250 templates to get you up and running quickly. 

You can group ideas and content visually and spotlight the items that really matter. Plus, you can export your work into stakeholder-ready documents, spreadsheets, or image files. 

Stormboard Standout Features and Integrations

Features include customizable templates, digital sticky notes, an interactive whiteboard, real-time collaboration, task tracking, voting and prioritization, brainstorming tools, customizable workflows, export options, and team collaboration.

Integrations include Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Trello, Salesforce, Jira, Confluence, OneDrive, and Zendesk.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Interactive whiteboard for collaborative ideation
  • Task tracking for project management
  • Voting and prioritization for decision-making

Cons:

  • Has a few bugs
  • Has a limited scope

Best brainstorming tool for a note-based approach

  • Free plan available
  • From $12.50/user/month

Milanote is a cloud-based tool for organizing ideas and projects into visual boards, so your team can get creative and stay organized. You can use this tool as your online whiteboard to brainstorm ideas and work with your team, wherever they are in the world.

Why I picked Milanote: You can use Milanote to add your thoughts and ideas to a board for further discussion. The software is designed to make text editing and task management simple, with support for all common file types, including JPGs, PNGs, PDFs, Word, Excel, and common design files.

The drag-and-drop function allows you to arrange items in the way that makes the most sense for your project. You can also use the web clipper to collect information online or add notes and photos from your phone. 

Milanote Standout Features and Integrations

Features include collaborative boards, a drag-and-drop interface, image and file support, note organization, real-time collaboration, task management, a template library, text editing tools, a visual canvas, and visual organization tools. 

Integrations include Adobe Creative Cloud, Dropbox, Evernote, Figma, Google Drive, Microsoft Office 365, Notion, Sketch, Slack, and Trello.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Collaborative boards for teamwork
  • Visual canvas for creative expression
  • Versatile note organization capabilities

Cons:

  • No offline mode
  • No mobile app

Best brainstorming tool for enterprise-level security

  • Free plan available
  • From $6.50/user/month (billed semi-annually)

EdrawMind allows you to use mind maps, flowcharts, and Gantt charts for strategic analysis, product management, and project planning, while the real-time cooperation feature keeps everyone working together effectively. 

Why I picked EdrawMind: The software runs on all available operating systems and modern browsers, with data transfer secured by high-level SSL encryption. Multiple team members can co-create synchronously, and it’s easy to turn a Word, HTML or Markdown document into a creative and engaging mind map. 

Mind maps can be exported into PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or image formats. You can share your work with friends, team members, or coworkers while keeping full control over editing or viewing permissions.  

EdrawMind Standout Features and Integrations

Features include brainstorming tools, custom themes, diagramming capabilities, mind map customization, a presentation mode, project management, task tracking, team collaboration, versatile export options, and visual organization tools.

Integrations include Confluence, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, Jira, Microsoft Teams, MindManager, OneDrive, Slack, and Trello.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Pleasing themes
  • Diagramming capabilities for versatile visuals
  • Project management and task tracking

Cons:

  • No support for structured templates
  • Topics and sub-topics cannot be moved freely

Best brainstorming tool for extensive color and styling options

  • Free plan available
  • From $5/user/month

Coggle is a popular collaborative mind-mapping software system. It enables users to conceptualize images visually, then organize and connect them for better brainstorming. 

Why I picked Coggle: Using Coggle, teams can unlock their creativity and generate ideas in a dynamic, intuitive way. Real-time collaboration empowers team members to make simultaneous contributions and offer feedback. It’s easy to capture and structure thoughts in a way that can be translated into actionable strategies. Thanks to the extensive color and styling options, teams can create mind maps that are visually engaging and easy to understand. 

Coggle Standout Features and Integrations

Features that I liked include collaborative editing, color customization, commenting and discussion, export options, hierarchy creation, keyboard shortcuts, real-time synchronization, the revision history, templates, and unlimited nesting. 

Integrations currently available include Asana, Dropbox, GitHub, Google Drive, Jira, MeisterTask, Microsoft Teams, Trello, Typeform, and Zapier.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Collaborative real-time editing
  • Colorful and visually appealing
  • Unlimited levels of nesting

Cons:

  • Mobile app could be improved
  • Offline access not available

Best brainstorming tool for non-linear mind maps

  • Free plan available
  • From $5.99/month

Xmind is a full-featured mind mapping and brainstorming app that offers a complete toolset for stimulating thinking and creativity. 

Why I picked XMind: The non-linear manner of mind map and Xmind's intuitive features give everyone the ability to spark creativity and create mind maps for just about anything. The software supports various mapping styles, from traditional hierarchical structures to radial maps. It also provides multiple collaboration and export options to facilitate creating and sharing ideas.

XMind Standout Features and Integrations

Features include brainstorming tools, custom themes, export options, mind map customization, a presentation mode, project management, task tracking, team collaboration, versatile structure styles, and visual organization.

Integrations include Confluence, Evernote, Google Drive, Jira, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Teams, MindManager, OneNote, Slack, and Trello.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Customizable themes for personalization
  • Versatile structure styles for flexibility
  • Project management and task tracking

Cons:

  • Branch customization could be improved
  • Labeling branches is complicated

Best brainstorming tool for intelligent note-taking

  • Free plan available
  • From $15/user/month (billed annually)

TheBrain is a different type of mind-mapping software that visualizes networks of knowledge and acts as a natural extension of your thinking. 

Why I picked TheBrain: As you move from topic to topic, the software moves with you, showing both your information and all the connections you’ve made. It’s easy to see how things are interlinked, so you never forget or lose an idea.

You are never more than a few seconds away from any piece of digital information, including web pages, images, notes, and documents. You can visualize all your open loops, tasks, and ideas. Thanks to the automatic syncing, all your ideas and to-dos are available from your desktop, web browser, or mobile device.

TheBrain Standout Features and Integrations

Features include attachment support, dynamic visualization, hierarchy creation, linking of thoughts, notes and labels, search and discovery, tags and types, thought icons, web integration, and unlimited thoughts.

Integrations include Evernote, Google Drive, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Teams, MindManager, OneNote, Slack, Trello, and Zotero. 

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Dynamic visualization for interconnected thoughts
  • Advanced hierarchy creation for organization
  • Powerful linking capabilities for associations

Cons:

  • Must be downloaded to your computer
  • Limited free plan functionality

Best brainstorming tool for data visualization

  • 7-day free trial + free plan available
  • From $7.95/user/month
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Rating: 4.6/5

Lucidchart is an online visual workspace that combines data visualization, diagramming, and collaboration features to gather, organize, and share ideas and input.

Why I picked Lucidchart: Using Lucidchart, you can create sticky notes to collect ideas, then use the brainstorming features to create actionable work items and concrete plans. You can use templates to start your idea boards, or import outlined ideas from a spreadsheet. 

You can also use hotkeys to add new shapes, and leverage their formatting features to tailor color schemes, styles, and fonts. I really liked their real-time collaboration, in-editor commenting, collaborative cursors, and extensive data visualization features too.

Lucidchart Standout Features and Integrations

Features include collaborative diagramming, custom templates, data linking, a drag-and-drop interface, real-time collaboration, a revision history, shape libraries, team collaboration tools, versatile export options, and wireframing.

Integrations include connections with popular apps such as Atlassian Confluence, Google Drive, Jira, Microsoft Teams, Office 365, Salesforce, Slack, Trello, Visio, and Zendesk.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Extensive shape library options
  • Versatile diagramming capabilities
  • Data linking for dynamic visuals

Cons:

  • Steeper learning curve for beginners
  • Limited free plan features

The 10 Best Brainstorming Tools Comparison Chart

This comparison chart summarizes basic details about each of the top brainstorming tools I selected. You can view pricing details and the availability of free trials, freemium plans, or demos side-by-side to help you find the best option for your budget and business needs.

Tools Price
Miro From $10/user/month
Ayoa From $10/user/month (billed annually)
Qmarkets Pricing upon request
Stormboard From $8.33/user/month (billed annually)
Milanote From $12.50/user/month
EdrawMind From $6.50/user/month (billed semi-annually)
Coggle From $5/user/month
XMind From $5.99/month
TheBrain From $15/user/month (billed annually)
Lucidchart From $7.95/user/month
Preview Image - <h2 class="c-block__title b-summary-table__title c-listicle__title h3" > Compare Software Specs Side by Side</h2>

Compare Software Specs Side by Side

Use our comparison chart to review and evaluate software specs side-by-side.

Compare Software

Other Options

Here are a few more solid options that didn’t make the best brainstorming tools list:

  1. Lucidspark

    Best brainstorming tool based on ‘sticky notes’

  2. MindMeister

    Best brainstorming tool for global teams

  3. Mindomo

    Best brainstorming tool for cross-platform support

  4. Scrapple

    Best brainstorming tool for a flexible visual canvas

  5. SpiderScribe

    Best brainstorming tool for multiple export options

  6. Bit.ai

    Best brainstorming tool for robust content organization

  7. MindNode

    Best brainstorming tool for mind map customization options

  8. Conceptboard

    Best brainstorming tool for a versatile collaborative space

  9. Microsoft Visio

    Best brainstorming tool for simple, fun brainstorming

  10. Bubbl.us

    Best brainstorming tool for a colorful, visually-engaging interface

How I Selected the Best Brainstorming Tools

With so many brainstorming tools on the market, you may be wondering how I selected the best software for my list. Well, it took a lot of work, that’s for sure. To shortlist the very best tools, I evaluated and compared a wide range of brainstorming tools with positive user ratings. 

Once I’d found the top contenders, I further honed my list by using the selection criteria below to see how each platform stacked up against the next one. I also drew on my years of experience using brainstorming tools to pinpoint features that add a lot of value.

Selection Criteria

Here’s a short summary of the main selection and evaluation criteria I used to develop my list of the best brainstorming tools for this article:

User Interface

I expect a top brainstorming tool to have an intuitive user interface that even non-technical users can get to grips with easily.

Usability

All the required features should be within easy reach, so that users can focus on brainstorming, rather than on figuring out how to use the software.

Collaboration Options

Working together is what brainstorming is all about. So any software tool in this niche should offer versatile collaboration options to help your team members work together effectively.

Customization

The tool should offer customization options, so teams can brainstorm in the way that works best for them.

Software Integrations 

Any good brainstorming tool must integrate with popular business applications that businesses use every day. To save you time, I’ve noted the most relevant integrations for each system too. 

Pricing

Paying for a whole team to brainstorm online is potentially expensive. Any tool chosen should make financial sense on a per-user basis. Almost all of the tools in this list do offer basic plans with limited features to get you started. If you like the way the software works, then you can advance to one of their paid plans to unlock more features. 

People Also Ask

Because of my extensive experience in using brainstorming tools, people often ask me for more information on this topic. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions:

What are brainstorming tools?

Brainstorming tools are software platforms that make it easy for teams to work together to generate and organize ideas in a structured manner. There are various types of brainstorming tools that help with mind mapping, team collaboration, and visual organization.

They empower teams with the freedom to be creative and explore a wealth of new ideas. They are one way to overcome the challenges of working with remote employees.

Why is brainstorming important?

Brainstorming is critical as a way of promoting creativity, innovation, and collaborative problem-solving. It’s a fantastic way for teams to generate new ideas, using out-of-the-box thinking to challenge assumptions.

By involving everyone in inclusive meetings, it boosts team morale, increases engagement, and inspires a new way of thinking. This can ultimately lead to improved decision-making and more effective solutions.

What are some popular brainstorming techniques?

There are many different brainstorming techniques you can use to come up with new ideas. These include mind-mapping, SWOT analysis, Rapid Ideation, and Brainwriting. Other popular options include Six Thinking Hats and SCAMPER (Substituting, Combining, Adapting, Modifying, Putting to another use, Eliminating, or Reverse).

The best technique to use depends very much on the context of your situation, plus the goals of the brainstorming session. I recommend mixing and matching different techniques to find what works best for you.

Is brainstorming the same as mind mapping?

Although the two concepts are related, brainstorming is not the same as mind mapping. Brainstorming is a general term that applies to generating a wide range of new ideas in any way that works.

Mind mapping, on the other hand, describes a visual tool or technique that helps teams organize their thoughts and ideas. So while brainstorming focuses on generating new ideas, mind mapping aids you in organizing and visualizing these ideas.

Better Brainstorming

There are brainstorming tools available for you on a wide range of platforms, including Windows, Android, MacOS, and iOS, as well as open-source solutions. These are great starting points for brainstorming, suitable for everyone from business teams to educators. 

So which of my picks will you choose? Whichever brainstorming tool you go for, it will open the door to new possibilities. 

While you’re here, be sure to sign up for our newsletter, to get the latest insights from the top brains in this sector.

Also, take a moment to check out our other articles on People Managing People. You might be interested in learning how to go from manager to coach, or how to create psychological safety in the workplace. 

Once you’ve found brainstorming strategies that work, the sky’s the limit. With the help of your chosen brainstorming tool, you’ll be on your way to a new era of ideation and accomplishments. 

By Kim Behnke

Kim Behnke is an HR Tool Expert & Writer for People Managing People. She draws on her 9 years of human resources experience and her keen eye for systematic processes to support her analyses of the top HR tools on the market. She is passionate about maximizing efficiencies and streamlining workflows to ensure internal systems run smoothly. Kim's HR experience includes recruitment, onboarding, performance management, training and development, policy development and enforcement, and HR analytics. She also has degrees in psychology, writing, publishing, and technical communication, and recently completed a Certified Digital HR Specialist program through the Academy to Innovate HR. When away from her desk, she can usually be found outside tending to her ever-expanding garden.