The first thing I do when beginning a new design with a client is send them a tailored questionnaire. I have a general one on hand, but after speaking with them, I then customize it to find who the company is and who they'd like to become through their brand development. The questionnaire includes everything from business-oriented questions ("What is your USP?") to aesthetic preferences ("What colors do you think best represent the company?").
Moodboard & Inspiration
After learning as much as I can about the company, I begin making sense of it all by gathering colors, images, typography, and quotes that visually explain the company. One of my favorite quotes is "Design is thinking made visual", so here I try to put all I've learned into one visual moodboard.
Sketch, sketch, sketch
Now that I've got an idea of some of the imagery that speaks to the company, I begin sketching. I think of the most stripped down way to convey an object or idea without losing its meaning. This is the most difficult part.
To the Computer
Finally, I scan my sketch and open it up in Illustrator. I then rework it in more ways than I can count until I reach something I'm satisfied with. I'll usual come up with between 3-6 variants to show the client. I've found that if you display too many, it becomes quite overwhelming during the decision-making process, so I spend a good amount of time narrowing it down. Contrarily, if you show too few, you risk dissatisfying the client, and no one wants that.