Ask, Research, Design, Critique, Present, Refine.
I listen first, then I ask questions. I embrace different viewpoints. I don’t hide from conflict in order to get the job done. I believe that a variety of perspective is beneficial. I believe in buy in from all people involved. A good idea isn’t a good idea until people are on board.
Any good design process begins with what, why and who.
I start all design projects with questions and research. I spend a lot of time looking at and gathering competitive work, color palettes, as well as, inspiration that I can pull from the geographical area. This is such a fun part of the process because you're just gathering data and letting it sink into your brain like a sponge.
After that, I put together a mood board to present to the client. This is where you find out what really resonates with the client, and you are given the opportunity to coach and direct the client to the design direction you think is best. Any chance to soften the surprise when I present the first round of logos is best. I want them thinking about the goal while reducing personal preference.
Walk before you can run.
Once I have compiled a mood board with all the sources of inspiration I then begin to play with concepts that are in my head and get them down on paper as quickly as possible. Usually, there are a few concepts that have been in my head the entire time and I get them on paper first. As I am sketching, I'll get more ideas and more concepts I want to experiment with.
I will then move in to Illustrator where I will take those concepts I think worked the most and translate them into Illustrator. If I can't replicate them in Illustrator, I will go back to the sketch and ink it, then scan it in where I will Live Trace and modify it there.
I like to work fast in this process and I'll come up with 10-15 concepts in Illustrator quickly, editing and eliminating and adding concepts as I go.
Once I get three that I am happy with, I begin to mock them up so I can see them in use. I love doing this because this is when a logo begins to get a pulse and you can gauge quickly whether it will actually work or not. I will then refine and repeat this process until I get to three that I think work best, based on how things work in real-world situations.
Provide solutions, not options.
Whenever I pitch concepts to clients, I always want to present it in a way that tells a story. Looking at a singular logo in isolation isn't helpful and it makes your client purely rely on whether they like the brand mark or not. They look at things like color and type choice and not whether it will work or not.
That is why I always present concepts in action. This is important, as it gets clients excited about the possibility of a logo. The more that I can mockup the concept in their specific context the better. I want them to see it and touch it and I want them to see it from the end users perspective.
When that happens, it's much easier to sell not only a concept, but a solution.