As a graphic designer focusing mostly on branding start-up companies it was essentially my job to create “something from nothing”. I’ve met and designed for some really great businesses that created their companies out of what seemed like nothing and often used their passion and motivation as an inspiration when trying to translate who they were into a visual representation.
I often had a process when creating a logo or branding a company. First, getting the owner to write down all of the words, phrases or feelings they had associated with their business was the most important step. From there I could have a better understanding of where they wanted the design to go, without asking them WHAT they wanted designed. More often than not, asking someone who isn’t design-minded to describe what they wanted designed ended up in failure on both ends.
Second, I would look in art books, at photography, in readings or anywhere else to get inspiration for the words and phrases I was given. I often visited color pallet sites (like colourlovers.com) and looked up colors within a range I was visualizing, to help me focus my creation.
Next was brainstorm-style sketching. Maybe I had an idea, at this point, of what I wanted to sketch or maybe I was just going to try out some different things. I usually tried to do a 50/50 with typography based sketches versus image based to see which direction I wanted to go.
Last, before sending off at least 2 separate designs for the first round of proofing, I would do focused sketches. These would be a direct translation of what I was working out with all of the previous steps. Sometimes I would send the client actual sketches and sometimes I would render them on the computer if I thought they would be able to visualize the end result that way.
After that I would do up to 2 more rounds of changes before the final product was delivered.