Before I start any kind of design, I like to learn every last detail about my client and/or their business. For example, say a coffee shop approaches me and asks me to create branding for them.
First, I would inquire what type of customers you intend on attracting? Young business people? Families? This is single most important aspect of the process, because the audience is everything. You HAVE to appeal to your target office and as a designer, I am going to do everything in my power to attract your target audience when offering you a visual identity.
Second, what I would inquire about is as simple as the decor. What style is your coffee shop? Art Deco, Modern, Rustic, Retro, etc. What colors do you like? What style of furniture do you have or intend on buying? What kind of appliances would you be using? What color dishes would you use? What type of displays will you use? What materials will you use? Stainless steel, wood, wallpaper, granite, marble, etc. What patterns are you using or intend to use?
Third, I would ask more specific questions about your business, like what type of food and drink you would serve, what type of uniform will your employees wear, where is your location.
After getting all of the information from the client, I would begin to pull together inspiration boards on Pinterest and make sure I am on the same page as the client in terms of what they are looking for.
Once the client and I have the same vision, I would then create a series of sketches and present those to the client. After making any necessary revisions and coming to a decision, I would create a digital mock up for the client.
After presenting the mock up to the client, I would make any necessary changes or revisions ensuring I am delivering the perfect product to my client.