Before I open a computer or put pen to paper, I make sure that I understand your business, what makes you tick, your points of pain, long-term business goals/objectives, and current trends within your industry.
I closely follow the Double Diamond approach of the Design Council. It’s been slightly adapted to work better with my lean, agile approach. With every project, I focus on Discover, Define, Design, and Deliver. To get the most effective results, you need to bridge the gap between strategy and creativity.