A great question, and a challenge I face continually working with small or new businesses, nonprofits, and visual or performing artists with tight budgets. Because these organizations are typically small, their mission, culture, particular challenges, and near- and long-term objectives likely all exist in the hearts and minds of a small number of people. By talking openly with those involved, asking the relevant questions, and getting at the essence of who they are or who they’d like to be, you can pretty quickly gather a sense of direction. These conversations cost nothing but do require time and preparation. However, the more clearly you can outline the objectives and parameters at the outset of the project, the closer in you can start on exploration, thereby recouping some of the resources (time) allotted to discovery. Additionally, I believe that qualified designers bring a certain “x” factor to their work, which is a kind of informed intuition making it possible to connect the dots and bring all the disparate elements together into something meaningful and valuable. This comes from experience, cultural awareness, and an open, collaborative relationship with the client, which nets mutually beneficial results.