When client isn't satisfied with current design, or let say your first sketch rejected. What are your steps to debug it?
Make sure you get good feedback from the client. It's important to know at that point where you went wrong, what they don't like and what elements they want to retain.
Go back to the brief. Has what you've produced met every single objective? It's ok not to nail the brief first time round, but re-reading might highlight something that you've missed, or give you another angle that you hadn't previously considered.
Do some more research. It's helpful to see how other people approach tasks like the one you've been given. It will help you get perspective on what you are doing and give you ideas of how you can improve your own design. Also include research on your client. How have they visually represented themselves across other media? Have you designed adjacent to this look and feel? Looking at what they have signed off on previously can give you an indication as to the style they like.
It's important to remember, your style doesn't suit every brand. Give the client what they want. Not what you "think" they want.
Last point most likely reason why newbie (like me) got problem in the first place
I like your input, but the I want to touch on last point.
"It's important to remember, your style doesn't suit every brand. Give the client what they want. Not what you "think" they want.
I find as professional designers, it’s our duty as experts to educate and guide clients. To interpret their objectives, contrast them against relevant constraints and illuminate effective solutions.
When you’re running a business, it’s easy to say "Yes" and focus on meeting client requests on time. After all, we all want to keep the lights on.
A bad client (if given the chance) will direct a project, and often design by committee (not uncommonly riddled with politics and personal biases). You all know what I'm talking about.
A good client will get frustrated if you aren’t taking lead. Good clients understand it’s mutually beneficial to let you educate and lead them, but it’s your job to build the founding trust to facilitate such a relationship.
Not all clients are willing to work this way, but luckily, I’ve discovered two great tactics that help with virtually every project:
Presenting the process up front, specifically explaining that in order for you to deliver on your promises to them, you need to stick to your process. (Where possible, tie your decision making into their benefit.) This gives you great leverage in justifying your thinking and decisions later on.
Manage client expectations. I can’t emphasize this enough. Missed deadlines, bloated budgets and other hiccups can be virtually painless when you know it’s coming. If your client takes an extra day to respond to do you, don’t be afraid to tell them now you’re a day behind.
So in regards to the original question—through a detailed process and managing client expectations, I’ve found significantly more success distilling effective designs for clients. Sort of like a pre-emptive debugging.