I was thinking about how branding fits into the overall business activities map – what steps you should work out before creating your brand, and then what to do afterwards. Here's what I came up with:

1. The Business Idea gets formed. Usually, the idea is very rough.

2. Create a Business Plan. This talks about the details of your offering, financial and administrative details, staffing, etc.

3. Create a Brand Definition. This piece talks about:
A. Who You Are
B. What You Do
C. What Makes You Different
D. Who You Can Best Help
The key here is finding a simple way to tell a story about your business that covers all of these elements in an understandable and straightforward way. Also, you should make sure that you're telling this story in a way that will be interesting, compelling and memorable for your audience.

4. Create a Marketing Plan. This talks about what marketing pieces and timings would best work for you and for your audience.

5. Create a Brand Identity. This consists of at least a logo, business card, letterhead, basic website, and follow up marketing tool (like an HTML newsletter or postcard). Your brand identity may need other pieces as well.

6. Design other Marketing Materials. And, at the same time, fill out your company's Visual Vocabulary (the sidekick to the superhero logo – all the other graphics that you're going to use in combination with your logo to make your materials look consistent and eye-catching).

7. Then, you need to do Distribution – whether that's mailing out pieces, working on the SEO of your website so that you get noticed, going networking, making cold calls… whatever your strategy is to get your marketing pieces out of your office and into your potential clients' hands.