A lot of companies don’t have a corporate strategy.
Here’s a quick test to tell if you’re one of them — answer these questions:

Who are you?
Who are you not?

Odd as it seems, many — maybe even most businesses — have never answered those two questions.

Maybe that’s why they have no strategy.

Corporate strategy is first and foremost about defining who your organization is.

And once you’ve done that, you can begin to think about the next important step in growing your business: brand strategy. So while corporate strategy is defined by who your organization is, brand strategy is about what your organization does.

Knowing which strategy to push–corporate, or brand—and when, means the difference between success and failure.

These differences became apparent to me while working with various organizations that wanted to stand out and build their brand’s market share – and finding that trying to accomplish both did not work as well as focusing on only one. I suspect most marketers understand these differences and talk about them in their strategy sessions. And, in fact, with the demographic information available to us today, many actually design their brand messaging along these lines. Which come to think of it, is one of the really effective ways to build market share.

Know exactly what your customers need. And make sure that is exactly what your brand offers. Then make sure that your organization keeps its brand promises, or better yet, exceeds them! This is one of the surest ways to build market share.

Know who you are. Like many world-class brands, they know when to be edgy, classy, or practical. Take a leading computer company who holds dominant market share, IBM. They continuously reinforce their dominance through promotion of their understanding of what their customers need. Their incumbent positioning maintains the leadership foothold they want to protect and build upon.

Know who you are not. Take a relatively unknown brand that wants to build market awareness and market share and makes claims like, “The Best Widget Ever Made!” Loud and grabbing of attention, you bet. Believable? No. The new entrant needs to make their business case and prove its value proposition before taking a leadership seat at the table. Messages such as, “We are the best because our widget can take 1000 degrees…400 more degrees than any other on the market!” Now that’s a message that has traction and will get attention and be believed. Because the marketplace is filled with brands of all shapes and sizes it’s essential to size up what your customers really need and match your marketing to prove you can best meet their needs.