A Strong Market Position Rests on a Balance Between Strategy and Execution

“Now, we need to execute. But we’ll get back to you once we have time to look at the strategy”. These words were uttered at a coffee meeting with a potential client.

It’s not the first time we hear this. And it’s not the first time execution has been prioritised over a solid strategic foundation. And to some extent, we get it. Because executing means ‘getting things done’. But it speaks of a more profound misunderstanding.

“Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless,” as the famous quote by management expert Morris Chang goes. The point is to do both in parallel. It’s a symbiosis.

Sure, you can do one without the other, and it might sound easy and cheaper, but it will be costly and challenging in the long run.

Instead, aligning all branches under a unified strategy ensures cohesion and synergy in every single action. However, to do this, you must devote time and resources to both processes, at least if you want to win market shares and cement your market position. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Strategy is About Distilling

To some, strategy sounds like a German opera in seven acts. Big words, little action, and the plot seems to go in circles. But that’s only if you are doing it wrong.

Strategy is about distilling. Getting to the core of who you are as a brand, what you want as a company in an ever-changing market, and how to get there. Of course, always in simple, easy-to-understand terms. Good strategy doesn’t need big words – quite the opposite.

A clear, easy-to-understand strategy will help you win the trust of co-workers, employees, directors, management, board members and investors. The kind of people you want to have on your side, rooting for you.

A clear strategy becomes a framework for your company. A set of principles, a phrase, a mindset that helps you set a course and make short- and long-term decisions which strengthen your message and cement your market position. From product innovation to ad campaigns. A great strategy should give you ideas for tomorrow and lay the foundation for the next 5-10 years.

Remember To Be Patient But Persistent

When your job is working for a consumer brand, brand fatigue can quickly set in. Seeing the same campaigns, products, and executions with the same tagline over and over again erodes the novelty and excitement. Naturally, you want to shake things up and do something new. In other words: you feel like executing.

But this is precisely when you must remind yourself to be patient. Trust in the process. If your strategy is good, you are already moving in the right direction. Don’t rush into a campaign that might boost sales in Q2 but end up setting your brand in the wrong direction.

We know how hard this is. Especially when people around you want to launch new things in new categories to spike growth. However, good growth does not include spraying campaigns and new products. It’s about staying focused, being persistent and solidifying your position. Often, we see product launches that are more tactical-driven than strategy-based. Sure, there is a lot of hype initially, but what happens once it’s gone? Will the product still sell itself, or did your brand become more confusing and less clear to the consumer?


By not only strategising but also executing, Toms Guld Barre reignited its growth and former glory.


Case in Point: Bringing Back Tom’s Gold Standard

Sometimes, your actions take you in one direction, and then you must course-correct. Taking a step back takes courage and determination. The Toms team responsible for the beloved chocolate bar, Guld Barre, did just that.

For 80+ years, Toms Guld Barre had been famed for its shape, a chocolate tablet shaped like an actual gold bar. However, threatened by international and private-label chocolate brands, Toms wanted to fight off the competition and radically decided to change its shape and introduce fillings.

It might sound like a minor change, but it was the beginning of declining sales. Danes had fallen in love with the chocolate bar’s familiar shape and the iconic ‘cracking’ sound. Still, surveys revealed that Toms Guld Barre still had a place in the Danes’ hearts; they associated the brand with good quality, Denmark and nostalgia.

With this in mind, we toured Tom’s historical archives for inspiration. A new logotype was hand-drawn with hints of the original design. We amplified the taste appeal with vibrant colours on shiny gold, and an efficient design system allowed consumers to find their favourite flavour. The stripes reflect the original chocolate bar shape, which, together with its satisfying sound of cracking open a chocolate bar, has been brought back to life.

The early editions of Toms Guld Barre inspired the latest one. It makes the redesign feel familiar yet fresh. But more importantly, it builds on the strategic position of staying true to your core values while paying homage to its heritage, craftsmanship, and rich history. This new nostalgia revied the Danes and revived sales.

And the results are overwhelming. The Toms Guld Barre launched in mid-August 2022, and in December 2022, Nielsen Performance Tracker reports these numbers:

  • 170% value growth
  • 68.8% penetration increase
  • 48% increased brand consideration by 5 %-p, and ​​11% among new consumers
  • Top 3, back among the three largest chocolate bar series in Denmark

Consider, Act, Rinse, Repeat

In a fast-moving consumer world, planning your actions and acting on your plans is essential. Your strategic brand platform is the guiding light that helps you navigate opportunities. Knowing your brand promise makes it much easier to filter through the possibilities and learn whether ideas are useful, useless, or just need tweaking. You’ll know exactly what and where to execute, and with this clarity, you’ll be able to spend your resources more wisely and effectively.

But strategy isn’t just done once. It’s an ongoing exercise. You must schedule regular strategy revisits to ensure you’re always moving in the right direction. Only by executing regularly can you cement a strong position in the market. Meanwhile, your executions can deliver much-needed input to readjusting your strategy. This balance between strategy and execution will provide continuous momentum and excitement – and help you win market shares.