Operation Barbarosssa, the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union, was launched on June 22,1941. Over 4.5 million troops invaded the USSR along a 1,800-mile front, the largest military operation in humanhistory, in terms of manpower and casualties.By January 1942, it was obvious that the Soviet Union had repelled the invaders. Although the war dragged on foranother three years, the Germans were never able to achieve the expected victory.The Germans' strategic error was trying to fight on two fronts. On the West with the English and the Americans.On the East with the Russians.Ironically, 129 years previously, Napoleon made exactly the same mistake. He invaded Russia with 690,000 men,the largest army assembled up to that point in European history.It was the same old story. Trying to fight on two fronts (the English to the West and the Russians to the East)ultimately cost Napoleon his crown and his empire.Then there's Japan which attacked the United States while still fighting a war in China.You might think that no intelligent business person would make the same mistake. But they do all the time.Take Lenovo, the Chinese company that bought IBM's personal-computer operations. Now they're trying to fightHewlett-Packard and Dell at the high end of the PC market and Acer and Asustek at the low end. Not a goodstrategy.Take Citigroup, one of our largest financial institutions with assets of $1,938.5 billion. Yet Citigroup managed tolose $27.7 billion last year and needed $45 billion in government bailout money to stay afloat.What happened at Citigroup? Same old story. It started with Citibank, its consumer banking operation. Then itbought Travelers (insurance), Smith Barney (stock brokerage) and Salomon Brothers (investment banking.) Inother words, Citigroup started as a bank in competition with the other major banks in America and then tried tofight on four fronts: banking, insurance, stock brokerage and investment banking. Not a good strategy.Getting bigger is not a marketing strategy. Yet it's the only strategy many companies seem to be using today. Lineextensions, mergers, acquisitions, multiple price points and other techniques are obviously designed to bulk up acompany's sales. But how do these techniques affect the brand's position in consumers' minds? In general, theyweaken it.Citigroup got bigger and weaker because the brand was stretched in so many directions. As a result, the brandlost its meaning.General Motors made the same mistake. Every one of its brands was stretched to encompass a wide range of vehicles. As a result, the brands lost their meanings and the corporation went bankrupt.I repeat. Bigger is not a strategy. In the past four years, General Motors sold more than 35 million vehiclesworldwide, more than any other automobile producer. Yet in the last four years, General Motors lost $82.1 billion.If your brands don't stand for anything, you have to sell your products on "price." And it's very difficult to makemoney by selling your products cheaper than the competition.In our work with many companies, we find similar thinking. Almost every company wants to get bigger in order toincrease sales and profits. And they take steps in that direction by branching out into many different businessesand many different markets.