Free Dictionary defines denial as : “a process by which painful thoughts are not permitted into the consciousness.” Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the exact description of the times we’re living in and through right now: Banks deny they have problems, the President is the master of denial, TV networks deny the fact that their viewership is aging rapidly, advertising agencies continue to do business as usual while their business is dying around them. And the list goes on and on: Just look at industries changing (in some instances disappearing in front of our eyes) – Automotive, Yahoo!, Retailers, Record Labels.
Businesses are organisms. I always compare them to human beings. They have their own consciousness, their own soul, their own spirit. – And most companies act like smokers: They know they’re indulging in bad habits, a habit that will kill them one day. Every day they learn new facts how the smoke contains millions of carcinogens, how your chances of cancer/heart disease increase every time you light up. Standing outside in the rain, they suck on their cigarettes either proclaiming to quit soon or somehow rationalizing that they enjoy their habit.
Denial can come in various forms: Minimizing (It’s not going to be that bad), Cockiness (I’ve handled more difficult situations before), Rationalizing (Our revenue is down by 5%, we don’t have a real problem), Blaming (The clients don’t get it) and Intellectualizing (The new study shows everything will be good.) Or you can just lie to yourself, manipulate others, be defiant or withdraw. In the end, all denial ends in distaster.
Fact is, the advent of personal technology has changed media consumption behavior. Fact is, we’re undergoing dramatic demographic changes. And, fact is, humans are changing the way they interact with each other and institutions in new, never before seen ways.
These facts should lead businesses to rethink their business/marketing/service/brand strategies. Better today since delay is the deadliest form of denial. Just ask how IndyMac, Chrysler and Yahoo feel about their denials now.