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Experiential Marketing: A New Framework for Design and Communications

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Special Edition Reprint from the dmi: Review 40th Anniversary Issue


ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: vol.10 no.2, 1999

REPRINTED: vol.25 no.4, 2015



John Maeda is a graphic designer, computer scientist, academic, and author. His work in design, technology, and leadership explores the area where the fields merge. He was the president of the Rhode Island School of Design from 2008 to 2013. He is currently a design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.




By Darrel Rhea

A tectonic shift in design practice was underway in 1999. Both traditional features and benefits marketing and brand communications were giving way to customer experience design. Our community saw that this was a more powerful platform for integrating design and communications activities, and a whole new set of approaches, methods, and tools were beginning to be developed. While several authors, such as Pine and Gilmore, had successfully advocated for this new perspective, Bernd Schmitt from Columbia Business School was creating a systematized, practical framework for managing experience design.


The core ideas presented are still relevant today. In fact, designers are still having to make the same arguments to business 15 years later. Schmitt’s article (in addition to his many other books and articles) reveals emerging distinctions that many of us in the design industry have built upon in our writings. While the concept of experience design has matured to include more robust models and more comprehensive frameworks for guiding design development, practitioners will find this piece both useful for what they do today and a good reminder of how we got here. 



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