Lee Odden

Book Review X: The Experience When Business Meets Design by @briansolis

Lee Odden     Book Reviews

X: The Experience When Business Meets Design

In the digital marketing world a lot of effort has been invested in the making and promoting of content with a singular emphasis on marketing ROI. But customers don’t care about your “great content”, your “clever marketing” or how much money you make from trying to sell them something.

What do customers care about?

Experiences.

Much has been said recently about consumers and experiences vs. things. According to a Harris Poll/Eventbrite study, 78% of Millenials would choose to spend money on a desirable experience or event over buying something desirable, and 55% of millennials say they’re spending more on events and live experiences than ever before.

The value for experiences over things isn’t necessarily new and certainly applies to all generations. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes that has an important lesson for brands:

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

So how can businesses adjust and adapt to creating more meaningful experiences for their customers? How can companies be more relevant and meaningful about how they make customers feel? The new book by my friend, Brian Solis, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design may be your answer.

For context, I’ve know Brian Solis a long time from back when he had a Public Relations agency during the early days of social media. It has been impressive to follow his thought leadership journey, writing multiple books, rubbing elbows with celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal and Fortune 500 CEOs, keynoting events all around the world, and arriving at his role as principal analyst, working with Charlene Li at Altimeter Group, a Prophet company.

As a digital analyst and anthropologist, Brian is prolific to say the least with consulting, blogging, writing books and events. That’s why when his publicist reached out to ask me to review X, I replied that I had already ordered a copy.

X: The Experience When Business Meets Design Book

X is a tactile, visual and an intellectual experience all on it’s own. The book has weight, the extensive graphics pop and the organization is very app-like and digital, even though it’s printed on paper. The content of X is equal parts inspirational, cerebral and entertaining, which is fitting, because that’s how I would describe Brian too.

X collage

My entree to the social media world was greatly influenced by my interactions with Brian and through our interactions, interviews and his content, I have been inspired and my imagination has been triggered in many ways.

Imagination is what Brian taps into as soon as you open up X. He starts with:

Close your eyes for a moment and think about the last time you truly had a great experience with a company as a consumer, an experience that captured your heart, mind and spirit.

What about it was special?

Let’s call it “X”.

This book is about X, creating such memorable moments for your customers through every encounter they have with your brand – all day, every day.

What is X about? It’s about why the future of business is experiential and how brands can create and cultivate meaningful experiences for their customers. We live in an always-on world where everyone is connected to information and also, to one another. In this environment, customer experience is your brand and X is literally a blueprint for brands to start delivering better experiences.

What can you expect to learn from reading X?

  • How our own experience gets in the way of designing for people not like us.
  • Why empathy and new perspective unlock creativity and innovation.
  • The importance of User Experience (UX) in real life and in executive thinking.
  • The humanity of Human-Centered Design in all you do.
  • The art of Hollywood storytelling from marketing to product design to packaging.
  • Apple’s holistic approach to experience architecture.
  • The value of different journey and experience mapping approaches.
  • The future of business lies in experience architecture and you are the architect.

Once you buy and read through this book, resist the temptation to exhibit it’s beauty on your coffee table, and use it more like a blueprint or manual for innovating your business to be experience focused.

There’s a lot more to say about X, so to whet your appetite for the experience X will provide, here are many of the quotes that are included throughout:

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” Albert Einstein

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” Henry Ford

“Great design is all the work you don’t ask people who use your product to do.” Rebekah Cox

“Everyone things of changing the world, but no one things of changing himself.” Leo Tolstoy

“You’ve got to start with customer experience and work back toward the technology.” Steve Jobs

“What people seek is not the meaning of life but the experience of being alive.” Joseph Campbell

“Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.” Robert McKee

“Everything is in motion. Everything flows. Everything is vibrating.” William Hazlitt Read

“Trust will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.” David Foster Wallace

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Of course, the experience of reading this blog post is no match for the real-world experience of the book itself. I highly recommend you grab a copy of X from one of the links below.

X: The Experience When Business Meets Design
By Brian Solis, a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist working as Principal Analyst at Altimeter Group, a Prophet company.  You can purchase X on Amazon and visit the book site for more information and to see other reviews.

Lee Odden, Brian Solis, Chris Heuer
San Francisco Serendipity: While recently meeting with my Cousin at a cafe in SF for the first time in 40 years, my friend Chris Heuer walked by on his way to see our mutual friend Brian Solis, where we ended up taking this photo (at the Four Seasons of course).

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About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.