...but often not considered
In the flurry of activity that goes into preparing for a trade show – from the best technology to the flashiest graphics to the prime booth location at the event – don’t make the critical mistake of overlooking a crucial element of your brand and your marketing: DESIGN. Good design creates more space, improves the functionality of space, enhances space through lighting, color, texture, scale. Design is meant to be both very visible and magnetic, but yet subtle enough as to be almost invisible. Since many marketers are worrying about how to get noticed, design is the answer. It’s the visual image that will make people notice you. Through the use of balance, focus, and repetition, you can inspire your prospects and elevate your presence at any event.
Deciding what to display at an event is the first order of business, and the most difficult. Even businesses with a small product line or limited services have to make the decision of what to put out front. In general, the most successful businesses stick to the “rule of thirds,” limiting themselves to three specific areas:
- Introduce what is new – people are drawn to novelty and announcements.
- Capitalize on what is popular – what’s hot, what’s in, where’s the bandwagon?!
- Promote what you want to sell – focus on what will have the greatest impact on your business.
Obviously, some event spaces have more room than others, so you can do more in some than others. Still, the rule of three stands. Consumers’ eyes are visually drawn to groups of three. It’s an easy number to spot and count and science shows that viewers get weary when they are asked to visually process things in groups of 4 or more. Weird, but true. Don’t oversaturate your audience. Help them focus on your top 3 offerings by pouring energy into a design that highlights what you want them to see.
One of the earliest principles taught in design school is the concept of balance. In design, balance visually distributes elements to convey equilibrium or emphasis. Balance can be achieved through color, texture, or symmetry of forms. And balance doesn’t necessarily mean symmetrical – sometimes a heavily symmetrical design can feel rigid and industrial. Asymmetrical balance can be used to emphasize a particular area or product or element in a design. Again the rule of three applies here. Aim to achieve visual balance in these three areas:
- The amount of information presented. Play up the features and present the most important benefits, but don’t try to convey everything. It pollutes your space.
- The number of graphics and visuals displayed. Again, focus and don’t pollute.
- The ratio of staffed to unstaffed pieces of your presentation. Avoid micromanaging your customers and having to have an eye-to-eye for every piece of information; on the other hand, an unstaffed booth with only information kiosks can seem a little TOO hands-off.
The importance of balance cannot be overstated. You want to provide enough of something but not too much. You don’t want to underestimate your audience or overestimate them. You don’t want to overwhelm visitors but you want to pique their interest. Balance. But just like you learning to ride a bike, balance can look like a wobble at first. It’s ok.
Reusing the same or similar elements throughout your design will bring a clear sense of unity, consistency, and cohesiveness. Repetition does not mean monotony as it can be regular or irregular and even or uneven. Think of it as reinforcement. When your presentation is well-designed and executed, you want attendees to recognize your brand, to identify your products and services with that brand. The best way to do that is brand everything:
- Your booth graphics and images
- Your literature and swag
- Your apparel
This much repetition might seem like overkill when you look at it on paper or in your warehouse, but imagine yourself at a trade show. Imagine that your booth and your bags and your staff with their branded shirts and rubber bracelets and snapbacks are immersed in a sea of other brands and people and companies. It doesn’t seem like too much then, does it? Branding everything makes sense when you consider that the branding will travel. That staffer with that company logo shirt will wander away from the booth to get coffee. Attendees will carry your logo-stamped bag all over the event hall.
Remember these three critical elements of design when preparing for your next trade show. Let the pros make your booth do the hard work of attracting customers and winning business through a professional design that is both subtle and outstanding.
This article was inspired by ""Don't Let a Canceled Trade Show Cancel Your Marketing Goals" by Briquelle Neyens and first appeared at skyline.com