Anyone who has ever been part of the creative process knows firsthand that designing trade show exhibits can prove a challenge in all the best and worst ways. Creatively, business executives love getting the chance to flex their marketing muscles and design trade show exhibits that effectively capture the very essence of their brand. However, achieving that goal can prove a daunting challenge.
Design your trade show exhibit well, and you’ll build your brand, attract new leads, and help generate sales. Miss the mark, and you’ll have an oversized lump that gets ignored and overlooked.
To help you get the trade show exhibit you need, here are the 15 of the best ideas on exhibit design that I’ve seen — and experienced:
1. What do You Do: Ensure your exhibit clearly says who you are, what you do, and why someone should buy from you.
2. Create an Experience: Engage the senses.
3. Be true to your brand: Be true to your brand and create greater recognition and memorability by integrating your exhibit design with your other marketing mediums, such as web, brochures, email, print ads, and direct mail.
4. Go Big or Go Home: Create focal point and visual impact with a booth that has bright, bold colors (as brand appropriate), big images that matter to your audiences, and easy to read text that says the right messages.
5. Graphic Design: Once you’ve decided the size and style of your trade show exhibit, it’s time to start designing the layout of your graphics and images. Always use product graphics that showcase your most recent lines and services so the crowd knows exactly what you have to offer. Also consider pattern, texture, color, and light are integral parts of design that aid to the memorability of a brand. Patterns come in various forms and colors. They may be abstract, anthemion, argyle or art deco, batik or basket-weave just to name a few.
6. Utility in Design: Build your trade show booth space so it best fits your specific marketing objectives — spaces for brand-building graphics, lead stations, demo areas, meetings, etc. While many exhibitors find they get more leads with an open and inviting space, others find they need more mass for impact or walls for meeting areas. Just focus on your top objectives, because you don’t have room for all of them!
7. Balance: Choose an exhibit that balances your need for marketing impact with your desire to save money on shipping, drayage, I&D and storage costs.
8. Less is More: Put fewer words on your exhibit graphics, but make each word bigger. A single, clearly stated benefits statement is better than long list of bulleted points that gets ignored.
9. Light it Up: Add lighting to the mix and you construct the element of emotion for the attendee. Your exhibit space starts to communicate to you at a feeling level and a cellular level. Light, when diffused off textured surfaces, forms interesting patterns. Directional lighting amplifies a texture, producing variations in shadows. Soft, diffused lighting, on the contrary, minimizes contrast and shadows making textures difficult to read.
10. Game Plan Long Term: Plan your exhibit design around your trade show schedule for the next year, two, or three, to minimize your expenses for various booth sizes, marketing messages, and show locations.
11. Contrast: Contrast is always one perennial design feature always to remember: Contrast is the magic key. The light and the dark the old and the new, the rough and the soft. The clash of it all is very sexy and sets you apart from most on the show floor.
12. Harmony: Is your brand consistent across the varying marketing platforms and viewed consistently? Is the message, colors, images and promises consistent too? There should be consistency in brand if an attendee goes from a mobile platform, to your website on a laptop, to your exhibit, to your sponsorship ad in your industry magazines.
13. Time to Breathe: Give yourself enough time to get new exhibits designed, and include the time it takes to get agreement within your management team on marketing direction.
14. Some, Not All: Focus on showing/ demonstrating your most popular and new products, rather than trying to cram all your products into a limited booth space.
15. Integrate Tech: Decide whatever technology you will use in your exhibit, so you can design it into the exhibit from the start. This can be critical especially if the design centers around the tech element.
Effective trade show exhibit design shapes your intangible marketing messages into a solid presence that increases company visibility, attracts prospects, and hosts your customers.