Corporations often need to exhibit at simultaneous trade shows in different locales and for different reasons. They may even have two separate trade show exhibits at the same event.
Oracle is an example of a company exhibiting at two trade shows at the same time in the same city. Each trade show appearance had a different objective, so one exhibit concentrated on new lead generation, while the other focused on new product launches. Even though the trade shows differed, Oracle’s message needed to stay consistent in presenting their corporate brand.
Your company may have a different agenda for attending different trade shows, but your corporate message must be consistent and easily identified with your corporate DNA.
Every aspect of your custom trade show exhibit presence also must match your company’s:
• Promotional materials
• Public relations
• Online marketing
• Direct mail
You risk losing your identity when you dilute your company’s image with mixed messages. Marketing pros say the golden rule is to stay true to your corporate message, reinforce your brand, and let everything else follow suit.
EventMarketer® magazine advises corporate marketers to be wary of delegating trade show activities to their product development staff. Product teams understandably tend to focus on products rather than the corporate message. This can seriously undermine the corporate image agenda.
To avoid mixed messages, pre-show briefings with all trade show staff team are essential. Then be sure to keep communication channels open and ongoing. Be on guard for any off-the-wall, wacky surprises that could distort your presentation. Also, have company monitors drop in at the trade show booths to ensure the discipline of your corporate exhibiting goals is maintained.
As an example, EventMarketer magazine cites the experience of DaimlerChrysler. With some 60 national auto shows, DaimlerChrysler works with its 8 business units to develop trade show programs for these multi-market trade shows. They then send staffers from zone offices to check on execution at the trade shows. “Although we all have the objective of moving the metal, we also have to maintain the brand consistency,” says director of global event marketing Don Schmid. “That doesn’t always fit into what the dealers want to do.”
The DaimlerChrysler zone staffers leave a show after a few days, and dealers are often tempted to add additional makes and models to the exhibit space. “They might try and move in 15% more vehicles, which makes the space look like a parking lot,” says Schmid. “We have to be ready at all times to play sheriff.”
When exhibiting at a trade show, here are a few things to remember about corporate image reinforcement and brand consistency:
• Understand the basic objectives of the design of your corporate look.
• Adhere to the parameters of the corporate image guidebook. All visuals must meet specific guidelines. Be aware not only of the physical specifications of visuals but also how to incorporate them for trade shows with multiple audiences and products. Stay true to your corporate colors and fonts, and be conscious of how the name of the company is used.
• Be consistent in your brand “mindset,” whether it be upscale, sophisticated, young, or old. This does not only pertain to the way your trade show exhibit looks, but also to the dress style and comportment of your trade show booth staff.
Be sure everyone who represents your company is knowledgeable about all communication aspects of the company. Be able to articulate the brand in trade show booth graphics, sales pitches, promotional hand-outs, email and web messages, even on business cards.
Many brands such as Yahoo! in Sunnyvale, Apple Inc. in Cupertino, eBay in San Jose, Google in Mountain View, Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, Oracle in Redwood City, and Sun Microsystems of Santa Clara have distinctive logos and a certain “personality” and feel about them.
Although they are all in the high-tech industry, each of the brands is noted for its individual character. All have colorful and consistent images; all are distinctive and successful, and their representatives have learned to speak with one voice.
Your company’s brand image will have a much great return on investment if you enforce these basic disciplines.