Flipping through industry “Best Of” lists, like Event Marketer’s annual Fab 50 list of the year’s top event and trade show fabricators, is a great way to find ideas and keep informed about industry trends. However, simply taking someone else’s award-winning design and emblazoning it with your company’s banners and logos isn’t likely to earn you much praise—or attract many new customers. The best trade show exhibit design for your company or your brand is the one that helps you accomplish your unique and specific goals. Do you want to sign contracts with customers and distributors at the event? A private meeting area should be part of your exhibit design. Are you going to do a live demonstration of your product or play a video detailing your service? Your exhibit will need to include a dedicated viewing space with enough room to accommodate a crowd.
Regardless of your goals, some design elements are universal. Most importantly, you’ll want your exhibit to attract a receptive audience. But how?
The Best Trade Show Exhibit Designs Have Killer Graphics
Trade show attendees are bombarded with color and logos. With so many warring displays battling for their attention, your exhibit’s graphics will need to cut through all that visual noise in order to make a strong impression. Usually, that means going big and bold. Think about using full-color palettes, engaging imagery, and a larger-than-life scale for substantial impact. Protip: Two-sided banners work twice as hard.
Your graphics and signage will need to work at multiple distances: Your biggest designs should be easily seen from anywhere in the venue, while smaller signs should draw passersby in for a closer look. Luckily, trade show exhibits give you a chance to get wildly creative with the placement of your graphics. Hang large signs in geometric shapes—circles, triangles, squares—from the ceiling, where they can be easily viewed on all sides from anywhere in the venue. Drape the walls of your exhibit in huge banners, or set up mounted pop-up signs at the entrance to your display to welcome attendees.
While trade shows are a time to get creative, keep your signage consistent with your brand identity. If your exhibit graphics deviate too much from your company’s established logos, fonts, and color scheme, you run the risk of rendering your exhibit unidentifiable, making it difficult for your established customer base to find you. Make sure your graphics are compatible with your company’s established graphic design guidelines and the overall look of your current campaign.
Above all, make sure your signs accomplish everything you want them to do: They need to be clear, specific, and uncluttered. Enlisting the aid of design professionals with ample experience in creating large-scale exhibit graphics is the best way to ensure your message connects with its target audience.
The Best Trade Show Exhibit Designs Are Lit With Purpose
The best signs in the world aren’t going to do your display much good if no one can see them. The default lighting in your venue might fall far short of ideal—the exhibition space might be windowless or underlit, or you might be stuck with glaring overhead lights that drain your display of all color and vibrancy. Plan ahead for these possibilities and arrange to use your own lighting to make your booth look appealing, regardless of the venue’s limitations.
Use lighting to direct visitors’ eyes to specific aspects of your exhibit that you want them to see. While sightlines and your overall booth design will help make that happen, spotlights and special lighting effects can play a significant role as well. Strategic use of backlighting on your graphics can make your company logo pop. If you’ve incorporated a video presentation into your exhibit, the ability to lower the lighting to ideal viewing levels in your theater area will be crucial.
Think of lighting as a vital aspect of your design, helping you tell the story of your company or brand. Warm lights can create a welcoming space, while dramatic, high-contrast illumination might work well for the launch of a high-tech product or service. Don’t be forced to work around the venue’s existing lighting—make lighting work for you.
The Best Trade Show Exhibit Designs Use Video Cleverly
We live in a world in which we’re constantly bombarded with video. We can’t escape it: Flat panels are mounted in restaurants and bars, there’s a monitor in the back of every seat on most airplanes, and shopping centers use video kiosks to provide information and display advertising to shoppers. Because of video overload, our default mode is to filter it all out—unless something cuts through the static and grabs our attention.
A single monitor propped up in your booth, broadcasting your company’s standard-issue promotional video in an endless loop, isn’t likely to attract much attention. It takes innovative design to use video well and create an impression. In the right hands, video can be a powerful tool in creating an effective display. Even a company logo and color scheme can be used to dramatic effect with the right video display design. Consider utilizing something like a vast wall of monitors, each broadcasting part of a digital display which, when all the monitors are viewed simultaneously, results in an attention-grabbing, eye-catching presentation.
The content of your video is as important as how it’s presented. Your video presentation should be geared specifically for the unique demands of a trade show: It should be short, it should be clear, it should be visually engaging, and it should get your message across in a direct yet entertaining manner.
The Best Trade Show Exhibit Designs Think in 3D
You can make a great impression with any size of booth, as long as your design is up to the challenge. Give trade show attendees interesting things to watch, to touch, to play with, to discuss. Make your design an immersive experience. Use all your space to your advantage—if you’re trying to make a big impression and outshine the competition, but you feel as though your exhibit space doesn’t have enough room to fit your ideas, look up: Make sure you’re taking full advantage of your all allotted space. If you’re feeling cramped, build a multi-level exhibit. Or suspend a visually-striking part of your display from the ceiling where it can be seen from every part of the exhibit hall. A trade show exhibit is the perfect opportunity to let your creativity run wild. If you can dream it, it can be built for you.
The Best Trade Show Exhibit Designs Counter Expectations
Visual contrasts are great for making an impression and attracting attention. Is the show likely to be full of stark, sterile booths showcasing the latest and greatest technical whizbangery? Don’t give attendees more of the same. If it fits with your brand, try a bit of counter-programming by adding some natural elements. Small plants or trees can be part of your look.
Consider all surfaces of your space. Feel free to switch up expected textures on walls, furnishings, and floors. Real-world materials like wood, fabric, and strategically-placed flora can add an unexpectedly warm touch to the unnatural environment of a trade show floor. Anytime a visitor wants to touch your display, you have their attention.
The Best Trade Show Exhibit Designs Engage Audiences
Do you want to create social media buzz? You’ll need to give visitors something to tweet about. Make sure your display is primed to serve as the backdrop for photos and videos of attendees having fun with your brand. A great interactive experience can lead influential visitors to form a positive brand association and evangelize about it on the spot by posting about it on social media. Use your company’s existing social media presence to your advantage: Generate excitement in advance of your exhibit by letting all your followers know about it. Make your trade show exhibit as enticing as you can: Give away cool prizes and swag, play fun interactive games, book special celebrity guests. Turn your booth into an exciting destination, then reap the rewards of heightened recognition for your brand.
How to Choose the Best Trade Show Exhibit Designer
Creating the trade show exhibit that works best for your brand requires a great deal of expertise in many disparate fields—graphic design, lighting, video production, logistics and scheduling, carpentry, marketing. Unless you’ve got an experienced team at your disposal, trying to handle all these elements in-house can lead to dropped balls, missed deadlines, and disasters. Instead, consider working with a professional exhibit design firm with the knowledge and experience to handle all the elements involved in helping you accomplish your trade show goals.
ProExhibits has been designing award-winning trade show exhibits for more than thirty years. In 2017, ProExhibits was named a Top 50 Best Event Fabricator in the US by the editors of Event Marketer for a fifth straight year. We’re a full-service exhibits company, offering design, fabrication, and trade show management services under the same roof. We’d like to hear about your specific trade show goals, so we can show you how to achieve them at every event on your calendar. Contact us today to get started.