Most organizations have a style guide that’s familiar across all departments. This consistency helps the company stay coherent across its website, business emails, and print collateral. A strong style guide helps customers recognize and remember the brand, so it’s important that trade show exhibit booth designs reflect that branding.
However, an exhibit booth is very different than a website or an email blast. Trade show visitors will scan through hundreds of booths in a crowded room, they may stop at a safe distance across from attractive exhibit booth designs, and they might interact with a company representative. To capitalize on the unique business potential of a trade show, keep these branding tactics in mind.
- Stick to the Company Themes. A trade show is not an excuse to ignore the company style guide. Custom exhibits should stick to the organization’s preferred font and color scheme. It’s important to get your materials printed several months in advance. This allows you to look over the design and make sure the display represents the organization well.
Ask the printer if you can see a proof of your order to help make the process smoother. Over time, other vendors and event visitors will begin to recognize your brand based on your style guide details.
- Keep Custom Exhibits Simple. Resist the temptation to fill up every inch of usable space on your table or poster. Custom exhibits that are too busy will be overwhelming at an already crowded event. A common design rule suggests that 40% of your graphic space should be left blank. This will help visitors focus on the main message, with space for their eyes to relax and digest the information.
The same rule may restrict the way you follow your usual style guide. Perhaps your website uses lots of colors and artsy fonts–that’s great, but exhibit designs are best kept to two or three colors and fonts so that your message is easy to read both up close, and as visitors pass by at a distance. Apply the same rule to your verbal pitch. Have a one-sentence version of what you do and how you do it better than anyone else.
- Find a Way to Stand Out. At any given trade show, there will be hundreds of other exhibitors vying for the attention of attendees. They will all use similar exhibit rentals, pitch lines, and swag. To draw in attendees and convert them to leads, custom exhibits need to stand out. Some tried and true tactics include holding a raffle, giving away exceptional swag, and–of course–food. Interactive exhibit designs always help slow visitors down and take note. Make visitors demo your product before they can take a cookie, or challenge them to test their knowledge in a friendly and fun way.
Attendees spend on average 9.5 hours of trade show time in the exhibit hall, and at the end of the day. You want the few minutes they spent at your booth to stand out in their memory. Making an impression can be as simple as starting a conversation with visitors to learn more about their interest, or as fancy as a custom exhibit design with a touch screen program that visitors can run through.
- Build Branding Through Market Research. Trade shows aren’t just an opportunity for potential new customers; they are also a great way to learn more about the industry. Take time to connect with industry leaders, visit competitor’s booths, and learn more about your target audience. Visitors will take notice if your organization is particularly interested in their needs and concerns, they’ll start to associate this personalized attention with your brand.
What’s more, the company can learn a lot from these interactions. Test out new marketing tag lines on exhibit attendees. After hundreds of visitors stop by your booth, you’ll have a sense of what phrases flop, and which ones get a great response. This information can help the company continue to build and develop great branding.
Trade shows can be a great opportunity to learn about your market, and build a name and an audience for your company. Are there other ways that your company has used custom exhibits to brand themselves? Tells us about your trade show experiences and company branding.