Alexis Exhibits

Trade Show Design Trends: Multi-Purpose Custom Design

Most companies end up purchasing several kinds of displays to work for different types of events. For small, local shows they have tabletop and standing displays, table covers in various sizes, and portable trade show stands. For larger spaces, they have modular displays. And for their “big show” they have a custom exhibit.

Now, some companies are asking a lot more from their trade show design firm. They want to invest in trade show exhibits that can be used for many types of events, will hold up to a lot of uses but still look new, and that can be easily updated for new shows. They are commissioning Multi-Purpose Custom Exhibits.

These companies are investing in large custom exhibits that are composed of components that can be used in smaller booths. In some cases, it is as simple as cleverly designing a large backwall so that a 10-foot section can be used in a small booth. In others, an elaborate custom space with stages, interactive displays, meeting area and merchandise fixtures is created for a large island booth at a major trade show. After the show, many of the components can be reconfigured to use for smaller exhibits.

Multi-Purpose Custom Design has financial benefits

The main motivation for moving to Multi-Purpose Custom Design is financial. Sometimes the initial custom display is a bit more expensive but most companies experience savings in the first year.

Brand consistency across all shows

Because all of the components for trade show displays are done at the same time, it is easier to maintain brand integrity. There is consistency in graphics, colors, copy positioning, and product displays.

How to start work on a Multi-Purpose Custom Design

Put together a list of all the shows on your Trade Show schedule along with planned booth sizes. Make sure to gather any special exhibit requirements. Determine how long the exhibit will be used. Is it for a year, or for longer? Define your marketing goals and how the exhibit will be tied into your company’s overarching brand campaign. Then select a custom design firm that understands how to create Multi-Purpose Custom Exhibits.

Yes, it takes a bit more planning in the beginning but the benefits are worth the effort.

Create Exhibits with Curb Appeal

Trade shows are by nature quite chaotic. Attendees bustling from booth to booth while exhibitors fight to garner their attention and interest in their companies’ products or services. Studies have shown that a tradeshow display typically has about three seconds to catch the attention and communicate to a potential customer passing by a booth. To makes things even harder, your booth is competing with possibly hundreds of other displays for attendees’ attention.

So, exhibitors have a matter of seconds to grab attendees’ and potential prospects’ attention and make an immediate impression. Eye-popping, colorful graphics in tradeshow booths are an excellent way to do just that. Graphics in tradeshow booths can include booth signs, displays, banner stands, and even table cloths. So what makes one booth an attention-grabber and another one that’s easily passed by?

Here are some things to think about when you set about creating the graphics that will hopefully deliver a powerful visual punch and grab the attention of potential prospects.

Pick a good color. The right color can help you both convey a message and stand out amidst the sea of competing booths. Warmer colors, such as red, orange and yellow attract more attention than cooler colors, such as blue, green and white.

Keep images simple. Simple, bold and clear images are the most effective in conveying your marketing message to attendees. The more ornate and involved the graphics, the more you risk confusing, overwhelming and distracting booth visitors. If possible, choose just one simple image.

Headlines are key. So put a lot of thought into writing them! Choose your words very carefully and keep it simple, clear and short. This might be the only shot at grabbing the attention of attendees who are giving your booth at most a passing glance. A crafty, compelling headline may be what brings them in to hear more about your company. Also the shorter the headline, the bigger it can be, increasing visibility.

Keep it light. Lighting is very important to helping draw the attention of attendees and in creating a welcoming atmosphere. Be creative with lighting; choose to spotlight a new product or use warmer lighting to create an inviting environment.

Choose a message that packs a punch. This is a tough one. You already know you have to keep it short and sweet with simple imagery. The things that you must communicate are: who you are, what your business does, and what separates you from your competition.

Design for Success: Branded Trade Show Booths Generate Sales

surprisedA trade show exhibit is a rare opportunity to surround your key prospects with your brand experience. An exhibit is not an impersonal 2-D experience like a TV commercial. It is not virtual and passively interactive like your company website. An exhibit can be a real 360-degree brand experience, alive with people and almost completely in your control.

When you invite key prospects into a 360-degree brand experience, your booth has a chance to be one of those few memorable moments from the entire show. And the exhibitors who create these memorable moments are almost always the show sales leaders.

Be true to your brand position and personality.

Make sure that you start out with a platform that is consistent with your brand position and personality. If you are a technology company, you can be playful and use a comic book superhero theme. On the other hand, the same theme is probably not appropriate for a health care benefits company who needs to establish credibility and trust. Similarly, if your company manufactures euro-design furniture, your booth can be sleek, experimental and minimalistic. But if your company makes traditional American style furniture with a focus on fine craftsmanship, your booth design should reflect that heritage.

“Surprise and Delight” your target customers.

To create a memorable moment with your booth, you need an overarching theme and concept that will surprise and delight your target customers. You are looking for something that will break out of the endless sea of logos, photos of smiling customers, and product images. Based on surveys of trade show attendees and exhibitors, the memorable booths are not the biggest booths, they are the ones that had one big idea and focused on it.

I can’t give you a list of foolproof big ideas. You’ll need to work with your team and exhibit design company to create the concept. I can pass on one secret – get your internal and external team members to think only about your brand and what would really “Surprise and Delight” your target customers. Don’t be distracted by what your competition did last year or even what your company did last year. Brainstorm first, then evaluate the ideas once you have a list.

Once you have a concept, everything else will fall into place.

One unifying concept will pull everything together. If you have multiple products or divisions involved with the show, use the concept to unify everything. Make sure every aspect of the entire exhibit – accessories, product displays, signage and lighting – builds on the big idea.

And never forget: when it comes to a great trade show exhibit, less is more really applies. Focus relentlessly on your brand and your concept.

Trade Show Exhibit Design: Tension Fabric Displays

Tension fabric displays have many advantages; they are portable, easy to set up, affordable and inexpensive to update. Many exhibitors have switched to fabric graphics because they eliminate the possibility of glare or scratched, marred finishes. Other exhibitors appreciated the contemporary look that can be achieved with fabric graphics. With all the advantages of using tension fabric, it is no wonder that it has rapidly become commonplace. Unfortunately, commonplace can also become boring on a trade show floor.

Designers get creative with Tension Fabric

The typical tension fabric display is constructed of anodized aluminum tubing covered with a stretch fabric that has been printed with graphics. Most often, the exhibits using tension fabric basically replicate traditional trade show display forms. But now, a few exhibit designers are starting to explore the real potential of lightweight framing, tension fabric, programmed lighting and new printing technology to create some innovative new trade show exhibits that were not possible with traditional materials.

Lightweight framing offers new design freedom

The advent of lightweight aluminum framing means that designers can more freely incorporate tall structures and ceiling-hung elements in booths to increase visibility. It also has enabled designers to cost-efficiently create new freeform shapes and elegant, curved structures. These materials offer almost endless shape and size possibilities. Some designers have even created soaring three-dimensional structures that attendees can enter and be immersed in the brand experience.

Fabric graphics offer versatility

fabricFabric graphics offer more versatility than laminated panels, and can be produced in varying textures and opacities. Fabrics can be used to add movement and elegance to banners, and hanging elements. And translucent fabrics printed with opaque ink and illuminated with backlighting can be used to add more dimension to the design.

Graphics can be printed on fabric with either a dye sublimation process or a direct ink jet printing process to achieve different effects. Dye sublimation is a continuous-tone printing technology that very closely replicates a chemical photograph and is the best way to reproduce photographs.

Direct ink jet printing produces sharper, brilliant images and is the best choice for highly graphic images. And, with recent advances in high-resolution ink jet technology, high-quality photographic images can be produced with inkjet printing. This printing method can be used on both synthetic and natural fabrics, and allows designers to create fabric graphics on silk, cotton and fabric blends.

Limitless design possibilities

Fabric is a durable, lightweight, versatile, and affordable medium for trade show exhibit design. It provides designers with countless ways to create fresh and up-to-date displays that can make a trade show exhibit stand out at even the most competitive show.

DOs and DON’Ts for Effective Trade Show Booths

So in the past few weeks we’ve talked about a myriad of trade show topics: how to entertain attendees, how to develop an effective trade show marketing strategy, tips on how to work your booth, how to reduce costs, and ways to plan before leaving for your trade show. Let’s take a few steps back and determine what are a few of the DOs and DON’Ts of pulling together a successful, enticing tradeshow exhibit.

doanddontPreparing for a trade show, especially for small companies, can be a daunting task. Deciding what to include and how to set up an actual exhibit/display is one of the fundamental decisions you’ll have to make. First step is to contact the show managers and find out the size of the booth you will have, whether there is a wall space for your company sign, if there are electrical outlets available, and any other small items that you might be responsible for supplying.

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when creating your exhibit:

DON’T overstuff it. Product managers might want to display things that represent every brand or product your company offers. Partners might want their logo splashed all over your booth. Keep in mind that sometimes simpler is better. Booths overcrowded with displays, products, stands, etc., turn off prospective attendees and prevent you from quickly communicating why attendees should visit you.

DO simplify your message. Many exhibitors make the mistake of bombarding their booth visitors with marketing slogans. Instead choose the one core message you want to impart to potential customers and stick to that in terms of graphic presentations. Displaying fewer, but larger visual elements in your exhibit will reduce clutter and better garner an attendee’s attention and create a lasting impression.

DO focus on the cream of the crop. Instead of hauling your entire product line to a tradeshow booth and again cluttering your display, overwhelming visitors, and diluting your marketing message, showcase only your new and top-selling products.

DON’T rely on static displays. Any type of motion captures people’s attention as opposed to static displays. You can take advantage of this by playing a looping DVD on a widescreen TV or make use of a rotating display.

DO maintain a small, private area. If your booth is big enough, it’s nice to have a quiet, private area with a table and a few chairs to take attendees or promising prospects that might like to sit down and discuss your company and its product and services in more detail.

DON’T scrimp on carpet. This might sound silly, but after a long day of walking miles and miles on the unforgiving floors of huge exhibit halls, visitors will appreciate booths that have plush, padded carpet. And, so will your booth workers.

Trade Show Exhibit Design: The Creative Brief

When you need to have a new trade show exhibit created, plan to discuss your schedule, budget, exhibit space, how frequently the booth will be used, and if there are any special requirements for the exhibit. If you want to create a breakthrough exhibit, also take the time to put together your creative requirements.

creative-briefEven some of my most organized clients rarely organize and formalize their creative requirements before they start working on a new trade show exhibit. They generally start by providing some basic verbal instructions about the design requirements. Then spend a lot of time gathering information in response to questions from the creative team.

Letting your vendor work solely from verbal input is the best way to waste time and money. Sometimes it results in a flashy but generic exhibit, and communications disconnects. On the other hand, if you work with your design firm to create a formal creative brief, you are well on your way to creating an exhibit that fully represents your brand and engages your target customer, and makes you look like a pro.

Look for a partner who will collaborate with you and create a formal brief – a succinct statement of what you are trying to accomplish and communicate with your new trade show exhibit. Once you have a formal brief, it’s easy to run it by key stakeholders and make sure that you are on the right track. It also serves as a guide for the creative team so that they clearly understand their mission.

Most of what you need to provide is probably readily available. A few phone calls or quick visits with co-workers and you will have most of the answers. The format that you use really doesn’t matter. Just gather the answers to the key questions and work with your exhibit marketing company to create a brief.

Here’s a list of preliminary questions that I have found are a useful starting point:

Brand and Company Mission:
What is your brand position?
What is your corporate mission?
These are usually brief formal statements that are prepared by the Marketing Department.

Background:
What do you want to achieve with the exhibit?
How will you measure the success of your trade show effort?
What’s going on in the market? Any opportunities or problems in the market?

Your Target Customer:
Who is your target customer?
What should be avoided in talking to this audience?
What do they believe about your company before we tell them anything?
Is there an important secondary audience?

The Message:
If you could get one sentence through all the clutter, what would that be?
If they asked you to prove it, how would you do that?
Are there any other major points do you want to communicate?

Be critical and honest about the answers to these questions. It is great to focus on your company’s strengths but it is also important to make sure the creative team knows your company’s weaknesses and challenges.

Once you have the answers, work with your exhibit design firm to develop a creative brief that provides a clear statement of expectations and lay out a clear framework for the creative team. I have found that the most effective creative briefs result from a collaboration between the client and their design team.

Do you have a collaborative relationship with your trade show exhibit design firm? Do you think it matters?