Trade shows are attended annually by hundreds of thousands of people, some are huge lavish events catering to various industry leaders while others may have a pot luck feel. It is a unique targeted opportunity to promote a brand, sell your wares directly to the consumer or launch a new product.  Whatever the show may be, knowing your target audience and what is their focus is the key to a successful show.  In this carnival like setting, getting noticed is the biggest challenge.  How can you catch peoples’ attention in this atmosphere?  DESIGN!  A great design needs to stand out.  Does it need to scream? Maybe, but that depends on your message.  A company promoting inexpensive cleaning products may need to scream in an overcrowded market, where as someone selling specialized medical data entry software may want to evoke a more corporate, reliable feel.

One major difference between trade show graphics and “traditional” magazine and brochure graphics is scale.  The human factor and how people view Trade shows gives a third dimension to the Graphic design process.  Obviously good composition is always a must, but something that works in a brochure may not work in your exhibit. People standing in front of a graphic blocking the lower section can defeat the purpose.

I like to think in terms of hierarchy.  As someone walks the show floor, you need to get your company name or brand up high.  This is your beacon.  As they approach you want to typically have a positioning statement which lets them know why they should bother coming into your exhibit space.  Once they are in, then the next level should be bulleted statements explaining benefits, services, products etc.   At this point, your booth staffers can further qualify these potential clients.

Great graphic design can enhance your show experience, but it needs to be thought out.  Keeping this hierarchy in mind during the design process will make the task more structured and therefore more enjoyable.  Graphics should be appropriate for the message and evoke the right “personality” for your company.  If you are confident in your exhibit’s effectiveness, this will translate to a successful at-show experience.


Allen Sandy