How Trade Shows Work

Graphics - Less is More

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How do you get your exhibit booth to communicate who you are, what you do, and what your product or service is -- all in three seconds? Sounds impossible, but it isn't. Think about the billboards that you pass on the highway. They have the exact same job. They have to tell you who the company is and what it's selling as you zoom past at 55+ miles per hour. Some work and some don't. The key is usually in the graphics.

Graphics can communicate a whole host of impressions at a single glance. Think about the Chick-fil-A billboard with the cows painting the "Eat More Chick'n" sign. It's quick, and to the point. Think of your booth in the same way. Trade show attendees are strolling down the aisle looking at hundreds of booths, and unless you've pulled them to your booth with a pre-show promotion, you have to very quickly make them notice you and want to walk over to your booth.

To make your booth graphics have impact and work for you rather than against you, remember:

  • Focus on your product's or service's "benefits" rather than "services."
  • Use text very sparingly. You want your booth to look more like a billboard than a brochure.
  • Make sure there is a single focal point. Find the essence of your business and make sure everything revolves around that central idea.
  • Make sure your name and your positioning statement are very prominent in the design. Remember, if you're a new company, you have to create an impression, and if you're an existing company you have to maintain and build on that impression.

The trends these days in booth graphics are large visual backdrops with only the most concise, key text statements to communicate a message or theme. For example, a company that manufactures scissors or chain saws could use a single, larger-than-life photograph of its product as the background for the booth. The message is immediately obvious, as opposed to the booth that posts several small photos of its products with descriptive text along side them that can only be read at a distance of 2 feet (0.6 m).

Now, if your company is a service-oriented company, you may have more difficulty posting a single image, but think hard about it. You can usually come up with an image or simple montage that can communicate the essence of your business.