At any trade show, your challenge is to stand out from the crowd. Whether you are trying to attract prospects or make sales, you are literally surrounded by your competition. You need your booth to be more than just acceptable – it has to be exceptional and serve as a lure to pull attendees into your space.

Much of the success of a trade show comes down to the design of the booth. AAA Flag & Banner has helped many brands create and execute plans that have elevated their show presence and captivated attendees. Now, we’ve gathered some tips as food for thought as you think about the look of your next trade show exhibit.

1. Take Advantage of All of Your Space from Floor to Ceiling

Every inch of your trade show booth is valuable real estate – and that includes more than just what is at eye level. In order to get the most from your attendance, you need to think of it in three-dimensional terms. Finding ways to utilize areas both high and low will allow you to maximize your space and create an exciting experience for attendees.

One example is the actual show floor. Many companies are content to stick with the standard carpet and wind up ignoring the potential for branding and design that can come from unique flooring. Interesting flooring can transform your exhibit area and set the tone for the rest of your booth design.

At AZE, we use a variety of materials and techniques to help our clients add spice to their exhibit space flooring. One popular option is printing on Show Floor mats. These tiles can be interlocked to create one larger piece of flooring. This option allows for the same design to be easily installed, removed and transported, making it a great choice for companies who want to reuse their flooring at various events.

Another option is removable decals, which can be installed by AZEr onto existing flooring. This is an affordable and attractive option for one-time use and offers an almost limitless amount of design possibilities.

2. Tell a Story With Your Booth Design

Just like with any other form of marketing, it’s important to identify your key message when designing your trade show booth. What’s the purpose of being at the show in the first place? What’s the most important thing that you want people to take away from visiting your booth? You’ll need to have solid answers to these questions before you start designing your exhibit.

When looking at a visual element such as trade show graphics, people’s eyes naturally want to be drawn to the largest or most prominent element. Building your design around a focal point allows you to direct attendees’ attention to the key message you want to communicate. Use larger fonts and logos and brighter colors to highlight your key messages so that they capture attention first.

If you’re reading this blog post, your eyes are going from left to right. Because we’re used to reading this way, this is how our brains typically process visual information. You can use this to your advantage when laying out your booth design. If you have multiple elements that tell a story, position the item you want people to read first to the left and then progress to the right.

3. Make Sure Your Fonts Are Easy to Read

Font selection is critical for the success of your booth. A large part of this comes down to selecting fonts that are easy to read from far distances. After all, what’s the point of having text as part of your design if people can’t understand what it says? A readable font can be the difference between an attendee being intrigued by your message and wanting to learn more and being confused and staying away.

So, what makes a “readable” font? According to Fonts.com, the easiest fonts to read are the ones that are the most unassuming. In general, you’ll want to avoid fonts that:

  • Are excessively light or bold
  • Have broad differences in weight changes within character strokes
  • Contain serifs that are dramatic or out of proportion with the rest of the font

You’ll want to avoid cursive fonts or the overuse of italics – it might seem that these elements will make your text pop, but in reality, it will likely just impact readability. You can use one font for the entire display or introduce a second font for headlines and larger print, but you’ll want to limit your design to no more than two.

4. Don’t Place Your Key Messaging Below Waist Level

Along with determining your key message and designing around it, it’s also critical to consider its placement. After all, if attendees can’t see your message, they can’t respond to it.

For this reason, it’s important to place your key message at waist level or higher. This will ensure that it can be seen from across the show floor and not be obscured by other exhibits. In addition, people’s eyes are naturally drawn to elements that are near their eye level – placing then too high or too low can lead to them being not seen or thought of as unimportant.

5. Only Use High-Res or Vector Images

Printing an image on your booth based on a low-quality original will create a final product that is blurry, blocky and pixelated – not the impression you want to give show attendees! Using a high-resolution image is a necessity if you want to use a photo as part of your design.

One way to avoid an issue with image resolution is to create vector-based artwork. They can be scaled up to an infinite size without losing their clarity or crispness. If you are going to use a raster-based image, AZE recommends that you create an image that is the same size as the final product at 100 dpi. If this is not possible, you can use this equation to determine the acceptable minimum resolution:

600 ÷ viewing distance in feet = “x” dpi

So, if your image is going to be viewed from 10 feet away, you will need a minimum resolution of 60 dpi.

6. Use a Refined Color Palette

Color matching is more than just art – there is a definite science behind it. An article by Scanalytics pointed to a few interesting color psychology facts:

• Orange, yellow and blue are considered to be “happy” colors that will put viewers into a better mood when they seem them being used.
• Content is more likely to be read when posted against a yellow background than any other color.
• A study showed that people prefer a palette of a few colors rather than one that has multiple hues.

You’ll obviously want your basic color scheme to reflect your company’s branding, so doing things like having a yellow background for your booth graphics may not be appropriate. However, having a simple color palette is something that any brand should consider. As a rule, you should stick to a primary color for your booth with no more than two complementary colors.

7. Don’t Bury Your Company’s Name and Vital Information

Your trade show booth serves as an advertisement for your business. While you should have business cards and collateral available for people who stop at your booth, you need to let people know the most important information about your business (such as a website address, phone number or contact email) at a glance.

Take this into account when you are designing your booth. Make sure that the vital information is featured in a prominent place on your signage, and at a size that is legible to attendees from a distance. After all, a person might not have the time to stop by your booth for a chat but might be interested in checking out your website after the show is over.

8. Use Lighting Wisely

No one wants to visit a dark booth – an underlit booth can feel sad and lonely! Lighting is a great way to attract the attention of attendees and make your booth feel like a warm and welcoming place. But you want to be careful with how much lighting you use. An overlit booth can be as off-putting as an underlit one – bright and harsh lights can be a distraction and keep people away.

One smart way to use lighting is through the use of backlit panels. This allows the lighting to be an accent to your booth design rather than dominating it. Backlighting highlights the most important elements of your booth and can increase emphasis on the focal points of your design.