Tradeshow and Exhibit Thoughtleaders
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Sarmistha Tarafder's Articles

Color and the Power of Communication at Trade Shows


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Color is a channel for non-verbal communication. It communicates to us at a cellular level.

Zara Stender, chair holder with the Color Marketing Group (CMG) professes the power in color to influence moods, emotions, hunger, aggression—and buying decisions. “Color increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent, and it can be up to 85 percent of the reason people decide to buy,” as Stender mentioned in the Global Shop Conference 2012.

Trade show exhibitors and designers use color to create a visually pleasing environment in their trade show displays, and color used purposefully communicates with customers and prospects. To build a welcoming trade show exhibit, Stender recommended avoiding high-contrast colors—such as yellow and black, which she calls “danger colors.” Complementary colors, help to balance the eye. However if you want to convey a message of subliminal concentrated focus use high contrast colors. Also important is to anchor the space in true neutral; which can be created by mixing the designs’ entire palette and adding white. “Color is not only useful in designing a space, but also in knowing your customer,” Stender said.

Interestingly, as Stender explains, color is correlated with socio-economic status, with more complex colors associated with higher economic status. For example, an orange sports car will be referred as “bronze” or “copper.” Alternatively, primary colors are often associated with affordability. (Think the subliminal message that IKEA portrays)

Of course, colors across cultures carry different meaning. For example the color purple signifies royalty and spirituality in the Greco-Roman culture of the West. However, purple is the color of mourning for widows in Thailand and in some parts of India.

On an individual level, Stender explained that introverts tend to gravitate toward soft, muted palettes, while extroverts are happier in vibrant environments. Using color strategically, designers can create a balance that plays into both of these personalities in any environment. “The earmark of an extrovert is that they can’t focus,” Stender said. “When dealing with them on a sales floor, blues can help them to focus.” An introvert, on the other hand, might be inspired by just the right proportion of color richness.

Some color associations, according to Stender:
Red: Lust (has the power to alter time)
Yellow: Aggression
Orange: Affordability
Purple: Spirituality (inspires loss of impulse control)
Brown: Dependability (especially in business)
Blue and green: Focus and concentration
Burgundy and dark green: Tradition and authority
Red and purple: The “I’ll buy anything” color combination, according to Stender. “Red being lust—‘I wanna spend’—and purple being associated with loss of control.”

Ultimately, a buyer can be influenced by a number of things on the trade show floor. Put more control of how you are perceived in your own hands. When planning the design of your next trade show display, remember the powerful affect color can have on the mind of a buyer.

© 2012 by Sarmistha Tarafder