How do you stand out at the
conference, trade show or event? How do you have the exhibit or
environment that represents your brand well yet rises above the
rest? Here is a hint… it is not all about having the tallest
booth on the floor. Having a great designer who can help
translate your brand into a three-dimensional space is ideal.
They can take your marketing strategy and brand and create an
experience. However, you don’t always have the budget or the
time to go all out. Here are some tips gleaned from some of
our Skyline designers you can use to elevate your look so your
Company brand gets the attention it deserves.
Use Color Wisely
One of the first elements of your
brand that will be noticed and likely remembered by viewers is
color. In fact, a
Marketing study done by the University of Loyola on color
indicates that the right color can increase brand recognition by
Ensuring that the exhibit
elements you select are brand appropriate yet don’t blend in
along with everything else on the show floor is key. An
states that “The relationship between brands and color hinges on
the perceived appropriateness of the color being used for the
particular brand”. Know your industry and your competition.
If all the other exhibits are green and white, then consider
using one of your brand accent colors as the main background
color if your logo is green with a white background. This will
help you stand out on the show floor.
- Higher is not always
While you want to be visible on
the show floor,
hanging a sign as high as possible is not always the best
choice. Other factors to consider include how to tie in your
ground supported elements to hanging structures, what other
exhibitors are likely to do (if you all hang a sign at 24” that
will not help anyone stand out) if you are not sure what they
will do, look at photos of the show from prior years or talk to
someone who attended the show to get some insights.
By integrating your ground
elements to any hanging or tall signage you will help draw the
eyes to your exhibit and define the space. By doing this your
exhibit is more likely to stand out among a sea of hanging signs
even if it is lower than the others.
- Contrast trumps
Backlit is a great way to get
attention if you are the back booth in a dark show. Yet, if
everything in your booth is backlit then the eyes of the viewer
don’t know what to focus on. It is too much. Instead,
consider backlighting key elements of your message or logo and
using regular down lights or no lighting for the rest. You will
create contrast and the eyes of your viewer will go to where you
need them to go.
Spotlighting just key areas on
your sign like logos or just a couple of sides of a hanging cube
can be just as, or more, effective than lighting everything.
Also, you can save some money by being selective about what you
- Take your Logo out
Your logo does not have to stay
flat at a show or event. This is your chance to showcase your
brand from a different perspective. Whether it is creating a 3D
sign and lighting it from different angles, mirroring the logo
image in a hanging sign, or even using it to create a unique,
yet subtle, background pattern you can create a surprising
element for your audience.
Check out how the structure
mirrors the logo a couple of different ways in the exhibit.
The structure captures additional interest by having a high
signage element that ties into the ground structure.
- Don’t forget about
Are you exhibiting in Las Vegas?
Maybe there is something about your brand that can speak to
that. You can either play up the Vegas look by including some
neon signs or go completely counter-culture and provide an oasis
to escape from that. What is the rest of the competition
doing? You want to be sure not to do that. We saw a company
do sparkly lanyards in Vegas. Very simple but it was a huge hit
with that crowd.
What message are you trying to
send at the show?
What does your brand stand for? Is there something
newsworthy or transformational happening in your company or with
the industry? Do you have a theme that follows that messaging or
ties into benefits for a product you are launching? This
should all be communicated to your designer as they can use that
information to create a space that communicates these messages
in a unique and memorable way.
- Creating Curiosity
While you don’t want the name and
brand of your Company to be a mystery, you can get attention by
inciting curiosity about the experience you are providing, the
new product you are launching or just the environment of your
You can do so by sending a
carefully worded invitation providing clues about what you are
doing but leaving some details out for prospects to wonder
about. For example – “We will be demoing our new product and
giving away gift certificates to top rated restaurants in
downtown Chicago to the first 10 people to try out the demo.”
You can also create mystery by
providing a peek into the experience you have created with
partial walls, curtains, windows or sheer material. Prospects
can see there is something fun going on but they can’t quite
tell what it is. Layering fabric can create different views of
the same space creating as our designer Andrew Forchas says,
“another chance to make a first impression”.
One particularly intriguing
exhibit I saw at EuroShop had three displays with windows in
them. They looked like little birdhouses. To look in the
window you had to climb the ladders and look in. I saw
multiple people climbing that ladder and later having
conversations with the staffers.
- Make Motion
A pet peeve of our designers is
being asked for a round rotating hanging sign. Why is that?
Do they have an unfounded aversion to round signs? No, but they
do have a natural aversion to doing the same thing for every
client. They want our client’s exhibits to look great and to
stand out. While there may be times a round, rotating sign can
accomplish this, there are many other ways that are likely to
work even better. Assuming your objective is to draw passersby
to your exhibit through movement here are some options:
- Use Digital – A monitor with
a great video or just a presentation showing your logo, top
products and key messaging can create movement and tell a
complete story especially when your staffer takes the time
to explain the content to visitors
- Fabric movement – An exhibit
can have hanging fabric that moves with the natural breeze
in a show or the air of a fan. Only do this if it makes
sense for your brand.
- Project your brand –
Depending on the lighting at the show you may not be able to
clearly project words or a complex message but you can
certainly project shapes or a repeating pattern of your logo
or a shape associated with your product or theme.
- Demo your product – Do you
have machinery that could move in a demo periodically. What
a great way to create attention! A great demo one of our
designers created was showing a clients’ waterproof product
functioning under a waterfall. This not only created
motion and attention with the water but showcased the
benefits of the product very well.
- Impress with Less
It is so tempting to want to show
all your wonderful products! And, I know many of you are
pushed by conflicting interests and often must answer to
multiple teams who want you to show what they are working on.
However, think about your last experience at a store you were
walking by at the mall and entered. What made you go in?
Would you have gone in if they had 20 products showcased on the
window instead of 3? Would you have noticed the one thing that
drew you in?
Also, think of the nicest stores
you go to at the mall, such as Apple, Ann Taylor, or Nordstrom.
How many times do you see the logo out in front? The logo is
certainly very visible at every entrance but once you are inside
they rely on the ambiance, their sales associates, and
merchandise to tell the branding story. Keep this in mind when
you consider how often and how large a logo needs to be. A
good rule of thumb is to “use the company logo as a focal point
in your normal field of view” shares Andrew Forchas. Instead of
repeating a logo you can expand your visuals and create space to
use your other visuals – advises designer Amy Kubas.
Another trick is to be picky
about what you merchandise. Designer Stephanie Pheneger says
“You can always bring extra product that you think you may want
to show clients, but store it in a closet or cabinet until you
need it”. This way you don’t have to clutter up your exhibit
yet have the product you need just in case. By keeping the
space cleaner, you reduce the stress of the viewer and you can
better define the focus of what you want them to look at.
- Tell a Story
People remember stories. A fun
way to hook your audience is to give them an unexpected element
and get them curious to find out more. Telling a story works
better if you have a more involved client but, done right, it
can create that double take and, bonus, talk value after that.
ExhibitorLIVE show, we set out to do just that. We started
with an insight. Our clients were stressed out and needed
someone to take care of all their exhibiting needs so they could
relax. Our internal agency Skyline 360 came up with the theme
Experience Trade Show Zen. Our designer was then
asked to create an environment that would showcase a
show-stopping Zen Garden Experience and would also showcase the
full capabilities of Skyline demonstrating that we could take
care of the broad range of Exhibiting tasks so they could sit
down and relax – Experience Trade Show Zen. We wanted clients
to stop in their tracks and ask themselves if this was the
Skyline they thought they knew. We sent out digital and paper
invitations, we created a
blogged about the experience we were creating. The draw was
an environment with a digital Koi pond surrounded by real
plants, larger than life tree graphics, hot tea, and sweets.
The entire structure was inspired by nature and created the calm
feeling of being in a garden. The clients we welcomed felt
understood, they loved the exhibit and we were able to start
some great conversations and win Best of Show!
- Be Different &
Can you create an element of
surprise that is not expected in your industry show, yet ties
into your company or messaging? Stephanie Pheneger shares that
some industrial companies assume they need to use
truss hardware for their exhibit because that is what is
expected of an industrial company. However, if the objective
is to stand out and get a double take, you may want to stay away
from what everyone else is doing and convey your message of
strength, reliability or innovation without the truss.
Another way to stand out is to
use crowd gatherers, mascots or
unique giveaways. Crowd Gatherers get a bad rap but can be
invaluable to communicate your basic messaging to someone
walking by your booth. They can be especially helpful if you
can have them wear something that ties into your theme. One
year our dealer in Spain had staffers wear and give away black
rimmed glasses with tape in the middle to highlight how they
were trade show nerds who could see things differently. It
made people stop and ask and then they would share how these
were special glasses that could help you see things differently
and encouraged visitors to use them.
Well thought out giveaways can
help you stand out and tie into your company or theme. One of
our clients sent out golf balls to high-value prospects and then
invited them to participate on a hole in one contest for the
chance to win a high-value driver. Not only were they able to
attract top prospects to their booth, the activity itself
attracted attention from people walking by. Also, the
messaging tied into their brand message about quality and
accuracy in their field.
In summary, people are attracted
to beauty and notice what is different from their surroundings.
When someone walks into a space, they stop and look if the space
is attractive to them. They are more likely to come in, if they
have an open pathway, and if there is something of interest and
a reason for them to enter the space. Is there interesting
content? Maybe a video, a presentation a demonstration?
Also, there must be a reason for each product or message
featured on your display. It is best to have less product, as a
cluttered space is not inviting. Ensure your Company brand is
recognizable and stands out. Designer Amy Kubas puts it this
way “Imagine how you would display a valuable piece of art in
your living room. You would ensure it has a place of honor
that is noticeable, uncluttered and well lit. Treat your logo
in that same way.”
© 2017 by Sofia Troutman