Exhibition stand graphics can create both a positive and a memorable experience for visitors to a trade show stand.
As with all marketing strategies, stand graphics should be planned with clear aims and goals.
Stand branding, the delivery of content and even the choice of graphics all contribute to the overall success of trade show participation.
When implemented with some key fundamentals, graphics can help you attract show visitors.
More importantly, excellent graphics can help you attract the right show visitors.
The route to great graphics: No. 1. Source the right designer
If possible, choose a designer that understands large-format printing.
Someone who can be confident that a design that looks good on a screen will also work successfully when produced on a larger scale.
While it’s not essential, it will help if your designer has experience of working in an exhibition environment.
With this experience they will have a far better understanding of;
- How your message can be conveyed
- The environment in which your graphics will be seen and displayed
2. Content is king
A common mistake is to try and use every bit of stand wall space for content and images.
Taking this approach leads to a stand that is cluttered and confusing.
Content should be created and presented in a format that ideally leads a visitor to an interaction with somebody on the stand.
Or, to request more information either during or after the event.
Aim to present your message in bite-size pieces of information that can be read quickly and clearly. This will help you maximise the short window of opportunity that visitors have to scan your stand.
3. Brand consistency is vital
This 4m high graphic formed the back wall for a 6m x 4m stand for Fincorp. It serves a number of roles for the exhibitor. It’s an excellent back wall for the stand. Visitors can see very clearly who the exhibitor is and, the graphics tie-in with an advertising campaign that Fincorp was running at the time of the show.
Brand recognition across a sea of heads in an exhibition hall is what you want to achieve and graphics can help you to do this.
Always ensure that the images and text used on your stand graphics are a continuation of your brand.
Don’t use exhibition participation as an opportunity to try a new approach or refresh of your branding. That’s a bad idea.
And especially don’t do this if there is a possibility of creating a disconnect with your usual and ongoing branding. You will just confuse people as to who you really are.
4. Exhibition graphics: Quality always works best
When compiling the content for stand graphics ensure that any imagery, illustrations or other content are of a high quality at their source.
Print technology, substrates, and other graphics-related materials have progressed hugely in recent years.
What this means is that any imperfections in image resolution will show when printed.
This is especially noticeable when images ate placed alongside pin-sharp text.
Your designer or production team should be able to advise if any content is likely to reproduce at a lower quality than you expect.
Because of this, it’s quite acceptable to ask your supplier to provide a small printed sample prior to producing the graphics for the entire stand.
This is helpful and critical if particular colour references need to be achieved.
Where this situation occurs, colour matching should be agreed with your supplier before the supply and installation of your graphics.
5. Research the graphic packages that are available to you
Most event organisers will be able to suggest recommended graphics suppliers to you.
In fact, it’s not uncommon to be presented with various design and supplier options.
Individual graphic panels that integrate neatly with the stand structure are the most common option.
Alternatively, you might be offered printed fabric graphics stretched across a backlit aluminium frame.
This treatment creates a truly seamless graphic finish as deep, printed fascia panels cover the outward facing upper sections of stands.
Printed floor graphics can also be incorporated to enhance the overall branding and impact of your exhibition space.
Of course, costs will always have an influence on your final decision.
Talk to your graphics supplier or designer as they may be able to help you get the best value from your graphics budget.
I’ve seen some great examples of small spaces being turned into high-impact stands for exhibitors on a tight budget.
6. Don’t leave your message in the shadows
When planning the layout of your stand graphics, always be mindful of any other items on your stand that may potentially obscure your message.
Typical things that can snag a view include hired furniture, water coolers, and desks.
Ensure your important message is placed within the top two-thirds of the stand wall if possible.
Your primary content should be closer to eye level. This way obstructions from other items on the stand are minimalised.
When placing products or exhibits on your stand, think about how the content on your graphics contributes to the presentation of your products.
The example above shows how placement of content can still be effective, even on a multi-purpose stand.
7. Set the scene
Always consider the orientation of your stand and its position in relation to other features within the exhibition hall.
And, try and estimate the potential flow of traffic through the show. Doing this, you may find that one wall, in particular, has the most visibility with visitors.
Placement messages with this fact in mind.
Show floorplans can change
Remember that it’s not uncommon for the layout of features and stands at exhibitions to change. It’s a really good idea to check the show floorplan from time to time.
If layout changes occur, they could have a detrimental outcome on the visibility of your stand graphics.
Advance knowledge may provide the time to get your graphics and stand layout altered.
8. Aim high
If you are looking to achieve greater exposure you may want to consider hanging graphics.
A hanging banner placed above your stand could be considered.
Alternatively and more cost-effectively, you could use a tall “feather flag.”
These items are great for brand exposure from a distance. In some cases they are used as a point of reference for visitors; “I’ll meet you by the tall [insert YOUR company name here] flag”.
Also, if handled with care, these graphic items can be re-used at future events.
9. Aim higher still!
Some venues allow quirky solutions such as branded, helium-filled PVC balloons that can be flown above your stand.
These will certainly help you stand out from your competitors.
Before committing to an option above your stand, always ensure that it is permitted by the event organiser and the venue.
You should also ensure that it won’t be obscured by any other stands, banners or fixed signage within the venue.
Good graphics have the power to transform the impact of a stand at a trade show.
They can make a small stand appear bigger, they can make a stand more visible from the others that surround it in a busy hall.
And yes, they can help you attract the right people to your stand.
For all of these reasons don’t leave the organisation of your graphics to the last minute.
Graphics are too valuable an asset to neglect.
Done well they will provide you with a stand that not only works extremely well but looks highly professional too.
About the Author
Dan Robins has over 15 years of experience as a designer working with exhibitors, event organisers and exhibition venues across the UK and Europe. From a family with strong roots in the printing industry, Dan began his career in the exhibition world in 2000 at a Birmingham based graphics company, and in 2010 launched a design agency, Forme Creative, which now works with a wide range of clients helping deliver their brands effectively, through creative graphic design, web design and print. More information about Dan can be found on his LinkedIn profile.