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Creating crowd-stopping trade-show graphics

Graphics | July 1, 2007 | By:

Is bigger better? When it comes to trade show graphics, the answer is a big yes. Big idea. Big image. Big type. Why? Trade show booths are a form of environmental graphics. People read and see and interact with them differently than they do printed graphics. At a trade show, people are in motion, looking up and down the aisles for the one booth that catches their eye. As an exhibitor you have about three seconds to grab their attention before they move on to another booth. The right design can have a big impact on your trade show experience.

The big picture

Communicating who you are, what you do, and what you have to offer in a matter of seconds is not easy. When designing your booth you need to consider how it functions (how the space fits your needs), the marketing objective (why you are there), the budget, and the aesthetics (how it looks). When discussing your booth design ask these questions:

  • Is your booth design market driven with one main objective? Experts agree that one focused message is worth 1,000 words.
  • Will your target audience “get” the design message? It should be simple, direct, and focused.
  • Do your graphics easily identify your company and give a sense of who you are? The right image will grab attention and be more memorable.
  • What do you want the attendee to remember most about your booth?

Standing out in a crowd

Image, typography, and color all play a vital role in trade show graphics. Once you’ve determined the big picture of your booth, you can begin working on the actual design.

Choosing the right image. Whatever image you choose will set the tone for your exhibit. A simple, high contrast, colorful image will give you a head start over the competition. Look for images that are clean (not cluttered), dynamic (have movment) and colorful. If you have to use an image you already have, think about recropping it, setting it on an angle, or using a graphics program to stylize it.

Choosing the right typography. The font you choose should complement the image and convey the right message. In general, fonts with consistent line weights work best. It should be easy to read at a distance of 10-20 feet. For more information see the article on typography in the Jan/Feb issue of Fabric Graphics.

Choosing the right colors. Bold and bright usually capture the eye first. Color can also affect the mood or your audience: red conveys excitement, blue-serenity, green-nature, black-authority, yellow-optimism.

Whatever direction your booth design takes make sure you continue that design in your supporting materials (powerpoint presentations, handouts, give-aways) as well as any promotional materials that you may do before the show. This will enhance your recognition and increase credibilty through consistency.

Marti Naughton, sMart desigN, is a freelance designer based in North St. Paul, Minn.,

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