There comes a period in the life of virtually every organization when it’s abundantly clear that it’s time for a new trade show booth design. Maybe your company has never had a booth and is now ready to take the plunge. Or, maybe you already have one but it is outdated, worn out or simply no longer a good representation of your brand.
A great presence on a show floor can reap huge dividends – and thanks to rental options, getting a genuinely fabulous and head-turning booth ready for prime time need not break the bank either.
So if you’re ready for that booth, there’s no need to delay. Well, maybe just a little. Like anything to do with your brand, some basic due diligence is always a good idea.
How To Start Designing Your Trade Show Booth
Here are some top-drawer questions that we recommend you ask (your colleagues, your exhibit house, and yourself) before entering into the trade show exhibit design process.
1. Who will our booth speak to…and what’s the message?
When designing a trade show booth, it’s important to ask yourself, “what’s my goal with this booth?” and “who do I need to impress?” Just as with any other marketing or advertising materials, it is vitally important to know your audience. Are you a startup wanting to increase brand exposure? Are you already well established, but want to be sure you have a strong presence among your competitors? Do you have a new product (or several) that you’d like to showcase?
2. What do we need the booth to do?
Think of your booth as part of your marketing team. What are the tasks you need it to accomplish to be effective? Will it be showcasing products, product literature or both? Will it house presentations and/or lectures, private or semi-private meetings, product or service unveilings, or all of the above? Or is it simply meant a serve as an interactive signpost for your organization and brand? Knowing and prioritizing your specific objectives for your booth and how many “moving parts” that entails, will help you map out a more effective overall design.
3. What’s our (realistic) budget?
Making intelligent decisions about functionality early on in the design process will help you to focus your budget and give you the best chance at a successful return on investment. Talk with your exhibit house about what you want to achieve and for what price so you can move forward with realistic expectations and an aesthetic appeal that will integrate to sell your brand’s experience. Then find out how much your company can set aside to invest in the booth. If you find yourself restricted by a limited budget, you might consider exploring a rental option. You can get significantly more bang for your buck with a rental, and put your best foot forward with a stunning booth for a fraction of what it would cost to purchase. Plus, with a rental you won’t be limited by the additional costs (storage, repair, etc.) that come with a purchase solution.
4. What location and size will work best for your company on the show floor?
With trade show booth design, bigger isn’t always better. Too much empty space implies your company doesn’t have all that much to say. Conversely, a booth that is too small for your purposes can quickly become cluttered and not functional. Once you’ve considered questions 1 and 2 above, you can start determining what kind of location and size will be best for your specific needs. Also remember that your ground space is only part of the equation. You can double your physical space with a double deck rental booth or tower above the competition’s structures with a 20’ height variance.
5. What special features do we need to maximize functionality?
Don’t wait to be on the show floor, enviously admiring your competition’s booth layouts before you decide on some of the significant design features that would make your booth “work” better at the show. Having presenters or special mini-events in your booth? Providing a unique and exciting theater section as part of your layout can be ideal for presentations. Having meetings on site? Consider creating an inviting hospitality lounge in your space complete with device charging stations to help lure and maintain traffic. Need to stand out on a competitive floor? How about including a uniquely eye-popping hanging sign as a functioning element of your booth by utilizing the inside or bottom for product information? Artistic feature walls are another feature that have been trending. Will you be needing a monitor? If so, how large and what role will it play as part of your booth? How about demo stations? If you’re going to have product demos that require stations, it’s a good idea to sketch out in your mind how many you’ll need before the design process.
6. Are there particular stylistic themes or flourishes that might better represent your brand?
Sometimes some of the most memorable elements of an exhibit space are to be found in the little details. Surfaces, fabrics, textures, colors, lighting, furniture, flooring, etc. are style elements that are too often considered trivial during the design process. Think about what “bits and pieces” you’d like to include in your booth space and what they say about your brand and your company culture. You might trigger some great ideas by downloading our latest design style guide.
The six questions above are by no means a comprehensive checklist, but if you spend a little time considering each, you will be well ahead of the game going into the design process. You may not know all the answers to these questions, either, but that’s why there are professionals that work on trade show exhibits every day who can help walk you through the elements you aren’t sure of. This preparation is a relatively simple process that will put you and your company on the road to trade show success for many years to come!