Brand Design, Brand Marketing and Brand Psychology

How To Design Your Trade Show Exhibit For The Right Audience

Posted by sarmistha tarafder on Mar 18, 2014 11:43:00 AM

As Seth Godin puts it, most ramen is pretty good. So is most pizza. But people don't come and visit you at trade shows/events for 'pretty good'. If you want the right people to pay you a visit and engage with you in a meaningful fashion being 'pretty good' does not cut it.

"Pretty good is a choice. It works, often. But it does not change anything"

design principles for trade shows

So if you are exhibiting at trade shows with a booth that lacks the luster of your brand impression or the creative clutch of your marketing message, chances very high that you will not be remembered by your visitors. So the age old dictum "if it aint broken, don't fix it" tarnishes in the face of the new dictum of our times: “If it aint broke, break it. Then build something better.”

Trade show is the final destination of your marketing campaigns. Play offensive. "Don't just buy space and expect miracles because that's like Russian roulette," says trade show coach Susan Friedmann. "Maybe you win, maybe you won't. It's an expensive exercise just to find out it doesn't work." So define your purpose of going to trade shows. It could be brand awareness, lead gathering, checking up on your competition, or something as phenomenal as a product launch. The key is to "Define who you want to come to your exhibit and target them specifically." Once you have defined your audience, now you write down the functional needs that you want your exhibit to achieve. Once the function is taken care of, now you work on the form. How do you do that? The answer:

"Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet." Create an experience around this focal point. When Nestle, decided to exhibit at FNCE, San Diego, their goal was two folds. One, extend awareness of their individual brands, an two, being recognized as the leader in nutritious products. Nestle achieved it successfully by creating an amazing open house in booth 929 to celebrate "Good Food, Good Life."

Granted, all brands do not command the same distinction as Nestle. Nor, all booth requirements are as elaborate. Regardless, the size of your booth if you follow certain design principles you are bound to have an attractive space that will enrich the experience of your target audience.


Our eyes crave for contrast. It is a key factor in holding our attention. Our brain is stimulated by differences: in color, scale, shape, texture and so on. Because, contrast creates a tension it lends a dynamic quality to your space. Each element in your space; be it graphic, text or interactive, has a job to do and each is a piece of the overall message. Hence, wiith creative uses of contrast, you can influence user choices and compel specific actions.
Learn more: Download the visual hand book


“The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar, and is shocked by the unexpected: the eye, on the other hand, tends to be impatient, craves the novel and is bored by repetition.” However having said that, if done skillfully repetition is the underlying force that lends unity to your design. If done right, "it's like a little echo, like waves, poetry itself: At s sub-conscious level repetition is the key to persuasion. Repetition creates a pattern, which gradually grabs our attention and then creates the yearning for familiarity.
Learn more: Download the visual hand book


Alignment connects all the element in your design. It provides visual continuity. All the constituents in your space should have a purpose for their existence. The most empowering condition is achieved when your brand purpose is in perfect alignment with the design of your exhibit. Learn more: Download the visual hand book


Modern neuroscience says: "The brain is fundamentally a lazy piece of meat. It doesn't want to waste energy." In a chaotic environment like trade shows brain appreciates the order that you foster in your space. You do this via proximity. You present ingredients of your design in small groupings that provides organization and calls for optimization of your space.
Learn more: Download the visual hand book

Use of White Space

White space or negative space is not necessarily white. It is simply the expanse in your design that doesnot uphold any graphic, text or media. It is white space that sets the mood of your exhibit and transcends it into an elegant environment. For a lack of better words, you might just say that white space is the much needed oxygen for your exhibit design.
Learn more: Download the visual hand book

Directing Attention

Being able to direct your viewers' attention is one of the staying powers of effective design, spcially in a marketing landscape littered with mammoth media distractions. “The most basic way to get someone's attention is this: Break a pattern." You can achieve this by light, contrast scale and much more. Learn more: Download the visual hand book

Now, that are familiar with the highlighlights of the design principles, go ahead start you next project with your target audience in mind. Remember, you might have marvelous marketing ideas but if it doesnot resonate with you target audience, it pretty much a failed exercise.

Related Articles:


Art of Attracting Attendees

Create Beyond Limits

Encounter With The Unconscious

Topics: Design Tips, Art and nature Inspiration, Art and Design, Architecture, Architectural Display Signs, applied geometry, Booth Design trends 2014, White Space, Directing Attention, Sarmistha Tarafder, Design Principles



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Sarmistha Tarafder is the co-creator of brands in 3 D spaces. Always, in pursuit of essence and enchantment, mind and mystery, myth and matter!