Just because you’re really good at crafts, and know your way around a scrapbook, doesn’t mean you’re qualified to be your own exhibition stand designer. Even someone with mad art skills, and a familiarity in structural design – unless they can claim several successful campaigns – probably should not embark on creating and designing an exhibition stand.
Image by: GollyGforce – Living My Worst Nightmare’s photostream
Don’t forget that the first thing guests and potential customers see will be that ever-present exhibition stand. You want to draw them in. Great artwork and design are critical – and should, if you’re really serious about promotion, be designed by a professional.
Here’s an example — and a historical reference with serious proven success – the sideshow banner. It’s a great example of how an alluring “exhibition” draws people in, without even a glimpse of the actual “product.” Sure, side shows had “criers” (carny slang for side-show talkers) enticing visitors in for an additional fee and one of three “unusual” acts. At any rate, sideshow banners – elaborately drawn canvas posters which were broken down and erected at each stop – exaggerated slightly, giving the impression that an acts would be more unusual than in actuality (for example, on a sideshow banner, The Mermaid is depicted as the beautiful mythical creature of fairy tales and legends. However, when customers have paid and view the actual “Mermaid,” it is someone suffering from Sirenomelia (aka Mermaid Syndrome), a rare congenital deformity in which legs are fused together, vaguely reminiscent of a mermaid tail. Here’s the thing – while the days of the “freak” show may long be over, the enticing and artstic sideshow banners from that era fetch seriously big bucks, starting at $3500. The draw is everything. The point here, of course, is that the posters, incredibly effective in purpose, not only lured people into the sideshow and separated them from some coin, were so unusually purposeful that the artwork evolved into highly desirable collectibles.
Making Your Event a Production
That said, you must entertain your visitors. Some people resort to today’s gimmicky version of a “crier” to talk people towards their booth, or an actual act of some kind (i.e. magician). But we’re here to stress the importance of spectacular exhibition stand design. A catchy soundtrack, innovative design, colours that pop and intriguing lighting will get the job done. Turn your event into what will be perceived as an actual “event:” create a Facebook page, have someone do a live blog and sent regular tweets from the event. Put your “#hashtag” on your event stand, incorporate into the design artwork – all of these lend a coolness to your exhibition stand. Truly customized art can be featured on the stands, on your Facebook, and Instagram pages. Why not incorporate iPads into the exhibit, too, with that custom, creative artwork as the wallpaper and screen saver? Of course, that artwork should be seen from all angles of your booth and be on all promotional material and cards.
Consider a Consultant
It is important to note, too, that you just don’t want to hire an artist who’ll create a vision based on your interpretation. Seriously consider the added value of exhibition contractors and consultants, which will offer you and your product or service the creativity of the artist, as well as the know-how, and expertise of the exhibition-stand consultant. You don’t want to hedge your bets, but make the best possible presentation and investment return.
Try to imagine the tradeshow as a new guest might – it can be sensory overload, with too many images and noises. The goal is to separate from the masses. The image you want to convey is beyond a solidary graphic image. Design your artwork with shapes, materials, colours, and easy-to-read typography. The design and shape of your actual exhibit is critical as well. Mounting a project, with customized artwork as a big draw, and including the necessary staff, equipment and promotional material presents a large investment for a company, but can also be the reason for big results, too. Combine design, location, personalities, strong follow-through, and the product itself and you’ll be able to tick off success and rewards.