Strategic “smart design”
– Don’t buy a pretty picture unless that’s all you need!
Getting the right tradeshow exhibit to fit your specific needs and deliver on your unique objectives requires some strategic thought and process along with a deep understanding of how your environment will perform on the show floor alongside a crowded floor of competitors.
Often clients approach the process of buying a tradeshow exhibit or marketing environment as if it were a design contest, finding one or two exhibit production companies and asking them each to deliver their own version of a finished booth design that will appeal to you and possibly a committee of decision makers that will weigh in on the final designs and then pick one based on an emotional response as if they were purchasing a piece of art.
This not the best way to go about this process for a variety of reasons, first off design by nature is subjective. No two people will have the same tastes or preferences when it comes to a design, a style or a look. When decisions are made up the ladder, or by committee, this exasperates the issue and clouds the real importance of how your environment performs as opposed to how it looks.
Having a finished design that looks great, represents your company brand well and pleases all the stakeholders is (of course) very important, but the final look should be a byproduct of the front-end strategic heavy lifting, not the starting point. The design or “pretty picture” should be the last step of a carefully managed and thoughtful process to insure your tradeshow exhibit environment delivers on ALL your objectives and leaves a lasting impression with your audience.
When you work with an experienced tradeshow exhibit professional who understands the big picture of how tradeshows work, how traffic will flow into and out of your booth, how show regulations and design principles play out on a crowded tradeshow floor you are off to a good start. Doing a deep dive into your unique marketing objectives, your product or service, your position in your market, what differentiates you from your competitors and very importantly, your brand and what would best convey it to your attendees are all critical first steps to a great looking AND effective marketing environment.
Then there are all the practical considerations that must be addressed upfront like adequate traffic flow and control patterns, working spaces that allow your booth staff to be efficient and effective as they are showing your product or service to your audience and capturing critical leads. Basic considerations like adequate storage, appropriate lighting, private or semi-private meeting areas, proper graphic positioning and my favorite… effective branding!
As an example many tradeshow exhibit designs have poor company branding. Walk down a typical tradeshow aisle and notice how many booths do a good job of distance branding, meaning you can see their brand from across the floor. However, when you approach from 10 feet away that overhead branding is no longer visible and when you step into the booth perhaps the close range branding is above your view. Well thought out Branding is a critical component of good tradeshow booth design and effective design will include appropriate company branding and messaging at all levels.
We have covered some of the many aspects of a well thought out or “smart design” process for a tradeshow exhibit or marketing environment without actually seeing a “pretty picture” and that is the point of this article. There is so much strategy and thought that should take place before any design is done. Covering these points in depth upfront will insure that the final product or environment is much more than just a pretty picture. It insures that your space is an effective marketing environment where you will get maximum return on your investment.
So, don’t rush to the final design. Make sure that all the foundation work is done properly and strategically. Form follows function is a tried and true design statement that applies to all design that has to serve a function. Tradeshow exhibits and marketing environments definitely fit this category.
If it just hangs on your wall and is pleasing to look at, it’s called art, not design.
The BA team.