16 Trade Show Booth Design Ideas That Will Make You an Expert-Level Exhibitor
Booth design not only makes or breaks your visibility at a trade show, but it can also make you the biggest (or smallest) competitor among your rival exhibitors. Standing out in a sea of booths is the ultimate goal, but how do you achieve that? We have the design tips you need (16 to be exact) for both 2D and 3D booth ideas that will guarantee your booth is talked about long after the trade show ends.
How Graphics Can Elevate Your Trade Show Booth Design
As a trade show exhibitor, you have one goal: Attract attendees who are relevant to your demographic. To do this, your booth needs to communicate your brand in a creative and simple way. It sounds easy, but it’s an ongoing struggle for both large and small brands across all industries. Here are some tips for attracting your audience to your booth:
1. KNOW WHERE THE VALUABLE REAL ESTATE IS – AND MAKE IT COUNT
Of your entire booth, there’s one focal point that rises above the rest: the back wall. This valuable real estate should be home to your most important graphic (which should communicate your most important message). Whether your booth is small or large, the importance of this space remains the same, so make it count.
2. DON’T OVERWHELM YOUR AUDIENCE
While traditional printed graphics are more effective at communicating a message, display screens are also popular – and can be effective at attracting an audience when used wisely. The key is to use screens for images, logos or a product being used. But leave the important messaging to the printed graphics, and always keep it simple. This will keep your audience from getting overwhelmed and moving on to the next booth.
3. USE SIMPLE MESSAGING
Your brand likely has a tagline. If you’re a good brand, that tagline likely serves as a simple and creative definition of what your brand has to offer. Lead with that message and don’t stray from it. By being clear about who you are and what you have to offer, your booth will effectively draw people in to learn more.
4. HAVE ONE KEY TAKEAWAY THAT YOU WANT ALL ATTENDEES TO REMEMBER
Are you launching a new product? Do you have a new solution to your audience’s biggest problem? This should be your key takeaway, so use your booth design to promote it.
5. FONT CHOICES MATTER
When it comes to fonts, the simpler the better – especially for booth design, when the human eye is struggling with what to look at first. There are general rules of thumb: Sans-serif fonts read easier, never use more than two (maybe three) fonts in the same design, and for every foot away that attendees stand, add an inch of height to the font. Your brand’s style guide may define the font chosen for your booth. But remember to keep it simple so you don’t overwhelm attendees.
6. BE PICKY ABOUT STATIC IMAGES
People are confronted with thousands of still images per day, so if you’re going to use one in your graphics, make it count. They need to be memorable and meaningful to your brand. It’s even ok to not use static image at all. It leaves the focus on your brand, whether it’s your logo or products.
7. USE QR CODES
QR codes are the ultimate upgrade to printed graphics. These barcodes that can be scanned by smartphones are an effective way to direct your audience to any website, online experience, or product. Just make sure that whatever you’re sending them to is memorable and relevant to your brand message.
8. GO EASY ON THE BRIGHT COLORS
Four colors is too much. Ideally, no more than three colors should be enough to represent your brand. This aligns with keeping it simple and not overwhelming your attendees.
9. NEGATIVE SPACE IS YOUR FRIEND
If your graphics have too much design or messaging, you will lose your audience. Ideally, 40% of your graphics should be empty space – putting the focus on your main message. This helps to guarantee that attendees can find your message and remember it.
10. USE HEIGHT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Staying within trade show regulation limits, use your variety of graphic types to your advantage – placing long-range graphics highest, medium-range graphics above the eye, and short-range graphics at about eye-level.
How to Get Creative with Your Trade Show Booth Space
Your booth is more than a table and three walls – it can be anything you dream it to be (within budget and regulation limits, of course). Here are some tips to use your booth space creatively so it attracts attention and disrupts the exhibitor norm:
11. DEDICATE A GOOD PORTION OF YOUR BUDGET TO BOOTH LAYOUT DESIGN
Every brand is constrained by a budget, but don’t forget that the experience a booth provides can get your audience talking. Perhaps doing fewer trade shows would allow your brand to amp up its booth budget.
12. USE CHEAP TECH TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Smartphone charging stations, free WiFi – use cheap technology to your advantage by offering attendees conveniences they don’t expect. This will make your brand memorable, and you can think of creative ways to interact with them while they use your tech (QR codes directing them to your website, for example).
13. DON’T BE AFRAID TO INCORPORATE NATURAL ELEMENTS
Attendees are inside, walking around under florescent lights all day. Incorporating natural elements like wood into your booth design can bring warm and authentic vibes into your space.
14. LIGHTING. LIGHTING. LIGHTING.
With lighting design, the ideas are endless, and it can really set you apart from the competition. Placed around graphics, backlighting, lit physical elements or onto the floor – lighting can elevate your brand and make your message memorable.
15. PHYSICAL AND VISUAL ELEMENTS SHOULD COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER
Whether it’s shelving over graphics or freestanding displays used as additional walls, use the mix of physical and visual elements to create a brand experience for visitors.
16. OFFER ATTENDEES PRIVATE AREAS
Many attendees need meeting areas during trade shows – why not be the brand that can provide that space? By designing a small area or lounge that is semi-private, visitors can use it as needed.
Our bonus tip for you is to invest in booth staff. The right people can handle any trade show issues – including the common booth mishap! With a quality team and a quality booth, you’re setting your brand up for success.