Exhibition display inspiration - stand out from the crowd


So often we're approached by customers who have booked a space at an upcoming expo and we're asked to quote for a couple of traditional pull-up banners. But what if that's not the best approach for you? It's time to consider something more creative and push away the pull-ups.

The look of your exhibition stand and its ability to portray your brand can make or break your success, so how do you make the right first impression? And how do you stand out from your competitors in such a crowded marketplace?

Budget can play a big factor in your approach to the design of your exhibition stand but not necessarily its success. If you are spending big on high tech, bespoke displays then you need to make sure you’re going to achieve a good return on your investment over the lifetime of the stand - if you’re opting for a more modest spend then you need to get the most impact out of every penny.

Standing out at an exhibition

Let’s consider the typical approach - a large banner stand, perhaps two pull up displays and either a plinth or tablecloth design. If you walk around an exhibition hall you can pretty much guarantee that the majority of the SMEs will have this same set up. The first thing to consider would be - is this the right route for my business or am I just ordering the same setup out of habit? Giving your designer more freedom to explore alternative solutions would be a great first step towards a unique exhibition stand for your business.

If you’re stepping away from the norm then you’re free to explore different heights, shapes, lighting effects and materials

Of course there are certain benefits to this more traditional approach including their ease of use and transport so it’s worth bearing in mind how many team members you’re expecting to be on hand to fabricate the stand on show-day, likewise you should think about your maximum size/weight restrictions for transporting the components to and from the event.

If you’ve made the decision to step away from the norm then you’re free to explore different heights, shapes, lighting effects and materials. Some things to consider are:

  1. How much information do I really need to include on my display? Too often we’re asked to include the life story of a business on a pop-up banner when really a more impactful display would simply include the logo, a short message and your brand colours. From experience people don’t hang around to read paragraphs of text from your banner, they’re more likely to talk to you and as the old saying goes, ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. If you are opting for lighter content then make sure you have plenty of business cards or leaflets to dish out with more detail.
  2. How much space do I have available? If you’ve booked a larger space could you be making more of it rather than just placing banners alongside the outer edges? With clever positioning you can lead visitors into your own little world by introducing sectioned off spaces for more of a 1:1. Think about how interior designers might section off an open plan living space.
  3. Would my target audience prefer to sit or stand? If you’re looking to have a long chat with potential customers then create a small, comfortable seating area for them.
  4. How can I showcase my product/service in its best light? This is the big one! Why would customers use your product? What’s your USP? Is there a creative and interesting way you can get this across to people as they pass by the display?

A different direction

I know what you're thinking: "but I can't afford one of those weird, wacky stands" but stepping away from the norm doesn't have to break the bank, in this post we'll discuss how just a little creative thinking can give you much more impact for much the same budget as your traditional displays.

Recently we were asked by one of our longstanding customers, Staples Vegetables to design their exhibition space for a big trade exhibition they had coming up. They wanted to push the boat out with a stand that would make people stop and take notice with a design that was a little out of the ordinary. So we looked at their products, their packaging, their whole operation and gathered together some inspiration. We noticed that their products - beautiful fresh vegetables - were delivered to retailers across the country in bundles of interlocking plastic crates decorated in their brand colour... eureka! Our solution was to step away from traditional displays altogether and build them a stand using nothing but these crates, stacking them up like lego bricks. Not only did this create an impactful display but it also made the packaging itself synonymous with the brand moving forwards.

We set about mocking up a number of configurations which included open shelves for products, space to attach graphic panels and even ideas for additional seating and display tables. The final concept was bold, on brand and completely unique stopping people in their tracks and making Staples the envy of their competitors. Better still the entire thing folded down into neat little piles that could be set up and packed away quickly and easily by the Staples expo team on multiple occasions.

Use cardboard boxes, wooden crates or shelving units whatever works to build a unique space

Over the years we've seen all sorts of similar approaches with spaces built from lightweight cardboard boxes, rustic wooden crates, pallets and shelving units - all of which can be designed and produced to fit your budget if you're open to doing things differently. What made this approach work so well with the Staples display was its focus on the product. When thinking about your next stand try to consider what it is about your product or your service that makes it unique - this could form the foundation of a truly memorable display.

Setting goals

Going back to the question of budget - how did you come up with this figure? Before you start designing anything or even budgeting for your display try to think about what you want to achieve from the event and what you want to get across to potential customers.

Having a clear goal in mind will not only make the design process more focussed but you’ll have a clear marketing message across the board. Setting targets for the number of conversions you’d like to achieve from the lifetime of the displays will also make it easier for you to budget for an appropriate spend.

As a guide we’d suggest that you should start planning for an exhibition at least 5-6 months before the event itself. This will give you plenty of time to co-ordinate a plan and manage the content creation, design and production process in a stress-free timeframe!

Measuring results

Setting goals is fairly pointless if you're not tracking results and measuring your success in some manner. Depending on what metric you're using to measure 'success' or 'conversion' there are a number of tools you can use to achieve this. Simple solutions include tally counting to record the number of visitors to your display and recording the number of leaflets you have left at the end of the event as a guide to how much you've spread the word. More technical solutions include unique landing pages on your website or unique telephone numbers, both created solely for the event - any visits to which are sure to be from interested parties that you met at the show. If you're selling products or signing people up at the event then absolutely make a note of the final count to give yourself accurate figures to work from. 

By taking all of this into consideration for your next exhibition you should be well on track for a success! Of course, if you'd like any assistance with your exhibition space design then please contact us - we'd love to help!