Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Graphic Design’

Graphic Designers for Trade Shows and Events

September 16th, 2021 2 COMMENTS
Graphic Designers

Guest Post by Lori Hanken, Total Displays

So you bought or are renting a new trade show exhibit. It is exciting the possibilities in front of you. When you are on the trade show floor you have one chance to capture someone’s attention. The structure is just part of it. The bigger thing?  

Trade Show Graphics!

Let’s talk graphic design. What do you think of when you hear someone is a graphic designer? Do you think about logos? Websites? Flyers? Social Media? Here is what I think (I really should say know, but I don’t want to sound arrogant). 

Graphic Design is TOO broad of a category. Let’s run a little scenario. You have a “marketing firm”. That marketing firm helps you with campaigns, print campaigns, email campaigns, social media campaigns, maybe some logo design and other fun things like that. Then you decide it is time to update your trade show exhibit. Who do you turn to? Your marketing agency?

Alternatively, it seems like many recent marketing graduates or unemployed graphic designer has created a home based business to offer graphic design services to companies. Be very careful hiring these people without vetting them first. I am all about entrepreneurship, but your trade show graphics will have a HUGE impact on your success at a trade show. 

Let me tell you a little secret. DESIGNING FOR TRADE SHOW DISPLAYS IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THAN ANYTHING ELSE! We have seen trade show graphics that read like a marketing flyer. We have seen backwall graphics that are so busy with lifestyle or action shots and color that your brain goes, ‘WHHHOOOOOAAAA”, just looking at it.

Graphic Design for Trade Show Exhibits

Graphic Design Tips and Advice

You have 2.5 seconds to catch someone’s eye at a trade show or event. Here are some high level things to consider.

  1. People are NOT going to read all your copy. Your trade show exhibit is not a marketing flyer. Yes, I will say this multiple times.
  2. Putting graphics behind a counter or a table? The graphics are lost.
  3. Trying to align images (depending on the system) across structural seams is VERY difficult for fabric graphics.
  4. Putting messaging on the bottom of your display? No one will see them.
  5. Busy, busy, busy graphics with lots of images, color and text will be ignored (unless that is part of your brand).
  6. Images from a website or print media do not generally enlarge well for trade show exhibits.
  7. A jpeg of your logo may not enlarge well.  

We have had numerous interactions with “trade show exhibit graphic designers” over the years. Based on the questions they ask and the designs they create, it’s often pretty clear they do not specialize in trade show graphic design. It is a completely different animal from digital marketing, website, or even print marketing.

Trade  Show Graphic Design

If you are designing new graphics for a trade show exhibit, here are a couple of suggestions.

  • Ask for references from your agency of choice for large format, trade show exhibit design clients.
  • Check their website. A bullet item that says they do trade show booths or graphics, doesn’t mean they excel at trade show graphics.
  • Check their website or ask them for examples of  previous trade show work. 
  • If most of their work is digital marketing, web design and social media marketing? Find another designer. Your bank account will thank you. Your patience will thank you.
  • Make sure you have a library of your marketing assets, logo source files, high resolution images etc. 

Tried and True Suggestions

Here are some simple, tried and true suggestions for trade show graphic design.

  1. Trade show graphics are meant to be viewed from 6 ft. or more away.
  2. Don’t use strange fonts or fancy fonts.
  3. Put important messages or images, like your logo, up high for visibility.
  4. Use white or empty space. Don’t be afraid of white space.
  5. Reference/use PMS colors to be sure to stay true to your brand.
  6. Less is more. Don’t try to put an entire flyer on your trade show graphic.
  7. If this is for a large exhibit, make sure your graphics have a plan and/or coherency, don’t just place random product images on a wall because the wall is there. Have a plan. Be purposeful with your graphics.

If you need help with trade show graphic design? I recommend starting with your trade show exhibit company. A good partner should have resources or recommendations that they know have experience in large format, trade show exhibit design.

Total Displays can help. Contact us a sales@totaldisplays.com or 952-941-4511 to set up a free design consultation call. Click HERE to see more blog posts from Lori Hanken

SEGD (Society for Experiential Graphic Designers) Conference Notes

June 24th, 2016 COMMENTS

SEGDHeader

John Zipay, GM of Exhibits Northwest (Observations)

Last week, I attended SEGD (Society for Experiential Graphic Designers) in Seattle.

The speakers covered topics from Landscapes & Way Finding Signage to Crafting Experiences & Shaping Space with Art. Each topic gave me insights into the creative process. Typically, the artist starts with an idea that evolves into something similar but different during the fulfillment process.

IMG_2076As the creative energies flow, the artist makes changes to get the look they want. More often, it’s the trial and error, the missteps along the way that creates something extraordinary. In other words, their failures contribute to their success. Attending SEGD allowed to take a deeper look into the creative world and understand the importance of creative failure as a stepping stone to creative success.

My brain sees the world as a square grid with capital letters and dollar signs. As a result, I have never been very good at managing designers. SEGD provide me with insights into their world. Going forward, I plan to create an environment that fosters creativity and that allows designers to tap into organic uses of a space, whether exhibits or corporate environments.

While at SEGD, I met with vendors at NEXPO, the conference for directional signage and substrates. Just like in our world, LED’s are the wave of the future in signage and substrates. In the trade show business, large backlit fabric lightboxes grab the most attention on the show floor. This is also true in the world of SEGD. I discovered signage companies backlighting 3-D acrylic letters, plastic-formed logos, and graphics.

Finally, I attended the SEGD Seattle Chapter Networking bash where I talked with local Seattle architects and other creative agencies, including a great conversation with a firm working on the Seattle Waterfront development. I was intrigued by the process of how they incorporate so many creative ideas into functional space planning along the Seattle Waterfront. For example, just imagine the time and spacial studies involved to ensure views of Mt. Rainer and the “Pikes Place” sign are maintained.

Katina Rigall, Design Director (Observations)

What a well-done conference! Several Classic employees attended the SEGD “Experience Seattle” Conference from June 9-11. It was well-attended by top professionals in the Experiential Graphic Design community, well-stocked with expert presenters, and well-staffed with knowledgeable personnel.

IMG_2071The “Experience” conference jumps from city to city each year. Last year it was in Chicago. Next year it will be in Miami. It capitalizes on the intrigue of each host city by pulling together historic and present-day experts who discuss the areas’ architecture and large-scale graphics.

Attendees are encouraged to explore the city. Tours of distinctive landmarks, such as the Space Needle, are part of the conference schedule, and restaurant recommendations are readily provided by all the locals – both presenters and attendees.

What a great way to experience a city! I’m from Portland, just a few hours south of Seattle, but I found myself learning so many things and falling in love with the personality of this place, what locals call the “Seattle Spirit.” How cool to be in the home of innovators like Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Microsoft, and Boeing (in its 100th year of business), just to name a few. Not to mention the valuable networking and education.

So as an exhibit professional, you may be wondering how much of this applies to what we do? Quite a bit actually.

  • Most of the agenda focuses on the large-scale graphics that are applied to built structures in distinctive and informative ways, a.k.a. Experiential Graphic Design. How valuable are well-appointed graphics on a trade show booth? I’m convinced after designing trade show exhibits for nine years now, that booth structures are close to worthless without strong graphics.
  • IMG_2083Quite a few of the presenters shared their expertise with permanent installations, from museum exhibit design to exterior applications of digital and 3D signage. The crossover Classic has experienced in retail and museum projects has steadily grown over the last five years, not to mention exhibitors looking for booth properties that can withstand the outdoor elements.
  • This conference brought together cutting edge architects, installation artists, museum exhibit designers, UX designers, fashion designers, and retail designers, in addition to experiential graphic designers. From a designer’s perspective, any chance to see how other creatives work and what they are doing is beneficial. By bringing together so many different creative mediums, I discovered new ways of approaching design challenges and new technologies. That aspect reminded me of the Gravity Free Conference by EXHIBITOR Magazine for several years which brought together a plethora of design experts to stimulate the cross-pollination of ideas.  The unique element that SEGD’s “Experience” brings is that the experts are all from one specific locale.

Creativity is fluid and crosses a lot of professionals. There is much to be borrowed from the experts in fields adjacent to the exhibit industry. I hope to see you all at next year’s conference.

************************************************************

Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.


 

Seven Questions You’ll Never Ask About Your Trade Show Display

October 13th, 2015 COMMENTS
Questions

Do you believe the expression “There’s no substitute for experience”?

Let’s say you live in Topeka, KS. You’ve tried all the pizza shops in Topeka and have concluded that Johnny’s Pizza is the best pizza — anywhere. I could be wrong, but I suspect there are a few New Yorkers, Bostonians, or Chicagoans who would disagree. But what do they know… they haven’t tried Johnny’s Pizza.

We’ll concede that you know Topeka pizzas. Now, it’s time to buy a trade show display. Unlike lawn mowers, cameras, or smartphones, there’s no Consumer Reports and your experience is limited. So, you do your research on the web, and if you are smart, you consult with a trade show exhibit professional. You ask the right questions about design, assembly, and how much it weighs. You even ask to see the warranty.

However, there are questions you won’t ask. How do I know? Because no exhibit manager has ever asked me these questions… and they should.

Q1. Will the Metal Look the Same After 10 Shows?

Engineered Aluminum Extrusion

Have you ever bought a screwdriver at a discount store only to have the tip twist? So you throw it away and realize that a Kraftsman isn’t a Craftsman. About 60-70% of all trade show exhibits have a skeleton of aluminum extrusion. Sometimes it’s visible, sometimes not. The dirty little secret is that it’s cheaper to use low quality extrusions with thin walls and a sub-par finish. Over time, it distorts, mars, and looks tarnished. Your new booth becomes a used booth before you’ve wrapped-up your current marketing campaign.

Ask about the manufacturer of the extrusion? There are recognized names and then there are Kraftsman. You may not recognize the name but that’s the beauty of Google. If someone tells you, “an extrusion is an extrusion,” walk away.

Q2. What’s the Quality of the Fabric Graphics

The rise of Fast Fashion has revolutionized the apparel industry (think H&M and Forever 21).  There’s a market for disposable fashion. It’s cheap and attractive. But no one expects it to last or have the attention to detail of high-quality apparel.

Fabric for graphics, like clothing, is not all the same. Most inexpensive displays are shrouded with thin, stretchy fabric made with low quality zippers or cheap velcro. And yes, there’s a pecking order to hook and loop as well. The fabric graphic is meant to be disposable… even if it’s not sold that way. You can feel the difference. Trust your hand.

Q3. What’s the Quality of the Fabric Printing

Backlit Fabric Graphics

One ever thinks about this but they should. Dye-sublimated printing, the predominant type of printing for fabric graphics, is a high-tech process. And with any technology, the latest and greatest is old news in about 12-18 months. The previous generation of dye-sub printers get sold to second or third-tier printers. If you’ve ever seen the difference between an HD dye-sub graphic and a 4-color one, you know what I mean. Skin tones are more realistic. Black is black not dark grey. There’s no color banding . You get the picture.

Ask when was the printer was manufactured (not re-manufactured or purchased). And even if it’s only been owned by a little old lady in Pasadena and stored in a garage, it’s still an AMC Hornet.

Q4. Is the Packaging Material Reusable?

Reusable Foam Packaging

You just bought a new pair of Beats by Dre headphones. They sound great, but you’ve decide you want them in black and not fushia. Good luck getting it back in the packaging. It was meant for marketing, not for re-marketing. Far too many trade show displays are packed to prevent damage before the first show. But what about damage after the second, third, or thirty-third show?

High-quality reusable packaging costs more than bubble wrap and thin foam. Smart, well-engineered packaging is like finding $20 in your wedding, funeral, and holiday party pants. It’s an unexpected miracle that keeps on giving.

Q5. Are Replacement Parts Available? 

Folks send me photos asking me to identify a part. That’s rarely an issue if it’s from a major display manufacturer. However, it’s usually from a $699 pop-up or tube structure. Let’s be honest. There are no parts. There never were any parts. It wasn’t sold to have replacement parts any more than a $17 toaster.  It’s meant to go into the landfill after a half-a-dozen uses.

Now if that idea appalls you, then ask your supplier if quality replacement parts are available, what is the cost, and how quickly can you get them? Oh… and if they are only available through Smiling Sammy’s Display Store, then that’s a really, really bad omen. He’s gotta a guy who knows a guy. Good luck with that.

Q6. How Do You Handle Wire Management?

Wireless Charging

There’s no middle ground on this. It looks good or it looks really, really bad. Those electrical and A/V cords have to go somewhere. More often than not, the cord management for most exhibits resembles a hairball. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You have to share what electrical devices will be in the booth and where they’ll be located with your supplier, and that includes anything you maybe renting. Ask your supplier about their solution for lights, monitor cords, etc. If they stumble — run. It means the solution is likely to resemble white twist ties from plastic garbage bags.

Q7. What are the Designer’s (Exhibit and Graphic) Qualification?

Everyone is creative. To a point — chainsaw sculpture, toilet roll cozies, saw blade paintings. I’m not here to judge. Well, maybe a little. Most of us are out of our element when it comes to exhibit and graphic design. And like wire management, there’s no middle ground. Great exhibit designers have years and years of experience working on a variety of projects (custom, portable, modular) with collaborative input from other exhibit designers. That’s how they get experience, perspective, and context.

The same is true with graphic designers but with a twist. They must have experience designing graphics for trade show displays. That’s the key. It doesn’t matter if they are Rock Stars with web design or print advertisements. You don’t want an occasional trade show designer to be the lead designer. If you have an in-house designer familiar with your brand, then make the design process collaborative. Graphic design for trade show displays is a craft. Trade show designers have learned what works and what doesn’t to attract attendees on the show floor.

These questions may make your trade show exhibit supplier uncomfortable. Good. That’s how you’ll know if you chose the right one.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
https://twitter.com/melmwhite

**********************************************

Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.

undefined

How to Speak Graphic Designer (Infographic)

August 25th, 2015 1 COMMENT

How-to-Speak-Designer-Infographic

28 Design Terms Marketers Should Know

Wow! Two sensational infographics within a week. This one should be printed, framed, and hung on the wall next to every graphic designer and marketing manager. No more misunderstandings about leading and kerning. No more wasted conversations about web-friendly fonts. No more confusion about UI and UX.

Our thanks to Sarah Matista at Pagemodo.

Pagemodo-How-to-Speak-Designer-Infographic

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
https://twitter.com/melmwhite

**********************************************

Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.


 

How Your Eyes Move on a Website [Cool Inforgraphic]

August 13th, 2014 COMMENTS

Single Grain designed this excellent infographic that explains:

  1. How our eyes move on a website or blog,
  2. How web design influences eye movement and interaction, and
  3. Proposes tips for creating an effective website design.

I thought this might be helpful to Classic Distributors redesigning their website. It’s a topic I hear almost every day since so many distributors have branded versions of Exhibit Design Search.

Enjoy!

how-your-eyes-move-on-a-website-infographic-internet-marketing-with-blog-optimization

–Mel White
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
mel@classicexhibits.com

**********************************************

Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.