Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Graphics’

8 Things Your Trade Show Display is Trying to Tell You

August 27th, 2019 COMMENTS

Everyone and everything has a story, including your trade show display. Many displays have seen things you haven’t, like the chaos of the marshaling area of a convention hall. You might want to listen to what your display has to say as you prepare for your next show.

My Crates Require a Hammer to Open or Close Them

Most exhibit houses build sturdy wood crates designed to withstand the abuse of shipping and material handling. But even the best crates don’t last forever. Bolts and wingnuts go missing, latches get bent, and doors and lids no longer fit without a little aggressive massage. Visually, your crate looks like it lost a street fight to a woodchipper.

New Wood Crates

You need to make a decision. If you plan to keep your exhibit for a while longer, then you should probably replace the crate(s). A new crate will ensure your exhibit has the best chance of surviving future shipments and drayage. Plus, if your exhibit has changed over time, the new packaging will be jigged to protect those extra components. No one, including the labor crew, likes to wrestle with a worn-out crate at the end of the show. It’s frustrating and eventually expensive.

My Instructions No Longer Match the Parts and Pieces

Very few exhibits remain the same over time. Graphics change, accessories are added, and broken and lost parts replaced. Your booth evolved as marketing plans change and that’s a good thing. However, with each change, the instructions no longer match the current design. Now, only one person knows how to assemble it.

This can’t continue. In most cases, your exhibit house can assemble the booth in their facility, check and replace any numbering, and print new graphics. If your exhibit house didn’t build it, then they will contact the manufacture for updated instructions based on their notes.

My Graphics are Dirty, Scratched, or Delaminating

Too often, we don’t see what others do. Think of those times someone pointed out a stain on your shirt/blouse that you didn’t see. Trade show graphics have a limited life, either because your message changes or they get damaged or dirty due to repeated handling. On the show floor, first impressions are always lasting impressions.

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Not Dirty, Scratched or Delaminating

What’s with ALL the Extra Parts?

When the booth was new, there were no “extra” parts and pieces. Replacement parts, perhaps, but no extra ones. So what happened? The answer isn’t always straight-forward. If you’ve ever seen a booth that leans a bit or graphics that don’t fit perfectly, it’s usually because someone took a shortcut assembling the display. Which means, they didn’t bother reading the instructions.

Hey, the Rental Booth Across the Aisle Looks Better Than Me!

Admittedly, a rental exhibit from a reputable exhibit house should look indistinguishable from a new one. It may not have all the bells and whistles, or be totally custom, but it shouldn’t be the equivalent of a 1978 Chrysler Cordoba. When your exhibit pales in comparison to the rental exhibit across the aisle, it may be time to consider a display upgrade. And a rental just might be the right next step.

Why is My Disassembly and Repacking Such a Nightmare?

The show is over and you want to go to dinner, go to a bar, or simply go home. But, not yet. The exhibit has to be disassembled and repacked in the crate or case. That task can be straight-forward or a nightmare. There’s a good chance your dismantle team, whether the company’s employees or the hired I&D labor crew, may be unfamiliar with the repack.

Jigged Crate with Reusable Packaging

Quality packing instructions and reusable packaging materials might be the single best investment you make in your exhibit. Not only will ensure that your exhibit looks good show after show, but it will also make the disassembly a stress-free. You’ll save money on labor, reduce damage, and ensure that no component gets left behind. Before you buy your exhibit, demand to see how the booth will be packed. And repacked. And repacked.

What’s with My Boring Flooring?

Flooring shouldn’t be an afterthought. It’s another opportunity for effective branding or creativity in your (very expensive) booth space. Some would say even more important than a hanging sign.

More than ever you have choices: an extra layer of carpet padding, foam tiles, printed graphics, or even raised wood flooring. Heck, some companies are using vinyl graphics on the concrete floor to create interesting and effective graphics. You don’t have to default to rented black or white carpet.

I’m Back in the Shop ONCE AGAIN? Repairs, Storage, and Turnkey Services

Storage and turnkey services are a given on nearly all large exhibits and most program clients. Most businesses don’t have room to store crates nor the time to inspect the exhibit before and after every show. At some point, however, those costs plus any ongoing repairs mean it’s time to consider a new exhibit.

You can minimize repairs and turnkey services by taking care of the exhibit at every stage. Storage fees are negotiable, depending on how much you store and how many other services you tap into at your exhibit house. And when it’s time to retire your display, then either sell it (via a used exhibit broker) or dispose of it. You would be surprised at how often companies continue to pay storage fees long after they no longer use the exhibit.

Still wondering what to do before your next show. Contact us. We’ll make sure you’re next show is successful, without a lot of backtalk from your exhibit.

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

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, custom, and rental 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.

The World of SEG (As I See It)

September 11th, 2018 2 COMMENTS

Guest Post by Dave Brown, Optima Graphics

When Neanderthals Walked the Earth

My first exposure to Silicone Edge Graphics (SEG) was in 2002. At the time, we (Optima) were using a foam/rubber gasket to finish fabric graphics. The gasket (similar to screen door material) was an aesthetic step forward from Velcro since it helped to remove ripples and waves in a fabric graphic, but it was not a viable long-term solution. In early 2003, Optima was approached by AIT. They were promoting an improved graphic attachment using a stretchy silicone material that could be tucked into a channel or systems groove on an engineered aluminum frame, like Octanorm or MODUL. I vaguely recall that they were selling frames as well, but don’t quote me on that.

During that same time frame, several truss suppliers were offering a “truss clip” option where an 18” section of aluminum channel would snap onto the individual truss rails. A magnet was sewn to the graphic, so it could be secured within the truss clip. There was nothing special about the magnet other than its dimensions were perfect for sewing it to the fabric and then tucking it into the truss clip. Functionally a shim. However, the magnet was impractical for shipping purposes.

With the ever-present desire to cut exhibit program costs, many “early adopter” exhibitors and exhibit houses were looking to fabric graphics as an option. Fabric or dye-sublimated textile graphics had two immediate advantages:  they reduced the overall weight of an exhibit and they could be folded for compact shipping. But the Velcro and truss clip option each had aesthetic and practical flaws.

The Rise of SEG

Entering 2005, Silicone Edge Graphics were moving more mainstream, and our very own Mary Mueller coined the term SEG. Heck, we even tried to trademark it, but the US Patent Office claimed it was too generic (but “three peat” could be trademarked. Hmmmm?). By mainstream, I mean that SEG was being incorporated into display hardware, wall-mounted frame solutions, and custom exhibits.

As time progressed, SEG became a true building material, and fabric now clads the exterior of exhibits in the same way Canyon Blue Formica or Tempo loop did in the early 90’s. Customers want their visual message and presence maximized in their exhibits, and as dye-sublimation has progressed so has the boundaries of SEG. It is not uncommon to see a single 10’ x 20’ SEG fabric graphic whether backlit or non-backlit that’s as stunning and real as a Lambda print. A handful of companies have incorporated machinery that will produce a single graphic that’s 15 ft. in width, and the industry has been the beneficiary of R&D from many different perspectives. For example:

  • Backlighting. At Optima, we have launched three different backlit materials in the last 11 months, and our suppliers keep sending us a steady stream of potential new materials to test.
  • Opacity. Fabric may have been great for packing and hanging, but prior to 2013, there were functionally no opaque options. The blocker game is over because numerous opaque options exist and are ideal for trade show graphics. Eliminating blockers reduces installation time and cost. We can all cheer for that!
  • Stretch / Pliability. Installing SEG is, good bad or indifferent, a bit of an art form. A material that stretches east – west vs. east-west and north-south is a big deal because the added pliability reduces the artistic install talent needed by the end client or hired labor. “I have done this a million times” does not perfectly translate to “You are really good at it.”
  • Wrinkles. Let’s not mince words, Wrinkles suck! I get it. Paying as much as $250 an hour for Sunday OT steaming is unappetizing to any exhibitor.Here’s a snippet from an actual conversation I had this spring, “Sorry I am late. My shirt was a mess from packing, so I had to touch it up with the iron.” Fast forward to, “We arrived at the booth and one of the graphics was all wrinkled, so we had to steam it. Why do we need to do that? We should not have to do this” Logically, you know that a shirt (piece of fabric) needs to be ironed to eliminate wrinkles, but a fabric graphic should be impervious to similar wear and tear. Trust me, the holy grail of dye-sub fabric graphics is a 100% wrinkle-free material. This is and has been a R&D priority for years.
  • Flame Retardant (FR). Optima and many other high-quality providers will not sell an SEG dye-sub fabric graphic that is not FR. However, the FR treatment can increase the wrinkle factor or wrinkle-ability. Selling a NON-FR fabric is just plain stupid. Can you imagine ALL the instances where exhibitors are informed that all their fabric graphics need to be removed because they are unable to supply a FR certificate, and/or the material fails an onsite test? That is the stuff of lawsuits. It’s not worth it. Yet, there are instances where low-cost providers take that risk without informing the customer.

The Future of SEG

If the key ingredient in SEG is simply the attachment element (various rubbery / reasonably stretchy / reasonably firm 2.3mm x 7mm x 1mm-ish strips), then the sky is the limit. We have already progressed through print clarity (print resolution, density, color gamut via equipment and print technology), textile opacity, textile transmissiveness (backlighting), and ideal size of material.

A Prediction:   LED incorporation into the textiles will progress from experimental to routine and full digital textile is only a few years away. Envision a wall frame with an SEG monitor installed at any size you want. A 10 x 20 inline that conveys your client’s dynamic message, creates and morphs from one environmental engagement to the next, and during breaks on the show floor – you can watch your favorite Family Guy, episode. AND the whole thing fits in a single airline shippable case.

It’s coming sooner than we all think.

Dave Brown
dsbrown@optimagfx.com

Dave Brown is the VP of Sales at Optima Graphics. We all know and love Dave, so a long, detailed bio isn’t really necessary. And, yes, we all have a memorable Dave Brown story.

5 Classic Tips x 5 Days = 25 Tasty Bites | Day #4

November 10th, 2016 COMMENTS

tipsday4

You Love Your Children Equally.

But you have a favorite, even if just a little. Yesterday, we talked about the Top 5. Today, we discuss five online children who deserve more love and attention.

Tip #16 — Graphic Inspiration Galleries

Glenna Martin, our Graphic Design Manager, is the genius behind the Graphic Inspiration Galleries. She knows, as do you, that most graphic designers rarely tackle 3D graphic design. They understand print and web, but designing for a display is a foreign language. Glenna lends a hand.

She created four galleries from Past Five Day photos. In each gallery, she describes why a graphic is successful. There are over one hundred examples. All positive. It’s a wonderful instructional playground for any graphic designer.

Tip #17 — Distributor Login

In the old days, every exhibit manufacturer had a top-secret distributor section. It was the vault of prices, literature, policies, etc. Those days are largely gone. However, we still have a condensed version where you can find literature, forms, and other helpful tools. It also contains a link to the Rental Gallery wholesale prices. So, how secret is it? Here’s the username (classicexhibits) and password (easypeasy). But don’t share!

Tip #18 — Printable Literature

OverAt the top of the Classic home page, there is a rotating banner. If you click on it at just the right time, you will be taken to a magical page where you can download printable literature. This includes 22 product and “Under” brochures. I’m not opposed to using guilt as a motivator. So… You’ll hurt my feelings if you don’t click on this link.

Tip #19 — Hear Audio

The “Hear Audio” buttons are my baby. Most kits have a Hear Audio button where you can listen to a 30-60 second description of the product. All are done by professional voice talent. Ditto on the “hurt feelings” if you don’t click on them.

Tip #20 — Trade Show Tips

Trade Show Tips is a happening place, much like a middle child who wants attention. End-users find it via Google or Bing. I often hear from newbies in the industry who tap into it as their “Introduction to Trade Shows and Trade Show Marketing.” And like the Trade Show Tales blog, new articles are added to keep it fresh. We encourage you to suggest article ideas.

Wondering about the latest trends in Trade Show Land? Check out #21 thru #25 tomorrow.

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


 

SEGD (Society for Experiential Graphic Designers) Conference Notes

June 24th, 2016 COMMENTS

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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.

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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.


 

The 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Trade Show Graphics

November 6th, 2013 5 COMMENTS

VisionaryBlogBanner

You decided on your new trade show display . . . but you’re not done yet. Now, it’s time to design the graphics. Every day we see completed graphics, many of which we feature in Past 5 Days. Some amaze us. Others not so much. You want AMAZING!. Below are 10 tips to consider when designing your next trade show graphics.

1. Look Up. Think about what elements you want seen either 6 ft. away or across the show floor. Avoid putting important elements at floor level. Higher elements will draw your customer’s attention. Those should be the ones you emphasize.

2. Hire a Graphic Designer Who Understands Trade Show Graphic Design. Most don’t. Don’t spend thousands of dollars on a new display only to use lackluster, unprofessional graphics. It’s the equivalent of working out to build a 6 pack and then wearing a muumuu. A professional graphic designer will know how to source quality files, format them, design your graphics, and hit your deadline.

If you don’t know what resolution, PMS color, vector art and bleed are, trust me, you don’t want to be responsible for file preparation. Hire someone who knows what they’re doing. The graphics are as important as your physical display, if not more important, and they can make or break your display presentation.

3. Your Display isn’t a Paper Brochure. This is the single biggest mistake most exhibitors make. You want your messaging to be clear, concise, and to the point. Leave the details for the printed or electronic collateral. No one is going to read text heavy graphics so keep it simple and impactful. Get the help of a copywriter if you can. Avoid clichés and tired expressions like “innovative” and “unique.” Get to the root of the problem and state your solution. Strong messaging that can be digested in 15 seconds or less will make your display MUCH MORE effective.

4. Image Quality Counts. Photos should be high resolution or vector, especially for your logo. Always have native, clean artwork for projects. This is critical! Spend the extra money to get good quality stock photography. It’s not that expensive and can make a HUGE difference in your booth. This isn’t a billboard — people will be walking up and even touching your graphics. Nothing makes a graphic designer cringe more than being handed a business card and asked to pull a logo from it. If you worked with a designer to create an identity for your company, ask them for the native files. You may not be able to open them, but that doesn’t mean your designer won’t be able to. This is why you hired a professional in the first place, remember?

5. The Devil is in the Details. View your graphics rendered on the display. Sometimes elements of the physical booth really have an affect on the flow of your graphics. You won’t know until you see them so make sure that you view them before you print them. Be sure that you know where accessories like shelves and monitors are placed. Exact measurements are critical. Too many times the graphics arrive and they look amazing, vibrant, and perfect . . .  until you realize that the monitor cuts off half of your logo. Seeing the graphics rendered will help prevent mistakes and be worth the added time.

6. Create a Flow. Sometimes clients have a million ideas in all different directions. Just because your display has four different graphic surfaces that doesn’t mean that you should treat them as such. Make sure your graphics tell a coherent story. If your client wants each of their four products featured, one on each panel, that’s fine. Find a way to tie them together. Make sure that the color scheme and design as well as your copy works together. Don’t re-invent the wheel with each panel. You want the overall design to work together — not confuse.

7. Color is Your Friend . . . or Your Enemy. Reference specific Pantone swatches when color matching is critical. This goes back to working with a professional when possible. Trade shows are notorious for being tight turn projects. No one wants to have graphics shipped directly to the show only to find out that the nice mustard yellow they were expecting printed peach or pea green.

8. Don’t Font It Up. One or two fonts is enough. I promise. Three fonts is pushing it. Any more than that and you’ve got an identity crisis on your hands. Legibility is key with any graphic design but especially graphics that are being viewed from a distance. Look for clean, easy-to-read type and then if you want a little flare, add an accent font that is more unique, but don’t over use it. And please, I beg of you, don’t use a cursive or handwriting font in all caps. Just don’t. As a side note, avoid any fonts with names like Giddy-up.

9. Scale is Everything. You have the opportunity to create graphics of a larger than life magnitude. Seize the day! Go big or go home. Don’t waste your time designing 20 foot graphics that are only meant to be viewed from two feet away. Again, let them use your collateral for details and smaller views of things. Think about what you want people to see from three aisles over. Show them something that makes them want to visit you.

10. Cut Your Losses. If your client wants to do something really dumb and you’ve tactfully advised them why they shouldn’t, then let them do it. They’ll learn. They can only smack their thumb so many times with a hammer before they eventually discover how to hit the nail. 😉

Need assistance with your trade show graphics? Let us know. Share your tips for AMAZING trade show graphics in the Comments section.

Glenna Martin
Graphic Design Manager

http://www.linkedin.com/in/glennamartin
glenna@classicexhibits.com

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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.