Keep It Simple… well you know the rest, is one of the very first principles taught in design school, and one of the first to be forgotten. This rule is especially relevant when designing trade show graphics due to the vast real estate they offer.
The main purpose for trade show graphics is to identify who you are and attract attendees into your booth space. The tendency to fill every square foot of graphic area with information can create a cluttered and confusing message. Focus on the basics here. A logo and tagline or short sentence stating who you are and what you offer can be enough to attract visitors and start conversations, which is the real point of face-to-face marketing.
Trade shows are great venues for promoting your company’s marketing initiatives to prospective customers. Pre-event mailers and e-mail announcements alerting your targeted audience should be consistent. Your exhibit graphics should have the same look and feel so there is an immediate connection.
You have but a moment to catch the attention of visitors at an event… and even less time to hold it. A sense of familiarity and brand awareness will go a long way to make you stand out in the crowd.
Know Your Audience
Research the show you are attending and be strategic regarding how you market to the specific needs of that audience. Creating a message that will speak to them directly can go a long way to drawing traffic to your exhibit.
Know Your Exhibit Architecture
Trade show architecture is not a flat surface – it is a 3-dimensional structure with curves, corners, peaks and valleys. Graphic designers must keep all of these competing elements at the forefront in order to have a successful outcome. Imagery that complements exhibit architecture creates a harmonious visual statement. Attendees viewing them will leave with a lasting impression and positive reflection of your brand.
A properly designed exhibit will already possess a visual hierarchy. Attendees entering the show floor view hanging signage from long distances. Text and imagery for these graphics should be scaled appropriately for the highest visual impact. Large graphics on back walls should have logos and messaging as high as possible for the best visibility in congested areas. Remember to keep messages short and simple.
Technical Advice and Tips
Wide format graphics used in trade show exhibits possess unique technical challenges that other smaller scale print jobs do not. With the endless variety of materials and finishing methods available today, special attention needs to be taken to ensure graphic files conform to the specific guidelines for each application.
Your exhibit provider is an expert in all of these different methods and can assist in all aspects of the design and production process. Graphic templates detailing file submission requirements should be provided for your reference. These documents will usually include: file format guidelines, image resolution recommendations, sizes including safe zones, bleeds and other potential obstructions that can affect the graphics legibility.
Some best practices include setting up graphic files at 100% of final output size. This benefits all involved with the production process. For designers, viewing art at 100% on screen is a quick check for determining if placed raster images are high enough resolution for final output. It eliminates the need for doing math during the final output phase for print providers. Errors during printing on large scale graphics can be extremely costly!
Adobe Illustrator is recommended for creating artwork as it is the most widely accepted platform for large format graphics in the industry. Tagging colors using the PMS matching system will help communicate important corporate standards. Creating fonts to outlines will insure all fonts print correctly. Be sure to run spell check first. At a large scale, there is no such thing as a small spelling error!
For questions regarding your next wide format print project, contact us and we will be happy to assist. For our more detailed file submission guidelines, see our Graphics Guide.