This custom trade show booth design crash course helps you create a high-impact exhibit tailored to your marketing needs.

Crash Course: Custom Trade Show Booth Design

A trade show is the ideal event to market your brand’s products and services. Potential customers are seeking information, and effective trade show booth design is critical for capturing their attention, especially since your brand is competing against hundreds, sometimes thousands, of vendors.

Custom trade show booths are perfect for exhibitors looking for a one-of-a-kind exhibit solution to reflect their brand’s personality on the show floor. In this post, we cover several important areas of custom trade show booth design to help you create a high-impact exhibit tailored to meet your trade show marketing needs.

Your Goals Should Lead Your Trade Show Booth Design

Your trade show booth is a tool that supports your marketing goals, so ensuring those goals are properly outlined is a key step in designing your custom trade show booth.

Trade Show Goals To Consider:

  • Generate leads
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Improve volume of sales
  • Promote products and services
  • Attract visitors

Make sure you clearly communicate your trade show goals to your designer so they can create an exhibit that will help you reach your objectives.

Your Exhibit Budget

Trade show booths account for roughly 10 percent of the average trade show budget. When you include the exhibit space, you’re looking at up to 30 percent of your overall budget. Below are two essential tips to help you control the costs associated with designing your exhibit:

1. Prioritize Booth Elements That Help Achieve Goals
During the consultation phase of the trade show booth design process, prioritize which design features are most important for you to achieve your goals. Cross off features that are more expensive and less essential to your overall exhibiting objectives to keep costs down.

2. Prorate Booth Cost Over Estimated Lifespans
To determine the overall lifetime cost and potential ROI of your exhibit, estimate how many years and at how many shows per year you’ll use your exhibit.

Did you know:

  • The average lifespan of trade show display hardware is 5 years
  • The average lifespan of graphics is 1 year

Trade Show Booth Design Considerations

Before you meet with your exhibit partner, research design components that best suit your goals. Browsing custom booth designs for inspiration and making a list of the key components you want to include in your booth is a great way to prepare.

We also recommend you take the time to the look at other booths at shows you attend, and make note of booths that stand out and think about what made them impactful.

Design elements to consider:

  • Bold, standout graphics
  • Large hanging signs that capture the attention of attendees
  • Captivating product demonstrations
  • Interactive components like VR/AR

Booth elements to look for:

  • Hanging structures
  • Towers
  • Backwalls
  • Counters
  • Meeting spaces
  • Media kiosks
  • Product shelving and displays
  • Storage spaces (counters, closet, etc.)

What Type of Exhibit is Right for Your Brand?

As any seasoned exhibitor can attest to, exhibiting space is both expensive, and at a premium, at trade shows that necessitate the same creative use of space to maximum impact.

When planning for your next trade show exhibit, consider the following space related design concerns:

  • Ensure your exhibit has enough space for staffers and attendees
  • Make sure you can fit your products into your booth space comfortably
  • Consider private conference rooms for your exhibit if you want a more intimate space for meeting
  • Make small spaces feel larger with archways or overhead hanging structures

Effective use of booth space can reduce wait times for attendees. Potential clients are less likely to linger and want to speak to show staff if it’s difficult for them to maneuver and they find themselves jockeying for space with other attendees.

What Story is Your Brand Telling?

Educating potential customers on your brand is one of the primary reasons for exhibiting at a trade show. An attendee should never leave an exhibit space without getting a thorough understanding of the brand they just visited, but it happens, so it’s important for your trade show booth to portray your brand’s story.

Your trade show booth can and should be customized to help facilitate the storytelling aspect of exhibiting. The design of a trade show booth can reflect the history and the motivations of a brand visually, without a booth staffer ever having to say a word.

Thoughtful reflection on the company culture, vision, and commitment to their community and customer are all essential in letting the public know who they are and what they stand for. Smartly-planned exhibit graphics can help drive home this messaging to attendees.

The use of visual media is also an incredible narrative tool that every exhibitor should keep in mind.

Tips for telling your story:

  • Start with transformative moments within your organization
  • Highlight the unique way your product is made
  • Never brag
  • Always be honest with your narrative
  • Look for ways to spark an emotional response in your audience
  • Give your audience something that matters to them
  • Connect with your audience by understanding their needs and their journey

A well-told story is equal parts engaging and educational. Stories are a great way to prompt consumer action without seeming too pushy, and designing your booth with your story in mind will assist with this goal.

Trade Show Graphics

Graphics are arguably the most important element of a trade show booth design. High-impact graphics are the key differentiator between capturing the attention of attendees and drawing a high volume of booth traffic versus having your booth relegated to being just another exhibit on the crowded show floor.

Use Noticeable Colors

While your coloring scheme should be consistent with your overall marketing design, it should also be bright enough to stand out. Colors that are too drab or neutral tend to cause your exhibit fade into the background. If your color dynamic doesn’t include brighter colors, consider incorporating metallic surfaces or interesting textures instead.

Make sure your color choices convey the emotions you want to create in your visitors. Attracting prospects is vital to creating a strong return on investment, so it is important to create a high-level of visual appeal within a trade show exhibit.

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Lighting

A smartly-lit home can accentuate design features and minimize trouble-areas. The same can be said for a trade show exhibit that utilizes lighting in creative and unique ways.

Dimly lit displays are a common mistake often seen at most trade shows. A well-lit display is essential, allowing visitors to easily view the important details of your graphics.

Additionally, lighting can be used to brighten other key areas of your exhibit, such as product displays and promotional materials.

The Trade Show Booth Design Process

There are four core steps in the exhibit design and creation process, including:

Needs Assessment
Complete a needs assessment form. The needs assessment form is a list of questions your exhibit partner uses to better understand your creative vision. This information will help guide your exhibit partner regarding what materials and design techniques to use when designing and building your exhibit.

Review and Refine Initial Concepts
The exhibit designer will provide you with rough sketches and concepts of an exhibit design. Once you agree to a design, the exhibit designer will then create line drawings and 3D renderings of your exhibit to give you a better understanding of how your exhibit will look once completed.

Establish Exhibit Details and Framework
The exhibit designer will then turn over the design to exhibit detailers who use CAD software to outline the building blocks of your exhibit’s framework. The exhibit detailer provides project managers and exhibit builders with a complete specification of parts, materials, finishes, and construction methods to work from. Then graphics specification are finalized and converted into templates for graphic designers.

Exhibit Preview and Approval
After your exhibit is built, you will have the opportunity to preview the booth at your exhibit partner’s facility. During the preview, you can ask your exhibit partner to make tweaks and adjustments to your booth if needed.

Once you sign off on your exhibit, your exhibit partner will pack up and ship the exhibit to your event.

Check out these custom trade show booth designs for inspiration.

Are you ready to get started on the design of your custom trade show booth for your next event? Contact the expert design team at Apogee today!