The Insider's Guide
to Booth Design
“Everything starts with design” Designing a tradeshow booth can be a daunting task, and perhaps
counter-intuitively, one that that often gets put on the backburner until the very last minute.
design, even with a
However, in taking this approach, you may be missing a key chance to fully integrate sales,
relationship and brand building opportunities at trade events. In addition, putting off booth
doesn't just happen.
design may actually increase the total cost of a trade show.
Like everything from
Designers who are experts in spatial branding and business-conducive environments, can create a
space that immediately conveys your brand message and ultimately results in a successful show.
to marketing, success
Working with a professional design team pays off in implementing your event objectives and your
company’s vision. It can also go a long way toward helping you meet your tradeshow budget.
is in the process and
After all, as virtually every business person knows, last minute changes always cost more than
those given sufficient lead-time.
Good booth design, even with a professional team, doesn't just happen, however. Like everything
from product development to marketing, success is in the process and everything starts with
design. Finding a good design team and trusted trade show expert is a good first step, but
contributing positively to the design process is a close second.
This guide offers advice from the designer’s perspective that will ultimately improve the design
process and result in a better, more profitable show experience.
“Engaging a designer
Knowing where and when to begin the process is essential to its success. Any design process
works best when good briefings and a realistic time line combine to give designers the time and
early in the process
information needed to create an effective end product.
can help you make
certain that your
The trade show booth design process is really no different. Engaging a designer in early in the
process can help you make certain that your branding objectives, messages, traffic flow and
product presentations all fit your vision and budget. The design of your trade show exhibit is the
messages, tra c ow
vehicle that will help drive event success.
quot;While we can produce and build a design in a number of weeks, a longer timeline allows for
presentations all t
enough input to fully understand a company's goals and personality,quot; says Donald O'Roark, a
your vision and
senior designer at The Rogers Company. quot;We can also better anticipate opportunities and prob-
lems and adjust according. It just gives clients more options.quot;
Bringing in a booth design team early in the process can help determine everything from the
space that you need to how best to display your products or services. The information that you
quot;A design team can talk
provide helps ensure that the design will ultimately help you achieve your goals for a show.
Starting early in the process allows you and your design team the time needed to really think
to you about what you
things through, play with traffic flow, try different concepts, fine tune the messages and, most
want to achieve and
importantly, brand your space.
quot;Although it's sometimes difficult, it's ideal to talk to a design team before a booth space is
tions on booth space or
chosen,quot; says Sukki Jahnke, an account executive at The Rogers Company. quot;A design team can talk
position that's more
to you about what you want to achieve and make recommendations on booth space or position
informed and e ec-
that's more informed and effective.quot;
Another important element to bring to the table is branding guidelines. This is valuable in saving
time at later stages but also ensures that designers are building your booth to continue the story
quot; Many times clients
of your company and not clashing with it. Along the same lines, it is helpful, if possible to bring a
design team to company headquarters. This helps to determine the company's personality in
know what they’d like
everything from architecture to office atmosphere. It also is essential in determining the size and
but can’t visualize it.
nature of products to be displayed at a show.
It’s only by seeing
Your show goals are another key element to beginning the design process. For every company,
initial concepts that
product category, and industry, this will be different. Are you launching a new product and using
things start to
the show to create awareness of the product? Is it a selling show or are you there primarily to
coalesce and make
collect leads? Is branding your most important goal, or are you there to to further build
relationships with key customers? How much business is done at a booth as opposed to casual
contact? Will sales people have long extended conversations or short chats? These questions
and their answers are important to creating the right environment for a successful show.
Design teams will take this basic information and come back with design concepts including
graphic placement, lighting and product presentation. Many times clients know what they’d like
but can’t visualize it. It’s only by seeing initial concepts that things start to coalesce and make
sense. The feedback you provide from the initial designs is crucial to creating a final design that’s
quot; Lighting is an
The presentation of design ideas is a critical step in creating a booth. This is where an exchange of
ideas and opinions shapes the look of the final design. Design teams have experience translating
design element that
an image on paper to the actual booth and can help guide you during this evaluation.
can be di cult to
Lighting, for example, is an underestimated design element that can be difficult to visualize and is
visualize and is there-
therefore sometimes overlooked in the design criteria. Utilized correctly, lighting can draw atten-
fore sometimes over-
tion to products, logos, and signage and it can also be used to created dynamic design elements
looked in the design
such as a subtle change in color or create a glowing effect with fabric elements. Lighting does
cost money. However, by using high impact lighting, companies can potentially save money in
both shipping costs given that lighting tends to create more out of less and set-up costs since
lighting should take less time to setup than walls and other physical elements. Consider some
amount of lighting when evaluating designs – the extra cost will pay off in making your brand
pop on the show floor.
Another often underestimated design element is the one you don't see. Empty space in a
booth is often as important as the walls, furniture, and seating. An open booth environment
helps to create an open feeling that invites people inside. Moreover, open spaces keep people
from feeling quot;fenced inquot;. Also, what may appear to be vast empty spaces on paper, could quot; What may appear to
actually be necessary for good traffic flow, meeting areas and visual accessibility to product
be vast empty spaces
displays or live presentations.
on paper, could
quot;Typically, people need 4 to 5 feet of space to comfortably pass each other,quot; says Paul Jablonski, actually be necessary
a senior project manager at The Rogers Company. quot;Filling up space or tightening it to add
for good tra c ow,
more products can sacrifice comfort and freedom of movement. That can mean fewer people
meeting areas and
coming into a booth and spending less time there because they're uncomfortable.quot;
visual accessibility to
In addition to these practical considerations, space can often be a dramatic design element in
product displays or
and of itself. Displaying an overabundance products or literature can have the effect of
cluttering a space and creating a visually less dramatic space from the aisle.
But rules about space are made to be broken. An open booth design isn't always appropriate.
When product design needs to be carefully protected, for example, a booth with hidden 'inside'
elements or a completely “walled” perimeter protects intellectual property and can also create
intrigue which is another draw to the booth. An enclosed booth space can also present great
opportunities for dynamic branding, which can be accomplished in a cost effective manner
using fabric walls, powerful graphics and lighting.
Moving outside the branding box is another step that can help create a more effective booth
design. Design standards and color schemes are important, but building on these themes
quot;It's much better to
rather than using only corporate colors can greatly enhance the look and feel of your booth.
Designers often choose colors that complement corporate colors and even add artistic touches
show a story rather
to create an environment that is inviting and one that reflects the excitement behind your
than tell it…quot;
Booth signage and graphics is another arena that often requires a switch in thinking. While
product brochures may give the pertinent details of your product or service, they may not
always translate well into visual elements or graphics that must attract attention from 300 feet
away on a 300,000 square foot floor. And more is required than just a big hanging sign with
your company logo on it.
quot;It's much better to show a story rather than tell it,quot; says Jahnke. quot;For example, customer
quotes and photographs can explain your message more quickly in a way that relates to show
attendees rather than facts and figures about your products. It's much better to express how
your product can benefit attendees in large signage.quot;
When all is said and done, blending the booth design elements together with your sales team at
doesn’t just draw
the show is essential. A booth staff that is informed about the booth's form and function will
people to your
ultimately be more comfortable in the space. A design team can provide vital clues into some of
booth, it helps
the design’s functionality. For example, the layout and style of the booth may attract visitors into
your booth but having qualified staff in each section will help your team integrate with
extend the time
functionality of the exhibit.
they spend in it.quot;
Designers may also give insight into how audiences will gather for presentations and where traffic
will flow afterward. For example, some booths have regularly scheduled presentations that will
gather an audience in waves. An audience area may be open to avoid quot;trappingquot; attendees inside,
but still guide them through to other areas of the booth. Great design doesn’t just draw people to
your booth, it helps extend the time they spend in it.
Smart Design –
quot; In the end, a smart
Budgets are tight and tradeshows are certainly a large expenditure for many companies. But,
design process isn't a
large or small, companies can benefit and realize a better ROI by getting involved early and often
luxury: it is simply a
with a skilled and proactive design team. The results can be significant: better branding, better
way of creating the
product display, ease of setup and dismantle, reduced weight and better overall impact. Informing
a design team of your marketing and trade show goals, strategies and branding initiatives will
most e cient and
help to create an exhibit that will be more than just a display but rather a “destination” point for
e ective business
In the end, a smart design process isn't a luxury: it is simply a way of creating the most efficient
achieve the goals
and effective business environment to achieve the goals of the company it represents. That's not
of the company
just smart design – it's also smart business.
For over 65 years The Rogers Company has been an award winning designer and manufacturer of
branded environments for tradeshow exhibits, corporate events, lobbies, showrooms and retail
environments - essentially any place where communicating your brand is vital. In addition to its
3D marketing services The Rogers Company is also a full service trade show and event implemen-
tation partner providing turnkey services and support for its corporate clients throughout the
With its complete design staff, skilled craftsmen and construction facilities, Rogers can custom
build a wide range of branded environments to suit any need. Through its strategic partner
network the company also provides a wide range of portable and modular display solutions,
support and logistics for international tradeshows and an extensive rental inventory of both
custom and portable display products
Additionally through its strategic partner network, Rogers provides Eventelligence™, a technology
infrastructure service for event registration, event mapping and way-finding systems, lead
retrieval, lead tracking, fulfillment services and various RFID solutions for focused tradeshows and
For more information on The Rogers Company please visit www.therogersco.com
or call us at 1-800-544-3880.