6 Trade Show Booth Design Basics to Keep in Mind For Your Next Event


Whether you’re exhibiting at a trade show for the first time or returning to an event and want to maximize your impact, the design of your trade show booth has a huge effect on your results as an exhibitor.

From color schemes to copy, a wide range of factors plays a part in helping to make your trade show booth a success. Below, we’ve shared six simple but important design factors to keep in mind for your next event and help you get the highest possible ROI from your exhibit.


Exhibiting for the first time? Study your competition

Don’t know where to start? Designing your first trade show booth can be a serious challenge, especially if you’re part of a small business or startup without a deep understanding of trade show marketing.

Luckily, there’s a quick and effective tactic that you can use to get up to speed in a fraction of the normal amount of time. Just like studying your competitors can yield great pricing, product and marketing ideas, your competitors can be an excellent source of trade show inspiration.

Before you start designing your trade show booth, spend a few hours searching online for last year’s booths from your competitors. Pay attention to the key features that their booths have in common, form headings and layouts to color schemes, display configurations and more.

It’s also worth looking at the size and type of your competitors’ trade show booths, as this can help you choose a booth design, size, and layout that suits your needs and budget.

Once you’ve identified the common elements of your competitors’ booths, you can add them to your “must include” list and spend more your time focusing on how you can make your exhibit stand out from the crowd.


Focus on standing out and capturing attention

Large trade shows can attract hundreds of exhibitors, making it important that your booth stands out from the crowd and attracts attention.

Because trade shows are so crowded and busy, it can be quite challenging for attendees to pick out booths that are worth their time. Often, a bright, eye-catching design with an obvious USP or value proposition is all it takes to attract attendees, giving your business a real advantage.

One great way to stand out is to pick one element of your booth that you’d like event attendees to remember, then focus on making it as eye-catching and unique as possible. This could be a certain display, a product demo area, or even a comfortable space for attendees to sit-down in.

Often, all it takes is one unique, eye-catching element to set your booth apart from the rest and give you an attention advantage that helps you attract foot traffic, generate leads and produce a positive return on investment.


Keep your copy short, sweet and effective

Trade shows are crowded, intense and busy. This means that few if any, attendees have time to read a long, overly complicated headline or dense paragraph of copy before deciding whether or not to visit your booth.

As a result, it’s always best to keep your trade show booth’s copy on the short side. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind when designing your booth is that your headlines should never require more than three seconds of attention to read, process and understand.

Considering the average adult reading speed, this means that you can safely use about five to seven words in your heading or tagline before your booth will begin to have a reduced impact on attendees.

It’s also important to keep your copy short and simple. As well as a short, easy-to-understand headline, focus on writing your booth’s copy in short, bite-sized sections that event attendees can quickly scan and understand in a few seconds.

There’s no prize for using the most sophisticated language at a trade show — instead, it’s all about keeping things simple, eye-catching and effective. Keep your copy short, tight, friendly and focused and you’ll notice a boost in your foot traffic and response rate.


Don’t forget to include a reasonable amount of empty space

As an exhibitor, it can be tempting to use as much of your display space as possible. After all, it stands to reason that an exhibit with more copy, bigger images, and bolder headings is going to attract more attention than its more restrained, conservative competitors.

In real life, this isn’t always the case. In fact, it’s usually far more effective to limit the amount of space you use for graphics, headings, and copy.

Trade show booth design experts usually recommend leaving at least 40% of your available banner space blank, or an empty space. This empty space makes it easier for attendees to locate and view your message, improving readability and increasing your results.

As a general rule, when it comes to graphics, more isn’t always better. Use empty space to your advantage and you’ll benefit from a higher level of interest and more effective displays, helping you achieve a higher ROI from your trade show.


Design with your marketing objectives in mind

There’s more to trade show exhibit design than just attracting attention. In order to convert this attention into real results, your trade show booth needs to be designed with your objectives in mind.

For example, if your goal is to close new deals and bring in new customers during the event, it’s important that your booth has a comfortable, relaxing space in which your sales reps can talk to prospects. This could be a table with chairs or a soft, comfortable lounge-style sofa.

If your goal is to showcase your latest product, it’s essential that your booth has a large enough space for your staff to carry out an interesting, engaging demo. If your goal is to give away lots of free samples, your booth needs to have enough space to showcase your giveaway items.

Remember, a function is just as important as form. While it’s important to attract attention using your booth, it’s even more important to be able to convert that attention into real, measurable results that help you achieve your marketing and sales objectives.


Design your entire trade show booth to stay on-brand

Finally, it’s important to design your booth with your brand identity in mind. This means using a consistent color scheme and choosing a theme that represents the image you’d like to present to event attendees.

Staying on-brand is an important aspect of developing an identifiable presence at a trade show or other industry event. Visit a Google booth at any consumer electronics trade show and it will look and feel like Google, complete with a white, minimalistic color scheme.

Step into a Netflix exhibit and you’ll be surrounded by red, black and white, complete with the easily recognizable Netflix typeface. It’s a consistent, on-brand look that allows you to identify the exhibit before you step inside.

While it’s easy to brush off being on-brand as something that only big businesses need to think about, the reality is that there are significant advantages to staying on-brand even as a startup or small business.

Over the years, trade show attendees will begin to recognize your brand, making a consistent appearance an asset. Keeping your booth design on-brand also strengthens your company’s identity, making you stand out as a trusted, reliable option within your industry.


Learn more about trade show marketing

Interested in building your own trade show booth? Our team of booth designers, builders and trade show experts has helped hundreds of businesses of all sizes build stunning exhibits that command attention at trade shows.

From quick tips to all-in-one services, we can help you with every aspect of preparing for and exhibiting at a trade show. For more information about our trade show services or to talk to a member of our team, please contact us now.