Making an impact – exhibition stands

Packaging Professional magazine
15 May 2009
Trade show

With shoppers less willing to part with their money in this tough economic climate, it has never been more important for brands to create shelf standout and differentiation in their packaging.

Trade show events can be a hotbed for the latest design concepts, sustainable solutions, packaging materials and technology. easyFairs, organisers of packaging shows, reported record turnouts this year of over 4,000 delegates to their exhibitions in February, and specialist glass packaging manufacturer, Beatson Clark, based in Rotherham, UK, discovered the benefits when its representatives attended Ecopack.

The company says, ‘It was amazing to discover just how many people do not realise how good glass is as a packaging medium. Shows like this have given us a platform to deliver this message.’

Exhibition booths that incorporate diverse design approaches to maximize impact are key.

Spatial awareness

Jean Gallagher of Galla Studio Interior Design, based in West Chester, USA, believes that good design balances beauty with function, and that overfilling a space is the biggest mistake a business can make.

‘It is important not to crowd yourself or your visitors,’ she explains. ‘When planning a trade show space start with everything you want to include, then edit and pare down. If your final space is a visual assault on visitors’ senses, they may stay away.’

When creating an exhibit, Gallagher starts by building a virtual space using design software, which provides the flexibility to move components around easily. She then physically marks out the footprint of the space in the office with masking tape. ‘The space is always smaller than you think, and seeing the “envelope” in real scale is helpful.’

Aesthetic appeal

The client’s core values and that of their target audience are also considered. ‘The trade show space should be an extension of the brand,’ Gallagher explains. ‘For example, if the client is environmentally sensitive, then it is important to use recycled and recyclable materials. The materials become the aesthetic appeal.’

Material selection also depends on the type of display the vendor wants. ‘Some [exhibits] are simple pull down curtains made of a fabric and plastic that show a simple message,’ says Gallagher. Others are smaller tabletop displays made of foam or wood with carpet encasing, while others are constructed of metal and large wood beams. ‘The materials do not need to be heavy or overbearing to be large and effective,’ she adds.

Although stands come in many shapes and sizes, from tabletop exhibits to 20ft islands, more than half of all trade show booths are 10ft backwall displays. These provide enough space for a company to display its message and host attendees. ‘Backwall displays are primarily a two-dimensional medium, so take full advantage of the limited space by covering it with attention-getting graphics,’ says Gallagher.

‘Curved wall pop-up displays work well for these spaces, as their surfaces always face the attendee, surrounding them with your graphic message. Curved displays also focus sound to the centre of the booth, so it makes it easier to be heard within a busy show hall.’

But Gallagher insists that exhibitors must avoid the temptation of putting a big table in front of a backwall exhibit. ‘Although this gives sellers a place to put literature, it also creates a barrier between them and the prospects. It is better to have booth staffers standing on the valuable real estate right next to the aisle, ready to greet and meet potential customers.’

Good design is the first step to creating an effective trade show space, attracting buyers.

Further information: Galla Studie Interior Design

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