two images of trade show set ups

If your company is exhibiting at a trade show soon (especially for the first time!), you might be wondering what the best practices for trade show booth design are. As recent first-time exhibitors at one of the largest trade shows in Las Vegas, the Digital Signage Expo, we’ve learned a few things about what makes for a successful trade show booth. Not only do we think we did a great job with our own setup, but we learned a ton from the other exhibitors, as we’ll show below.

Here are 10 trade show booth design tips to make the most out of your event.

Google trade show booth design

1. Stay on-brand from top to bottom.

You know how you know Google is Google at an event as large as DSE? Well, they had one of the biggest booths there, but their branding was consistent throughout their entire booth area. All-white kiosks and walls displayed content that was bright and engaging, and scattered across the floor were colorful chairs that matched the iconic logo. When exhibiting, make sure your brand’s theme is consistent across all your design materials, from banners and images to freebies and more.

ScreenFeed trade show booth design

2. Tell people exactly what you do.

Unless you’re Google or Apple, don’t assume people know who you are and what you do. That’s especially true for smaller companies, like the startup ScreenFeed. At DSE, you didn’t need to talk with a sales rep to learn about their offerings—it’s right on the banner behind them. (“We take raw ingredients from the best content sources in the world to handcraft beautiful, ready-made content feeds…”) This likely saved them from repeatedly having to explain what they were about and allowed attendees who were genuinely interested in them to ask more specific questions.

We were sure to let people know Enplug makes cloud digital signage software.

DSE 2015 booths

3. Stand out.

Ayuda’s bright, bold orange booth stood out in a sea of blues, grays and whites. While it helps that a bright orange is on-brand for Ayuda, there are other ways to stand out. Intel had several demos for people to gather around and interact with, engaging passersby to stop and check out their Internet of Things displays. There are many ways your booth can stand out—don’t underestimate the power of bold design and engaging attendees in a non-salesy way.

interactive trade show booth

4. Be playful.

Any industry trade show has the potential to become repetitive or even boring if all the booths look and operate the same. Rather than run the risk of causing their eyes to glaze right over your booth, give attendees something they can play and have fun with. Intel had a station where anyone could remix Ne-Yo’s latest single and control the lights as he performed on-screen. MultiTaction had a digital air hockey table anyone could battle it out on. Elevate encouraged people to take selfies with a display that superimposed cats and Homer Simpson’s face on their heads. That’s way more engaging than just another pretty image on a screen. How can you turn your product into a game or your booth into a venue? Get creative.

trade show booth design

5. Put your name on it.

If you want to be remembered, put your name on your product, your booth, your freebies and anything else people can see or hold. See Samsung and Planar? Of course you do—their names are plastered all over their exhibits. They don’t take their instantly recognizable brand names for granted. They make sure you know who and what you’re looking at. Don’t make people search for your company name as they walk by your booth—they certainly won’t ask.

trade show freebies

6. Give something away.

We’re not talking junky swag that’ll go straight in the hotel room trash can, but something attendees will actually use and want. LG-MRI’s ThruVu cooler was stocked with water and soda. Ayuda had a movie theater-style popcorn cart people could grab a snack from. Other vendors still had free coffee and beer (much appreciated by attendees, we can assure you). Tired, hungry or bored attendees will be grateful for the pick-me-up.

DSE 2015

7. Go with the unexpected.

Want to catch attendees’ eyes or make them do a double-take? Put something that doesn’t belong in the middle of your exhibit space, like Verifone Media did with a car covered in text. It makes sense for their brand, too, because their OOH appears in taxi cabs, gas stations and transit vehicles. Whatever your technique, try not to be too gimmicky, but instead aim to inspire wonder, amusement or—best of all—a need-to-know response that inspires attendees to ask you questions.

DSE 2015

8. Set a scene.

Along similar lines, you could create an entire scene with its own vibe, like Stampede did with their Western-themed space. Stampede’s main product is its Big Book of AV—something the exhibitors themselves admit is not exciting in and of itself. So they built up a unique experience for visitors with cowboy hats, hay bales and beer, and suddenly a catalog became a destination—and a lot more interesting. If your booth were a place, what would it be?

DSE 2015

9. Make the most of your space.

Whether you have a small booth or a large one, you can maximize every square foot to your advantage. Enplug’s booth was located in the Innovator Zone, where booths are just 5×8 feet. With little space to work with, we made the most of it by hanging up a colorful banner behind us showing off the apps available in our app market. We even took advantage of the high ceilings and tied nearly a dozen three-foot-wide balloons to the booth to create an even grander looking space. It worked—we could easily spot our booth from afar.

DSE 2015

10. But keep it uncluttered.

Four Winds Interactive had a decidedly larger booth, but that doesn’t mean they filled up every available square foot just because they could. Their booth was sleek, uncluttered and attractive, and they applied the design principle of using negative space to their advantage. Less is more, as they say.

Want to read more about the Digital Signage Expo? Check out Enplug’s picks for the top 12 exhibitors here.