Trade shows and marketing events often require an alternative design concept that differs from regular marketing materials. While on business cards, fliers, and handouts it’s very important to include as much information as possible including contact info, company location, and/or direct contact information. Design for trade shows requires a restrained and clear design process to make it easier for potential clients to decipher information quickly. Four key areas to consider when creating a successful graphic design for trade shows are brand message, audience, industry standards, and booth concept. We will go over each of these in detail to explain how these elements contribute to creating an effective graphic design for trade shows and marketing events. We also recommend checking out the “best practices for trade show booth design” info graphic we have developed.

Creating an Effective Graphic Design for Trade Shows and Marketing Events

Brand Messaging

When constructing a large format design, brand messaging is a key factor in creating an effective graphic. While some companies like Nike or Pepsi have instant brand recognition from their logo alone, many companies do not have that luxury. We recommend using either a product photo or tag line that is recognizable in the industry to grab attention and inspire interest. Brand messaging also ties into the design layout. Many industries require clean, elegant graphics to grab attention like software or jewelry companies, while other industries benefit from more colorful and intricate designs. The overall feel of the booth space combined with a properly executed graphic is the key to proper brand messaging.


The audience is the single most important factor to consider when designing and executing a trade show booth. Marketing is an audience based industry that requires careful consideration when developing an effective campaign. Trade show graphics require clear and concise messaging that will speak to an audience instantly. Depending on the industry it’s important to include key factors that may engage an audience such as current sales, list of services, specialty services, awards, industry certifications, etc. An industry such as aerospace is going to require a professional design that also looks high-tech.

Clients may be interested in things such as safety ratings, years in business, reliability, and/or patents. While the gaming industry requires more emphasis on the product name and less on display graphics. Most of the attention is gained by onsite demo’s or game stations. The drastic differences in these two industries illustrates how important the audience factor can be when developing and effective design.

Industry Standards

The standard of a particular industry can be very important in design approach. In many construction industries an ISO certification is standard practice to include on a display. It lets potential clients know that a company works within industry standards. Some companies like to display the Better Business Bureau logo, or their rating if it’s very high. An industry can also determine the mentality behind a design and booth presence. The travel industry benefits from high energy and positive attitude combined with colorful and exciting graphics. The industry requires this mentality because selling travel requires clients to get excited. In contrast the medical and pharmaceutical industry requires a more restrained approach. Clean professional graphics combined with professional staffers will gain the most attention and leads. The medical industry requires this mentality because it includes a highly concentrated group of highly educated and professional clients.

Booth Concept

Hybrid PRO 20x20 Island Kit 23 View 1One of key areas often overlooked when designing a trade show display is the overall booth concept. This consists of how the booth will be set up in the space and how items and staffers will be organized. A very common mistake that is made is designing artwork on the bottom portion of the display when a table is going in front of it. This can block critical information and obstruct a design concept. Other items to consider are mounted TV’s, demo units, chairs, or display cases. The layout of the booth space will determine the best way to design a display so it’s seen correctly by the audience.
Many of these concepts are simple, but often overlooked when designing a trade show display. Taking these important steps can insure an effective design that will be sure to engage and entertain the target audience.

To recap the most important factors to consider when design a trade show booth are:

  • 1 – Proper Brand messaging that will get the company noticed
  • 2 – Consider the audience at an event to market effectively
  • 3 – Keep an eye on industry standards to insure proper marketing techniques
  • 4 – Consider the booth concept so the design can accommodate the layout

These factors combined with proper design experience can result in highly effective designs. It’s important for design companies and freelance designers to remember to utilize the client’s knowledge. Most of the time, the client can easily address all the above questions, setting the design on the right path. One thing has been proven with trade show designs; a simple, clear design concept is the best option to gain the maximum attention at a trade show. Make sure to follow these four key points when Creating an Effective Graphic Design for Trade Shows and Marketing Events! Additionally, make sure to check out some of our great trade show graphic videos to get more info!