Here's How To Design Your Trade Show Presence

We’ve been focusing our discussion recently on what it takes to put on a successful trade show. We’ve explained how you can save money and stress by printing locally when you travel to conferences, how you should market your trade show in the lead up to the event and even discussed how important it is to create useful signage.

Another important area to cover is how your trade show materials and design can work together to draw attendees in and leave an impression. So what exactly should you bring with you to make your business stand out amid a sea of competitors?

Design is everything 

When planning for your upcoming trade show, you need to consider how big a role the design of your area plays into successfully communicating your message to attendees. Obviously you need to have a strong verbal script that you can communicate to people who stop by your booth or station, but without an eye-catching setup, you likely won’t get anyone to stop by in the first place.

So where should you begin? How about with an exercise in empathy? 

Imagine you’re an attendee. You’re strolling through the show, unsure of who to talk to first. You see one company with a couple of brochures on an empty card table, and another business with a fully decked out station. They branded their station with a beautifully coordinated color scheme, banners and eye catching messaging. Which one of these examples seems more planned out in advance?

Attendees can see this just as easily as you can. If you put minimal effort into your design, then you can expect a minimal return. 

Table design

Let’s begin with the aforementioned card table.This is a simple one, but draping your table in a tablecloth will quickly add a level of professionalism to your station. If possible, avoid a standard white cloth, and choose one that matches a base color in your company’s logo instead. This will be more visually appealing and better differentiate you from competitors.

Aloha Print Group Logo Transparent BgFor example, looking at Aloha’s logo, we would choose a darker blue table cloth, then accent this with white wherever possible.Accents with this color scheme could include anything from white streamers wrapping around the corners of the table to strategically placed brochures and handouts printed on white paper.   

As you are creating your table display, take a look at your branding guide and make sure your colors match up with those normally used by your brand.   

There are a few exceptions, however, as you should try to keep the color as muted yet pleasing as possible. Colors like bright yellow or lime green can be harsh on the eyes, and therefore should be avoided if at all possible. If you must use a color like this, do your best to reduce the intensity of the color by using a secondary color.


To complement your table, you should install a banner that provides some key information while also increasing your visibility. This could include the name of your business, contact information (URL and email address) and a slogan.

Your banner should be positioned based off of your location in the trade show. If you have a wall positioned behind you, print a horizontal banner and hang it high behind you for the greatest visibility. If you don’t have this luxury, use two vertical banners: you’ll be able to display them on either side of your station.

Electronic screens

To really catch some eyes at your show, consider using electronic screens to display messaging or a company video with subtitles. There’s a lot of “sameness” at tradeshows, so anything you can do that’s a little bit different is sure to attract some attention. 

Monitors can run looping PowerPoint presentations that share engaging facts about your business or key marketing phrases and slogans. Keep in mind that your most important information should be in your printed materials; i.e. the things that attendees can take home with them. Use electronic screens for surface level messaging, then rely on one-on-one conversations and these printed materials to deliver your essential points.

Brochures and flyers 

Of course, if you don’t have any information to hand out about your business, well then what are you doing at a trade show in the first place? You don’t want to only rely on the appeal of your table and your conversational skills to convert. Handouts - whether they be brochures, postcards or even folders full of information about your business - help prospects remember who you are once the trade show has ended.

We’ve previously covered the when you should use different types of trade show collateral, but another key aspect to consider when choosing what to use is whether these materials fit into the design scheme of your trade show presence. 

Your materials should match your color scheme and should include language that speaks directly to those attending the show. This language can be either through an introductory line in a brochure (i.e. “As an attendee of (name of event), you know…”) or by including a graphic element from the tradeshow, like the logo printed in a corner of one of your pieces, if allowed by the event. 

Prominently position these materials at your station so that attendees who may not be ready to talk can still grab some information to review at their leisure. Be sure that all your materials cover key topics like what you do, why you do it, and how your business can help solve attendee’s problems.

And remember: when you do talk to attendees, don’t let them leave without handing out these materials! To make it easy, consider packing a few kits beforehand with all your handouts in branded folders. This will allow you to quickly handout everything you want them to see without bogging them down with stacks of loose paper.

Tie it all together

Everything you bring to a trade show should work together to effectively convey your company’s message and values. From your content - like brochures and handouts - to the color scheme you use to represent your business, every element of your table should work together to help attendees leave with a strong, positive impression of your brand. 

When building the elements of your trade show display, think it through, put yourself in the shoes of attendees and craft a design that effectively communicates what sets your business apart from the many others in the room. 


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