The competition at trade shows is fierce so taking control of the elements of your display you can impact is crucial. One of the most important things you need to do is to get your display design right at the show! Some businesses invest heavily in having the biggest booth and that certainly helps win the attention needed to beat off competitors. For those companies with a more modest budget, getting the design right can be both cost effective and more strategically impactful in reaching your target audience.

With key imagery you can express your brand without words. With a compelling tagline you can signal your company’s business and purpose. With smart design you can let the visual express the emotion behind your product or service. 

1. The Tagline Must Be Readable From Distance

Using the concepts behind billboard advertising, we know that the fewest words can have the greatest impact when trying to catch someone’s attention from a distance while they’re passing by your booth. As a rule of thumb, your tagline should be less than 7 words. Even fewer can be better. If you’re a small or medium-sized business, your logo is secondary in the design. Your tagline is to define what your brand (and your booth) is about so try not to get too complex: use short, relatable words. Text should be around 12” tall to be read 10 feet away.

Font choice should also be front of mind while ensuring your message can be read from a distance. Clearly, if your brand has standards, you should maintain the defined font family. However, if you have room to choose, generally speaking, san-serif fonts are easier to read from a distance.

2. Limit the Number of Images

While an image is worth a thousand words, a bunch of images can create a visual jumble when competing for the attention of trade show attendees in a time-crunch. In the case of a 10’ x 10’ trade show display, ideally only one large photo should be used. As discussed in the previous tip, billboard designs are meant for high impact and ease of digesting the message. Do not clutter the design with extra photos. There’s a time and place for using all of those photos, just not in your booth design. Handouts are a great way to show photos to your clients of
previous jobs, products or services your company has to offer.

If you plan to incorporate a TV monitor for video, presentation, or interactive graphics, be mindful of how the design of that element complements the rest of the booth design. Make sure the two parts are designed with one another in mind to maximize your brand exposure.

Extra display materials such as small signs should be kept to a minimum to avoid diluting the overall message and distracting attendees from the larger message of the booth. Avoid the temptation of throwing multiple messages out in the hopes of one resonating. Maintain one large message for the booth design, and utilize changing graphics that are specialized depending on the type of show you’re exhibiting.

3. Negative Space & Use of Solid Colors

Less really is more in trade show display design. A crowded design with competing taglines and photos can leave a display’s message incoherent. Provide ample space in the design for negative space or solid colors or background patterns. You can capture people’s attention without throwing photos and words at them. Leaving room for the viewer to understand the message is important.

Throughout the overall design, regardless of how many panels, counters, or stations included, we recommend using no more than three colors in the overall design scheme. More than 3 colors will cause the design to be overly busy and will become distracting.

4. Leave Room to Customize In The Future

Modular and portable trade show displays should be treated as evolving marketing opportunities. These modern booth panels are meant to be regularly updated. If your company uses tension fabric displays, create a panel that has multiple graphics so you can change the message depending on the event. This strategy allows you to showcase different products, services, or programs depending on the audience you’re targeting at the event.

For a small additional investment, you can have multiple graphics at the ready that are relevant and will resonate as more timely. In some cases you may not need extra graphics. With two-sided panels, you could simply create one graphic with a different message on each side, so you can just rotate the panel depending on the event and the messaging needed.


With all of this advice in mind, you can create a successful booth design that can change with the times while keeping your brand fresh! And if graphic design is not your forte, let us help you! Our experienced graphic designers know exactly how to maximize brand potential and create an eye-catching display that meets your needs! We charge $90 per hour and have promotional deals for certain displays, give us a call on 888-977-1223 for more information!