What Makes a Good Exhibit Design? Ideas & Examples

Trade show displays at an event

Maintaining an edge over your competition is a matter of building a better product, offering superior customer service, and conducting an effective marketing strategy. 

In the confined and unique world of trade shows, the effective marketing part comes first. None of the rest matters if you can’t bring people into your booth. Because trade shows are crowded and cluttered with exhibitors, all demanding attention from those attending, it’s vital that you have an exhibit design that stands out. 

We know that creating a good design is easier said than done, which is why we’ve created this list of helpful tips, tricks, and ideas you can use the next time you’re preparing for a trade show. 

Tip #1: Use Your Design to Tell a Story & Create an Experience

Trade show exhibitors can take a lesson from the carnival show barkers of old. They knew that they had to make their attraction stand out by offering something different from all the rest and promising a unique and memorable experience to their customers. 

It’s the same idea for trade show exhibitors. Your products and services may be very similar to your competitors, but that doesn’t mean that your marketing efforts need to be. What is different about your company, and how can that translate into your exhibit design? Remember that you only have a few seconds to draw in your crowd, so text should be limited. Rely on images,  be honest about who your company is and what you do, and make sure the tone behind your images is consistent with the tone of your brand. 

Tip #2: Use Both Physical & Digital Assets

Trade shows have been around for a long time, so there are some traditional practices that should be followed. You’ll still be using physical assets like trade show banners and signage, tables and chairs, brochures and pamphlets, and free swag. But digital assets can make the entire experience more interactive for your audience. In fact, in 2022, most people expect everything to be accessible through mobile devices.

Use laptops, digital banners, and other assets to emphasize your website, social media platform, products, and services. This can help your audience learn more about your company and what you do. 

Although this is technically not “digital,” if you’re selling a product, you’ll want to demonstrate how it works for your customers. Most people aren’t going to buy your product if they don’t know how it works or how it will solve their problems. If you can’t bring your product with you, consider installing digital kiosks that play animated videos of how your product works. 

You could also have laptops or kiosks in the booth that display your catalog, which will make it easier for your potential leads to view product specifications and pricing. 

Remember that people absorb new information in different ways. Some people may learn better from a conversation while others may need a visual aid to help them understand. When designing your exhibit, keep your audience in mind. Who is your target audience, and how will they best absorb the information you want to give them? 

Tip #3: Keep Content Clear & Concise

If you’re like most business owners, you can talk about your company and products all day long, but you shouldn’t try to do that with your exhibit design. Respect your audience’s time, and keep your displays focused and simple. Concentrate your customer’s attention to the most important elements. Too much visual or written content causes the attention to wander and doesn’t allow the prospect time to consider how your products will work for them and to experiment with ideas. 

When creating the visual or written content, think about what problems your potential customer may be experiencing and how your product or service will help them solve that issue. Is there a common problem that you could focus on? This problem-solution dynamic needs to be translated into your design. And remember, although it’s important to be unique, you also want to be sure that you don’t become so avant-garde and abstract that you end up annoying your audience. 

Exhibit Design Ideas

If you’re still in the brainstorming phase of the exhibit design process, take a look at some of our favorite design ideas.

1. Pop-Up Displays

portable expo display

One drawback of traditional trade show displays is that they can be heavy, bulky, physically demanding, and time-consuming to set up. This can be especially problematic if you attend several shows each season.

If you’re planning on attending quite a few shows this season, consider making a lightweight cardboard pop-up display. They’re versatile, easy to set up, and come in a wide variety of sizes. You can also easily customize your pop-up display and change the design of your display based on the show you’re attending. And, even better, they’re one of the most affordable trade show exhibit options available.

Exhibit Booths

custom exhibit booth design

When you picture an exhibit booth, you most likely think of a standard, simple booth, but nowadays, so many different elements can be incorporated into the general exhibit booth design. 

Exhibit booths can be customized to showcase your company’s brand and products in multiple spatial dimensions and wired and outfitted for lights and sound. And on top of that, these booths still remain easy to set up and break down. 

If you decide to incorporate a booth into your exhibit, treat it as an interactive space where your potential customers can learn more about your products and services. You want to make sure your booth is small enough to fit into the space the venue has given you, but you also want to ensure your customers and sales team have enough space to move around and interact with the elements contained in the booth. And, be sure that the visual and written content in the booth is consistent with your brand. 

Exhibit Banners

trade show banner

You may also want to design a trade show banner for your exhibit. You can personalize these banners with any type of graphic or content to help audiences locate your booth. Banners are also essential elements of mobile marketing as they are affordable, easy to set up, and easy to transport. In general, your banner should be as simple as possible and showcase your business name, logo, and your tagline or motto. Use brand colors and ensure it’s easily recognizable from a distance. 

Portable Displays

Portable displays

Lastly, a portable display can be a unique element to add to your exhibit design. While pop-up displays are also considered a portable display, there are also other options you can take advantage of, including portable fabric walls that are easy to assemble and come in many sizes and colorful backlit displays which can help draw attention to your exhibit or to other elements within it. 

Design Your Next Exhibit With Help From GraphiColor

Are you still stumped? Get exhibit design advice from GraphiColor. Founded in 1984, GraphiColor is an industry-leading and award-winning exhibit company. Our experts can help you both design and build your next trade show exhibit. We specialize in designing and building portable displays, pop-up displays, booths, banners, custom lighting, seating, display cases, counters, kiosks, hanging banners, podiums, and so much more. Contact us today to schedule a project consultation.

Related posts


Free Design & Consultation

We’re proud to offer free exhibit design and consultation services to our clients. Our team of talented professionals can assist you with planning and executing the perfect trade show booth and display.

Phone Free Consultation Contact