Signage: More Bang for Your Trade Show Buck

Brand Basics

Trade shows can represent a big investment for any small business. So, you want to be sure that you maximize every opportunity. Your signage opportunities are one of the most obvious, but also one of the most fraught with potential for missteps, says Robert Richardson, owner of Richardson Graphics & Marketing in Las Vegas, Nevada—one of the trade show capitals of the world.

“It’s easy to get lost in the crowd, so you really have to consider what you’re doing with your booth to attract as much attention as you can,” he says.

Here are five tips to keep in mind when you’re designing your signs:

1. Refine your message

It’s tempting to try to say everything you can about your company on your signage. But, when it comes to impact, simple is best, Richardson says. Focus on one or two key messages on each piece of signage. That’s enough to draw in your audience and help you communicate without clutter.

2. Know the high/low rules

Use signage at eye level or above to get people into your booth, and use signage below eye level—on tables or other places in your booth—to engage and inform visitors once they’re inside the booth, says Jeff Zampino, creative director at Beacon Marketing, a marketing firm in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s also important to know traffic patterns, and position your signage so the most people possible will see it.

3. Don’t be so square—or rectangular

Richardson doesn’t like to create rectangular or square signage for his customers. Instead, he prefers signage cut into unexpected shapes that create a surprising visual impact and catch the eye.

4. Make it legible

The most beautiful typeface in the world is a waste if it can’t be seen, Zampino says. Use large bold letters for signage that needs to be seen from far away; thin lettering diminishes your impact. If you’re writing something in all caps, sans serif fonts work best, he says.

5. Get creative with materials

These days, the sky’s the limit when it comes to trade show signage materials, Zampino says. You can choose from sleek vinyl banners, stretched fabric surfaces, or LED display signs. Talk to signage vendors and look at past show photos to get fresh, creative ideas that will capture attention on the show floor.

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