Tradeshow Exhibits – Make That First Impression Count

First impressions are vital to your success in all aspects of life. When you attended your high school prom (not that many years ago—right?) – you went out and bought yourself a new dress or a new suit, perhaps rented a tux. You wanted to look your absolute best so you could impress your date and friends.

Well, if you are exhibiting at a tradeshow, your goals should be the same. Only this time you’re out to impress customers. It’s all about your “look.” How many potential customers will notice you? What is their impression likely to be?

The reality is: you should be asking yourself the same question you asked yourself as you were dressing for the prom: “will they like me?”

Dressing for the Dance

The key elements in exhibit booth presentation, according to priority, are:

  • Signage
  • Graphics
  • Lighting
  • Color
  • Booth Height
  • Wall Selection
  • Flooring


Just as headlines sell newspapers, effective signage draws potential buyers to your booth. Your goal should be to grab the attention of potential customers by presenting well-lit logos and large colorful signs.

trade show signage


Today’s technology enables us to print vibrant images and graphics – even wallpaper patterns – directly onto flame resistant foam board wall panels or onto foamcore or gator board and Lucite. We can reproduce the print-ready ads used in magazines on a flat bed printer after you send over the files.

Important advice for file formats: when you have a logo in an image, we prefer the file to be submitted in a vector format, like PDF. If you created your file in Illustrator, then just save the file out as a PDF, using the High Quality Print option and a Level 7. If you created the file in Photoshop, the key thing here is that you want to bring in the logo as a smart object. You do that by opening the logo file as a Smart Object. Once opened, copy that into the main document and then save that as a Photoshop PDF, same settings as above. By doing this you keep the logo in its vector format and it will print up much nicer and sharper than it currently is in the jpeg format.

trade show booth graphics


The importance of cost effective lighting for displaying the booth and its merchandise cannot be stressed enough. Unfortunately, many tradeshow exhibitors assume that convention center lighting will be adequate. Even when lighting in the facility is adequate, it is usually mercury vapor lighting, which creates an unnatural bluish color. LED lighting counterbalances the blue cast of mercury vapor lamps typical of convention centers. It can also be used to spotlight key items so they are brought into dynamic focus.

tradeshow booth lighting options


Display presentations should be colorized from light to dark, left to right. Creating order in colors is important. For example, a display of sweaters should present light colors on the left and move toward darker colors on the right, in other words, the same way we read. Do not mix colors randomly because that creates visual confusion.

trade show booth color

Booth Height

Typically, booths are 8 feet high. However, 10- or 12-foot booths are impressive because they stand out from your competitors’ booths. Also, the placement of large signs at the 8 – 12 foot height makes it easy for customers to see your message from a distance.

tradeshow booth wall height

Wall Selection

Your booth’s background wall is a key component in your presentation. Contrasting colors highlighted by excellent lighting will draw customers toward your merchandise displays. Drapery tends to absorb light like a sponge, is a better alternative and is also inexpensive. Metal display grids backed by foam board serve as practical, cost effective, and attractive merchandise displays.

tradeshow booth wall color


And finally, don’t overlook flooring. Like a tablecloth on a dining room table, your booth’s floor treatment coordinates all the elements of your exhibit’s presentation. White Masonite flooring offers real advantages over standard booth carpet. The material and light color reflects light onto the booth walls and, most importantly, your displays. It also gives the opportunity to reinforce your signage by displaying, for example, your company logo on the floor. Think of it this way—the NCAA and NBA have had much success promoting their teams and sponsors on their basketball court floors.

tradeshow booth flooring with logo

Having an attractive booth that employs multiple soft sell techniques is like having another sales representative in your booth. High visibility and brand identification both work. When designing your tradeshow exhibit, think of Stone’s Tradeshow Law: For every creative and practical action, there is a positive sales reaction.

Let Manny Stone Decorators help you achieve tradeshow booth success

Lloyd Stone is president of Manny Stone Decorators. He can be reached at 732-617-1177 or at