12 July 2018, 09:12 AM
5 tips for preparing your stand for a trade show

The event, which takes place from 2nd to 4th September, annually attracts more than 11,000 discerning food and drink buyers searching for the latest in artisan fine food and drink. It’s a huge opportunity to showcase your business, have some conversations and win over some hearts and minds for your brand.

Clare Sheffield is a brand expert and designer who works with a range of food and drink clients of all sizes on their brand identities. She helps businesses create environments that clearly and effectively communicate their key messages and personality. In addition to creating marketing materials, she often helps businesses with their presence at shows and events via her business Strong & Together.

Last year, she worked with Joli, an award-winning Great Taste Producer at Speciality & Fine Food Fair. The family-run firm focused its stand design on showcasing the Great Taste Award-winning Joli Perfectly Soft Black Garlic Bulb - a new product of the highest quality.

She said, “We used key brand messages to bring out the personality of the brand and recipe photography to prompt conversation. People responded incredibly well to the vibrant stand and mouth-watering product and recipe photography.”

For Joli, this advice resulted in a successful show and a lot of interest in the new product. Orders and commissions were taken at the event and the branded printed materials including recipe cards using the brand products created some great customer take-aways.

She added, “It’s common for clients to be paying less attention to their trade stand design than they should. The principle is the same, whether you are designing a full retail space, a single pull-up banner or a few square metres of pop-up show space – you need to stand out and use the space to its complete potential.”

Here are Clare’s top five recommendations to get started on your trade stand:

1 Focus

A trade stand is the same as every other branded application and is there to clearly communicate the brand’s key message to a defined target audience. Remember people will be walking by at speed, so think carefully about how the brand looks and feels in a snapshot. What will make people stop?  What is the product I want to talk about the most? Focus your decision-making on answering these questions.

2. Don’t over-do it

Keep text minimal and to the point.

A simple message wins, over reams of detail, every time. Expand through sales conversations and in equally well considered take-away materials such as bags containing cards and brochures, and temporary promotional areas on your website and social media. Use the trade stand to start the conversation, not to say it all.

3. Go for impact

Your trade stand will be seen from a distance. It will also be corner-to-corner with your competition. Keep your content choices simple and go for impact and scale. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean a massive logo; it could just as well mean a large striking expanse of colour, or a single engaging photo or illustration. It could be a set of bold, repeated shapes that draw the eye around the entire space. The only thing you want to be busy, is the stand itself!

4. Own it

It’s important not to design a trade stand as an isolated application. It should build upon existing brand identity and your customers’ experience with the brand to date. Using consistent colours and typefaces will ensure at-a-glance recognition from those already aware of your brand. If your brand experience is premium or quirky make sure that same sentiment is present in the stand by making careful material choices and investing in the whole physical experience. Let people inside – to touch, feel, taste - your product. Remember - you are part of the brand experience. Consider how your own appearance needs to work with or against the brand. Document the event but remember that people will want to see that you’re receptive and open and more interested in them than your phone.

5. Know what you are getting

Reduce surprise as much as possible. Make sure that designs are reviewed with a sense of scale. Designers can place a silhouette of a person in design concepts, advise you to pay for a colour proof, and ask for simple at-scale pre-production mockups of key 3D elements on your behalf. Ask what can be done to ensure you have the same understanding as the designer, and to get a fuller sense of the designs up close and from a distance, well before production begins. Remember that the stand needs to work both from a distance and also up close.

Clare adds: “So often I hear clients say that they can’t afford a massive super slick trade stand and I explain that it’s not always quantity of space but quality of message, design and communication that will help them have a successful show.”

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