Live Support

0800 111 4001


5 ways to avoid graphic design disasters!

January 21, 2016 | Laura Baines

We’ve all seen eyebrow raising advertising examples like these before:

Graphic design disasters

But when 90% of the average graphic designer’s time is spent designing for print, web and media, are we really surprised?

Once or twice a year, when their attention also turns to designing on a larger scale – for designing exhibition stand graphics – it’s easy to see similar miss-considerations.

There are many specialist considerations when designing graphics for an exhibition stand; range, sightlines, visitor journey stages, environment and wayfinding to name just a few. Of course, the different technical specifications for digital CMYK large format printing is not always too familiar to your designer either.

It’s a world fraught with jargon, but we’ve expanded on just a few of these many specialist considerations to get you started. Hopefully it’ll be the help you need to ensure your exhibition stand graphics are deadly effective, not disastrous!

Sightlines in the exhibition environment

One of the toughest challenges in an exhibition hall is standing out from the competition.

Ensure your stand’s graphics are not going to be obscured or camouflaged by the venue’s features, your competition or the visitors themselves. You don’t want anything getting in the way of your visitor’s sightline to your all important message!

Careful consideration of the floorplan; noting entrances, seminar theatres, surrounding stands and different approach angles along with how your stand will appear when occupied by your staffers and visitors are both vital.

As one of many exhibitors at a show, it’s important to use every available opportunity to display your message and catch your audience’s attention. While you can buy larger stand spaces to cover more ground, it’s just as effective to use height to your advantage. Many exhibitors forget that they’ve paid for the airspace above their stand; make sure not to make the same mistake, utilise the space!

Design impactful hanging banners or stand supported high level signs. These long-range graphics will signpost your stand to your audience from a distance to help them find you.

The 3 second rule – using a hierarchy of graphic communications

It’s commonly thought that three seconds is the average amount of time it takes to make an impression on someone. It’s not long at all to catch your audience’s attention, communicate your message and make a positive enough impression for them to decide to take further action.

‘If you want people to really get your message, your graphics need to contain more than just pretty photos. They need colourful, relevant images, legible fonts, and concise copy that provides the answer to the question on most attendees’ minds: What’s in it for me?’

(Candy Adams, A Rookie’s Guide to Graphics)

This is where the hierarchy of graphic communication comes into play. By prioritising what you want your audience to see and understand first, you can answer their question ‘What’s in it for me’ within that three second window.

Start by using your graphics to immediately communicate who you are; this is usually straightforward logo placement. Secondly, communicate what you do with supporting text, images and icons, in as few words as possible. If you can summarise this while mentioning your USP too, even better.

The more you use images, the quicker your message gets processed. For example, the power of using your customer’s logos as part of your message can help you capitalise on the fact that people may recognise them more than you. They may consider themselves similar or a competitor to your customers and thus conclude if you can help them, you can probably help me.

Graphic design as ‘the silent sales person’

A common miss-held view is that there’s no place for lengthier, detailed copy or diagrams on a stand. But that’s not always true. It’s all about placement, understanding the zones of your stand and your visitor’s journey.

Once your visitor has found you and you have their attention, your graphics can hold, educate and even self-qualify your visitors.

When busy, this added depth of content can capture the prospect for a few more vital seconds, giving your team a greater chance of getting to everyone.

If you use other visual methods of communication, such as animation or digital content, don’t forget to integrate the two. Interaction with digital content is greatly enhanced when supporting graphics explain what people are about to experience.

graphic design hierarchy

If you would like to find out more about the hierarchy of graphic communication, you can visit our advice page here.

Starting from the beginning

While there are many more special considerations for your stand’s graphic design, the process can be made easier by involving your graphic designer early on in the process of designing your entire stand.

As a minimum, they need to understand your exhibiting campaign theme and messaging, and how your stand will look in terms of layout and architecture. Provide them with a clear 3D visual of your stand to work from.

Also don’t forget how vital stand position is for sightlines to your stand, so provide your designer with the floorplan outlining where your stand is located and which way it faces.

And finally, the best news is…

If all this sounds a little technical and daunting, don’t worry!

We are delighted to announce that in addition to our digital content team creating engaging apps, games and surveys, we have recently brought graphic design in-house too. This means that we can offer a complete approach to exhibition architecture, content, graphic design and engagement all under one roof.

To discover more about how we can help drive your exhibiting results and improve ROI, please contact us here, or find out more about our graphic design service.

Leave a comment