Making the most of your exhibition graphics

June 17, 2009

Exhibition Graphics

Your exhibition stand has between three and five seconds to catch the attention of a passing visitor – so unless you look like Angelina Jolie you need strong, eye-catching graphics to stop visitors in their tracks.

Clear, powerful graphics are within everyone’s reach, regardless of budget. Scan Display has produced some guidelines for designing exhibition graphics.

1. Use a maximum of six to 10 words
If the text on your stand takes more than three seconds to read you will have lost your visitor. This means that your graphics should feature roughly between six and 10 words maximum, along with an interesting image and company name or logo.

The importance of your image cannot be stressed enough. It needs to speak loudly and clearly and say what you can’t fit into your text.

2. Use the right words
Remember your audience and only list information that explains how your product or company will benefit them directly.

Visitors do not just want to know information about your company or product specs – they want to know how this information can benefit them, so use phrases like: “Reduces transportation costs by 20%” or “50% faster internet speed” etc

3. Use light over dark or dark over light colour combinations
When it comes to using colour in exhibition graphics there are some basic rules to ensure readability. The colour of your text must create a sharp contrast with your chosen background colour and the general rule is to avoid busy multi-coloured backgrounds.

Effective colour combinations typically include dark colours such as black, navy or forest green on light backgrounds such as white, lemon yellow or light blue. You can also reverse this principle and use light colours on dark backgrounds.

Don’t use red on blue. Also avoid black on any dark colour. And be very careful when you float your text over an image or background that varies in colour – there is a good chance that it will be difficult to read.

4. Use basic serif or sans-serif styles
The aim of your stand graphics should be to communicate your message clearly and concisely. Your images, not your text, should be your art!

Arty fonts are difficult to read and many visitors will simply give up and move on to your competitor’s stand. Avoid italics and cursive styles and don’t use more than two fonts per graphic.

5. Text must be a minimum of 10cm
The rule of thumb is that type size should be a minimum of 2.5cms for every 1m you step away from it. Walking by in the aisle most visitors are approximately 4m from your exhibition stand. Therefore it makes sense to have your text at least 10cm high.

If you want visitors to read your text from further away you have to increase the size of your font accordingly.

6. Position text in the ‘top zone’
The 1m zone across the top of your exhibit is the ideal place for text. When the aisles are full of people during a busy exhibition this is the only area that is guaranteed to be unobstructed.

However if you really can’t fit all your text into this area, don’t go lower than eye level (roughly 1.5m up from the floor).

7. Use one large, well-cropped image
Rather than a collage of small images, use one large main image to fill the majority of your graphic. This will have a far greater impact than several small images.

To increase your picture’s effectiveness, crop your picture to highlight the most important feature of the image.

8. Always use high resolution images
It is impossible to create a professional appearance for your stand if your images are grainy or fuzzy. Check all images for resolution before you buy them from stock photographic image sources.

Company logos are potentially problematic as the standard resolution used in letterheads etc is not high enough for large exhibition stands.

9. Position lights close together
Without proper lightning the best graphics and text in the world are worth nothing as they simply fade away.

Scan Display recommends using two 100 -or 200-watt halogen lights spaced about 1m feet apart. For optimum coverage and to avoid glare, position the lights about 1/2m away from the graphics and light the entire back wall, not just the header.

10. Clean and maintain your graphics properly
Having spent hours ensuring the best possible graphics for your exhibition stand, you need to make sure they do not get damaged and end up looking tacky.

Following these basic design rules is the first step towards creating a successful, eye-catching stand.