STAND DESIGN: WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A WINNER?

How often have you walked around an exhibition turning green with envy at the sleek lines and brilliant lighting of a competitors stand?  Or conversely, stood and looked at a stand for ages thinking ‘I have no idea who thought those colours / graphics / live monkeys were a good idea?”.  That’s the biggest problem with stand design, it’s so flipping subjective and what’s one person’s Louis Roederer is likely to be another one’s Babycham! So what does make a good stand design after all? Well, the World Exhibition Stand Awards 2019 have just been announced so we’re rounding up some of the categories that caught our eye.

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What’s It All About? 

The World Exhibition Awards are a new initiative in partnership with Mash Media and Exhibition World to celebrate the very best in stand design, regardless of the size of show or global location. Across 28 categories, a leading panel of over 20 experts from across the industry judge stands on areas including engagement, technology, sustainability and story-telling.  Going beyond just the look and style of the stands, judges were asking for connections, experience and relevance ensuring that stands that won demonstrated how they solved problems for visitors and went beyond a simple features led sales story. But who won and more importantly…. why?

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It’s a phrase that’s increasingly being used in the marketing and PR world (and reality TV!) where everyone wants to share their journey with the audience, to make a powerful connection that ultimately leads to an action, in the case of exhibitions hopefully a transaction.  But how do you bring story-telling into what might only be a 9m squared space, or in 6-10 words on a graphics board? Admittedly, the larger the space the more licence to get creative, likewise it might be more difficult to engage through a story with a more functional product… but not impossible.

And the winner is… the one that caught our eye in this category was from WRG on behalf of Roche. This wasn’t  a big gaming stand like Fortnite or Jurassic World with amazing pre-exisiting graphics and a well known name, but a more functional, complex product, albeit one with life-changing outcomes.  WRG took the emotional and physical impact of patients with degenerative lung disease and brought to life how things could be different, and better through using Roche treatments. Visitors were immersed in an interactive gallery, under the strapline ”Hold onto Independence’   and delivered stories through immersive sound showers to demonstrate how independence could be retained in a world that seemed to be shrinking.  A powerful articulation of showing what you do. Another great example is Charity Water who encourage visitors to walk a short distance carrying water to give a taste of what it’s like for people who walk up to 8 miles a day with significantly heavier containers just to get clean water. (Click to point 7 of this blog for more details.)

The Inspiration…. regardless of the size of budget for your stand think about how you can bring your story to life, how do you immerse visitors in what you’re passionate about and make it matter to them.

Small & Compact Doesn’t Mean Boring & Dull 

We often hear it’s harder to create an impact with a smaller stand. Sometimes, the opposite can be true – how do you fill a large stabd? How do you keep it consistent? How many staff do you need? But, it is undeniably tough when a smaller stand means a smaller budget so the Silver winner for stands up to 24m square really caught out eye. Aluvista created a stand for client Macroart with the aim of building an interactive space for social media opportunities. The result was an upside down lounge, themed around Lionel Richie’s Dancing on the Ceiling. When visitors took a snap on the stand and then flipped it, it did indeed look as though they were dancing on the ceiling creating great content to share across social media.

The Inspiration … if you’re tight on budget and space, you definitely need to think creatively but the key is being really sure you’ve nailed those SMART objectives right at the start of the process. Have absolute clarity about the action you want your stand to drive and then ruthlessly deliver it.

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Be Bold With Branding 

So often we’ve stood and puzzled over the corporate identity of a stand and questioned who they are and what they do.  There was no mistaking the brand for Gold Winner Xquisite Productions in their creation for FAB ice-lollies. From the giant logo at the entrance to the transparent dome to the ever more giant 3D FAB lollies adorning the whole stand, it was strikingly obvious what the stand was all about and what you should expect from entering. And the design created real fun for both children and parents, creating memories associated to the brand.

The Inspiration … obviously it helps if you have an instantly recognisable household brand but even if you don’t it doesn’t mean you should use 300 words on a graphics board to articulate what you do.  The process of nailing your proposition, your pitch and your brand identity should all have been navigated before you think about exhibiting but if it hasn’t, it’s a great opportunity to get down in 6-10 words what you’re all about and why that matters to customers … and then make it the hero of everything else on your stand.

There are so many more examples we could share about what caught our eye now the results have been announced, but as we’re all about the inspiration… we’d highly recommend clicking over to the Awards site and taking a look around for yourself.  As we mentioned at the start, stand design is highly subjective so the things that gave us butterflies might leave others cold – that’s the reality of exhibitions.  And, that’s why it’s so important to have an independent panel of judges with such a wide range of experiences and insight.

Stand design is one of the hardest elements to nail for any exhibition and one that will probably give you the most sleepless nights so if you’re grappling with graphics or dithering over design why not give us a call and we’ll help you untangle the tension and deliver a stand that engages, educates and inspires your audience. Click here to find our contact details .

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