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Maintaining Brand Consistency at Trade Shows

By: Rob Murphy
Posted: May 4, 2011, from the May 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Having a professional, engaging exhibit is essential, but even more important is making sure it’s in alignment with your company and brand strategy and priorities. Go back to those key attributes that define your brand. Are you eco-conscious? Innovative? Dependable? Make that the primary inspiration for the exhibit design.

Using the eco-conscious attribute as an example, which, at its core, is about conserving resources and minimizing waste. The booth design should reflect that—perhaps by using lightweight, eco-friendly materials such as recyclable aluminum or energy efficient LED lighting, which can reduce energy use by up to 90%. Using earth-friendly materials such as cotton for graphics or video or transfer drives in lieu of printed marketing materials are other easy-to-implement options.

2. Involve Key Stakeholders Early and Communicate Clearly

Engage your exhibit partners well in advance of the show to discuss overall strategy, and let them help you formulate the best way to let your brand shine. Be open about the key messages you want to convey and discuss ways they can be brought to life. Strategy meetings should include advertising and public relations stakeholders to ensure messages remain consistent across all communication vehicles.

3. Identify Desired Goal

An essential part of any strategy discussion is identifying the ultimate goal at a trade show. Are you looking to reinforce your company’s image? Launch a new identity or product? The answer will impact exhibit design—including overall structure, traffic flow and graphics and how your brand is perceived by attendees.

For example, if the main goal is to educate attendees about a brand, the exhibit should include demo areas, product samplings and perhaps a theater for presentations. If the focus is closing retail distribution agreements for a product, include an enclosed conference room for private conversations.

4. Use Effective Messaging