How to Get THERE From HERE...

Display is marketing. Marketing is brand-building.
A brand image is a visible expression of the values and mission of your busines, product, service.
'Bizness One-oh-One', people!

So, when you are displaying a plethora of products from various vendors at a show,
in a 'New Products' or 'New Exhibitors' display area, as I do for the show,
how do you express and build a brand?
Focus on the commonality. They are all at the same show, so go with the show brand.
It's a 'One for all, all for one' sort of thing.... by making the whole look good, we make the parts look good. Get it? Got It? Good!

So, how do we do that? I'll show ya'...
Seattle Gift Show Collateral (Advertising materials) for the Winter 08 show.
I received these from the show production company the week before the show -
usually I have more lead time than that, but it's ok. I can work under pressure!
I pulled them out of the FedEx envelope and immediately thought to myself
'I have a piece of vintage fabric that looks like this....'.
(Photographic memory does come in handy at times!)

I went up to the attic to my fabric bins, and located it. Yup. Pretty darn similar.
I let the fabric pattern and the collateral graphics bounce around in my head while I drank a Vanilla Coke, and in about ten minutes I had a plan. (Vanilla Coke jumpstarts creativity, I swear...)

However.....Forget the fabric. Too fussy. Too busy to focus on.
(I had thought that perhaps I would scan it and print it to use in various ways. Nope)
Stick with the graphic image. Go BIG, go BOLD, go COLORFUL. Make it POP.
Catch the eye of the customer and draw them into the area....the whole POINT of display.
Also, make it inexpensive and easy to disassemble.
I design and install this display, but I don't take it down.
Show staff does that, so I try to make it simple for them to pack up.
The props for this are all made of paper and a bit of wire, so they can be disposed of.

So, I gathered some red tissue paper, oversize yellow silk zinnias, and some wire, 
and made up four big ol' floppy poppy flowers. (instructions below) 
Grabbed some wire and yellow pompoms, and made some bees. (instructions below) 
Bought blue paper and black letters and black electrical tape 
(tho in my world it's always been called rifletape - one word - because colorguard makes the world go 'round).

Once at the convention center, it all came together like this:
The blue paper covers the center of the backdrop. the pedestals, and some of the low platforms. This swath of blue is centered in the display and it lines up with the main aisle in front of it - with the red pop of color, this is visible from the opposite end of the show floor!

Poppies n' Bees, creating a BUZZ...
(wrap black wire around large yellow pom poms, twisting it to create wings, 
then create a 'trail' behind them using the wire. attach to surface or hang with monofilament wire)

 Bee close-up! He was suspended on clear wire so he'd spin...and he did!

Bee Extreme close-up!
(use the giant silk zinnia as the center - wrap sheets of red-orange tissue around the stem, 
wire them on, and you're done. takes all of five minutes per flower)

Result? A simple way to translate the theme and brand image of the show to the display. 
I even grabbed some of the flyers, brochures, and postcards, and used them:

The shot I took from down the aisle was too fuzzy to use, darn it.
This is a cross-view of the display area, looking spiffy and bright
even though it was relocated from the sunny bright lobby into the dark recesses of the main hall.
(NOT my idea, I didn't even know about the change until I showed up onsite...
took me half an hour to locate my skids of supplies and get started.)

Setup was an adventure, I swear.
I thought I was on a reality show called "Survivor: Trade Show"
and expected to have to attend tribal council at the end of the day to see a dead body carried out.

Having been located in the lobby for the past five years,
I am not used to the constant noise level and racing tactics of forklifts
passing within mere inches of my feet.
Products fell off of pedestals because of the shaking floors caused by weighty loads on the forklifts,
and they kicked up wind that blew the heck out of my props.
sigh. Hectic is the only word I can think of that even comes close...
but we perservered and got it all done.
I have a heckuva' list of things to change for the next show, believe me!

My daughter and able assistant, Anni, says 'There is no Display without DRAMA'.
Too true. I wish it wasn't, but it seems to be the way of the trade right now.
D is for Deb, Diva, Display, Decorate....and apparently, Drama. sigh.


  1. Deb:
    I loved reading this post. Thanks for the insight into your creative process. That display looked great! I'm doing my first trade show in July, hopefully... in Atlanta. I'm nervous as you know what! So, from now until then I'm checking in right here!

  2. Your display looks super, but now I am craving a Chukar Cherry :>)


  3. Aaaaaaaaa-mazing.
    Deb, you are the BEST.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. It looks beautiful, Debi. I especially love the red poppies... how creative. Don't you love the "learning curve" of these types of experiences! Not. But, your display turned out really nicely. Thanks for taking time to give us the gory details. ;-)


    Charm & Grace Blog

  6. Well this was just BRILLIANT!!!
    Thanks for your constant motivating kick in the pants! I come here frequently to get off square one, and am getting ready for an Irish festival in the fall, I want to pick up some of your ideas and do a perfectly executed jig this year! Thanks,
    Chuck Denton
    Doherty & Sullivan's Irish Gds.