4 Rules for Trade Show Graphic Design

Not all design is created equal, especially when it comes to trade show graphic design. For example, the same rules don’t apply to both brochures and billboard ads. Each of these marketing tools has a different purpose and is aimed at an audience with different levels of interest in your company/products/services. The billboard ad has to hook the audience within 2 seconds with a headline, while the brochure audience has a higher stake in your product or service.

The same is true for trade show graphic design. Your booth has to stand out among hundreds of others on a crowded trade show floor. Therefore, you have to attract attention quickly and try to hold that attention. Think billboard, not brochure.


Legible Copy

When designing text for your trade show graphics, use these three simple rules.

  1. Select a font that is easy to read.
  2. Use a color that helps your copy stand out from the background.
  3. Keep the copy to a minimum. i.e., think billboard, not brochure. Your objective is to get attention, not tell your entire company story.



It can be argued that color is the most important detail of trade show display graphics. Colors have a wonderful way of establishing the mood of a particular space. Attendees at a trade show will make subconscious assumptions about a booth based on color. Your color scheme should reflect your brand, but you also want it to be inviting. Use colors and color combinations to make the biggest visual impact while maintaining a professional appearance. Incorporate a color not used by your competitors.


Form Follows Function

As with all graphic design, when laying out your trade show displays, consider balance and proportion of the overall composition. Consider where you want visitors’ eyes to go when they view your display. Graphics tell a story, so help people follow a flow that enables them to experience the full impact of the design. Also, remember the scale of the finished product. A photo that looks great on your website or in your brochure may not be large enough to use for an eight-foot display.


Strategic Use of Light

You want your graphics to be seen by as many people as possible. Make sure your graphics are well-lit with quality display lighting that enhances the imagery and messaging of your graphics. In fact, lighting and color are extremely similar because they both have an impact on mood, draw attention to your space and if they are poorly executed they will convey the wrong message to attendees.

Comments (1)

Great tips here. There are rules behind graphic design – what makes a good logo or not. It’s important to know these basics in order to make sure your graphics easily communicate and create interest.

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Plum Grove

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Plum Grove


Plum Grove