Tips to Light Your Trade Show Booth, Exhibit, Kiosk, or Display
What the Best Trade Show Booths Have in Common
They say that you have three seconds to compel potential visitors to explore your trade show booth. How can you accomplish that in so little time? The plain fact is that people at trade shows are judging books by their covers. How can you make your book cover the most attractive one in the room?
Whether you have a kiosk, table top display, pop up display, or sprawling 9000-square-foot exhibit, one thing remains vitally important: Effective lighting. Even the most fascinating companies with the most important messages will be lost in the shadows without attractive lighting that does its job.
Use Lighting to Attract Visitors
The most successful displays will use lighting in three ways. The first is to attract visitors. This doesn't mean you have to have a full-on light show or cast the Batman symbol on the ceiling. A little goes a long way when you smartly use colored LED tape, uplights, and moving lights. Think of these as tools, and don't be afraid to put some careful thought into catching your potential visitor's eye from across the room.
Accent to Highlight
If you have literature you want visitors to read, or business cards, or if you aren't selling trips to Mars, you will need more than just attention-grabbing lights. You need your lighting to accent things for the sake of clarity. What should be accented? Your logo, probably, and certainly any products you are displaying. You might want to consider spotlighting any surface where your literature sits, as well. Accent lighting in trade show exhibits calls attention and clarifies and these two things, if you think about it, are basically your main goals.
The third thing you want to keep in mind is that your trade show booth is going to be inhabited by human beings. Your lighting should flatter. Opt for warmer lighting temperatures, or people might think they are talking to a blue-hued zombie. And make sure it's bright enough. For this purpose, you could use everything from recessed lighting to track lighting.
The best trade show booths dazzle the visitor, attracting them like a moth to a candle, but they also accommodate the transmission of information without distraction. People, your logo, and even your literature need to look great, so keep these things in mind.
Large Trade Show Displays and the Suspension of Disbelief
Portability is a theme that will pervade every aspect of your large trade show booth, but there is an inherent contradiction. You want to bring your visitors and potential customers to a professionally designed world that seems like it has always been there! You and I know that the display will be broken down and packed up at the end of the weekend. But this should never cross your visitor's mind.
Instead, your visitor should wonder, "HOW is this company capable of creating a world that seems so permanent?" In the movies, they call it "suspension of disbelief." Movie-goers know that what they're seeing on the screen isn't "real." But it is so compelling that they suspend their disbelief and become emotionally invested in the spectacle before them.
That's exactly what you want your visitors to do. Your booth has to appeal to your viewer's imagination and sense of wonder. You know your trade show booth is portable, but it should have the illusion of permanence. One way to accomplish this is to have layered lighting. Ambient light, accent lighting, and task lighting used in tandem create the sense that your large trade show exhibit is as permanent as any home or retail store.
Table Top Displays and Pop Up Displays
If you are presenting a table top or pop up display, you shouldn't sacrifice good lighting just because you are taking up less space. You still want an engaging, attractive appearance that will draw visitors by appealing to their sense of wonder.
Remember to let your lighting do the work of getting potential customers to your table. The most common lighting for both table top and pop up exhibits is clamp on display lights. They clamp on to the tops of your display and illuminate the contents of your message. If you have a tri-fold display, for example, you may want three clamp on display lights to illuminate each of the three sections of the tri-fold. It's very important, if you are using clamp on lights for your portable display, that you choose only high quality lights.
You should also know that lighting table top displays doesn't have to stop at just using a few clamp on lights. Why not make use of some LED rope or tape to draw the eye to your trade show banner? Or use a light box to add some magic to your logo or any message you want to convey.
In fact, here is a simple how-to guide for building your own custom light box.
Trade Show Kiosks
Kiosks will typically have an electronic monitor displaying video content and a surface for literature your visitors can read or take with them. You will often see a clamp on light accenting a logo above this surface. Too often, presenters leave their lighting design a little sparse at trade show kiosks. Why not add some LED tape under the surface of the small table for visual appeal? Why not affix a light box? If you have great content, then don't be afraid to attract visitors with interesting lighting. Use the small size to your advantage by impressing visitors with a lot of cool light in a little space!
Final Thought for Trade Show Booth Ideas
In trade shows and in life it is always good to maintain a level of mystique if you are want to influence others. Human beings are interested in things that arouse wonder and that aren't immediately comprehensible. Here's a secret: Mystique is simply the result of hard work and careful, deliberate decisions. Your trade show visitors should ask, "How could they DO this? How could they establish a fully functioning coffee shop, complete with exciting lighting design, for a mere weekend trade show?"
Only you and I know what takes place behind the scenes and accounts for this mystique: A lot of hard work, research, and inspiration. These are some basic principles of trade show lighting. Now its up to you to decide how to apply these principles and WOW your potential customers with the mystique that comes with the sophisticated use of exhibit booth lighting.