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What You Should Know About Trade Show Graphics: A Refresher

Posted By Kevin Fett
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Trade show graphic design goes hand-in-hand with production to deliver results worthy of representing your image on the show floor. Naturally you trust your freelance or in-house designer, ad agency, or exhibit house to do a great job. Just keep in mind that you’ll be approving the graphics before and after they’re produced. So here’s what you need to know:


Custom Rental Display - CobaltAs your silent ambassador to the crowd, graphics play a pivotal role in your sales process. Graphics serve to attract attention and convey your message. These are a few of most common issues that seasoned trade show exhibit designers encounter with client graphics:

-Lack of an integrated theme or message. Graphic images and text should work together to communicate in a unified, cohesive manner. Build your graphics around the single, most important concept you want your audience to take away from their experience with your team.

-Using images that will “get attention” but are not “on-brand”.  Key to effective brand management is consistency. Exhibit graphics should reinforce how your brand is marketed through other media including your website, social platforms, ads and collateral. Select new images that deliver that wow factor but are relevant to, and reflect, your brand.  

Custom Exhibit - California Walnut-Cluttered visuals/no focal point. Your logo is not a message, it’s identification that is typically placed on the highest and largest signs. Fewer, bolder images make a greater impact on the viewer. Use high quality images that will scale for use in larger formats.

-Too much copy. Concise, easy to read text makes it more likely that attendees will actually get your message. According to Exhibitor Magazine’s “A Rookie’s Guide to Graphics”, ideas should be expressed in six words or less to be read.

Tip: Invest in a 3-D rendering of your exhibit using your proposed graphic designs so you can review the overall effect before production files are generated.


Exhibit houses that print graphics in-house are in a better position to effectively control the production process from pre-flighting digital files, proofs and client approvals to finishing and staging for inspection. If alterations are needed along the journey, they can be executed quickly.

Take a tour of the plant facilities at your exhibit house. It provides you with the opportunity to observe, learn, and ask questions about how your graphics will be produced. These are some of the computerized machines you may encounter.


Custom Exhibit Rental - Good Smile-Plotters cut adhesive-backed vinyl line art and lettering which is applied to surfaces primarily for signage.

-Inket printers print onto rolls of flexible plastic. After slitting the roll, individual panels are laminated for protection. Wide or large format equipment can print on rolls up to 100". Watch this video

-Flatbed printers are print directly onto a wide variety of hard surfaces in range of thicknesses. Direct printing saves time and money vs using multi-step methods. Substrate materials can include acrylic, pvc board, metal and glass among others. Acrylic inks are then cured using strong UV-light.

-Dye sublimation printers use water-based inks designed to bond with polyester fabrics. The process results in continuous-tone prints of vibrant, photographic quality that never washes off.  Printers with capacities over 100" wide are considered super wide or grand format which can reduce or eliminate seams. Fabric graphics should be made to measure and sewn to fit for a wrinkle-free finish. Fabric graphics may be mounted to structures using SEG (silicone edge gasket), zippers or Velcro® which are sewn onto the fabric.

Tip: Allow time to preview the staging of your exhibit to inspect the final product before it ships to your event.

Contact Ion Exhibits for expert design and in-house production of your graphics for exhibits, events and environments.