Designing Trade Show Displays to Inspire an Emotional Experience


As a trade show exhibitor, you want attendees to commit to a relationship with your business. Whether that’s signing up for a free trial offer, joining a mailing list or simply dropping a business card in a fishbowl, your display needs to create feelings of value and trust that help further this relationship.

Depending on your product or service, you might also want to tap into feelings of nostalgia for a better, easier time. Or perhaps it’s the feelings of confidence and success that come with delivering cutting-edge solutions. Fundamentally, emotionally attractive design makes people feel good. And it’s this “feel good” emotion that makes people willing to commit to a specific product, service or company.

Effective emotional design is that secret ingredient in a trade show display that turns casual attendees into brand evangelists. It’s what takes your display to the next level– selling a feeling or idea rather than simply a product or service. In short, it’s an emotional story that taps into the very core essence of your target customer’s identity.

Ready to take your tradeshow display to the next level? From display color to exhibit lighting, the strategic use of basic design elements is key to inspiring a strong emotional response in attendees. Here’s how to get started:

Define the emotional goal.

In order for your display to emotionally resonate with trade show attendees, you need to know what will move your target attendee. Start by making a customer profile. What do they like/dislike? What are their current frustrations/challenges? What solutions are they searching for? The next step is to hone in a specific emotion that will not only resonate with your attendees, but is also an authentic representation of your brand.

Select the right colors.

Optimism, peace, wisdom, confidence, health, and creativity are all powerful emotions that can be conveyed instantly with different colors. You don’t have to stick to your brand’s logo color when designing the display. Instead, think about which colors are most closely aligned with your brand’s emotional goals. For example, red is synonymous with excitement, boldness and youthfulness, yellow is synonymous with clarity and optimism, and blue is synonymous with trust, strength and dependability. How can you strategically incorporate these colors into your display?

Set the mood with lighting.

While you can’t always escape from harsh overhead lighting at a trade show, you can use lighting strategically within your display to manage the mood and an attendee’s emotional response. For example, a spotlight on a new product creates a dramatic effect. Accent lighting adds definition and texture to products and images. The type of lighting you select for accent lights matters, too. Incandescent lighting creates feelings of warmth and nostalgia. Dim LED lights to create soft ambient lights that bring an extra layer of dimension to your entire display.

Bottom line:

Regardless of the specific emotional goal – nostalgia, excitement, inspiration, etc. – great emotional design will be visually appealing, enjoyable, memorable and personable.