Everyday we are influenced by design.

There are so many things that impact our behaviour by appealing to our subconscious minds.

When I stop to actually think about it I can’t help but feel like some kind of puppet.

It’s crazy to realise they impact WHAT we do, THINK and FEEL.

… The barriers at airport check-in counters are designed to keep travelers in orderly lines.

… Supermarkets spread the most sought-after products through the store to force us to trek the aisles and increase the likelihood we buy more junk.

… Walking tracks in parks dictate where we should walk. (Seriously, whats wrong with stomping through the lush grass?)

We do so much without thinking!

I’m not even talking about signage or advertisements screaming at us to buy stuff.

It’s far more subtle and discreet.

… Like an airy rack of clothes in a designer shop, grouped by colour palette, enticing us to touch and explore the range of the whole store. 

Most companies go to an exhibition with the objective of having quality face-to-face interaction.

They want to build relationships and let customers meet the real people behind the brand.

This sounds great, but sadly some of the designs employed at these trade shows often say otherwise to a visitor.

There’s an art to orchestrating the perfect mix of product so it doesn’t overwhelm people…

Just as there’s a knack to HOW staff interact in the space… It plays a massive role in how likely they are to engage visitors as they walk the aisles.

How You Can Influence Behaviour With Design

When we think exhibit strategy, many people are thinking about the overall message.

There are so many basic elements that get forgotten, or overlooked.

Here are a few pointers to encourage some strategic thinking around basic elements you’ll find on any exhibition stand. 


I’ve always maintained that focused lighting is best.

This is huge in Europe. You’ll even see it in many shop fit outs.

Use it to draw attention to areas of interest by creating contrasting light and shade. Light up your product areas so they are the stars of the show.

Stay away from big thumping flood lights that blast your entire stand. If you overdo it your staff will end up getting headaches and you’ll find people just don’t want to spend to much time on your exhibit because they feel on show and a tad uneasy.

I’m not saying you can’t light from your rig. We do this regularly. Just remember the aim is to make people feel comfortable so don’t go overboard. Bigger isn’t always better.

Go back to your aim… Is it to make them feel comfortable to talk with salespeople or do you just want them to see the brand and move on without hanging around to interact with it? (There’s no right or wrong, just what’s right for you.)

And don’t forget the golden rule of lighting… Never, ever, ever have lights shining into the aisles and into the eyes of your visitors. Pretty self-explanatory.

Product Display

Lining product along the aisles doesn’t get people interested as they walk by.

This technique for displaying product creates a ‘castle wall’ effect.

You’re effectively blocking visitors from entering the stand, no matter how interesting your product is.

There’s a good chance you’ll find them peering in and only slowing down long enough to focus on what you’re offering before walking off again.

For a truly engaging experience you want them to walk comfortably onto your exhibition stand so you can have a human conversation with them

If you touch something you’re 33% more likely to buy it.

Staff Standing Positions

Well done if your product is off the edge of your stand…

But are you potentially creating a FORCE FIELD EFFECT by physically standing in each of the gaps of your furniture?

It pays to think about where your staff stand to welcome people. There’s a bit of psychology that goes into this!

Staff must be mindful of keeping the flow open to visitors.

You want to allow enough room for them with bags/friends/personal space. Unless they really want to see something they won’t squeeze themselves past anyone.

Consider some staff training to around how you could improve interactions at the show. Too many dismiss this as a lame exercise but it can make an enormous difference to the success of your show.


Colour Scheme

Use focal points that draw your visitors eyes in, maybe even lure them onto a particular part of your stand?

Whether this is done with colour, shapes or even text, ask yourself what you want them to know/see before you begin any design work.

Colour is great for separating areas or guiding visitors. Be cautious not to use too many colours though as this can overwhelm your visitors and just give them something to look at from the outside (like a museum piece).

If you’re going to use carpet tiles it’s worthwhile contacting the venue to see what colour the aisles will be. There’s nothing more depressing than seeing someone go to the effort of laying a raised floor then covering it with carpet tiles the same colour as the aisle way. You want to delineate your space and for it to stand out!

The ONE Think You Must Do Before Your Next Exhibition

Sometimes when you’re really close to a project your judgement can get clouded.

It’s easy to forget the way a newbie might interpret your brand or product.

Look back at your past exhibits as if you’re a modern attendee breezing through a show…

… Do you notice anything you would change about your layout?

… Would you walk up and say “hi”? are their any barriers to entry?

For your next trade show, what is the key behviour you want from people?

This is the ONE thing you need to think about before you commence any kind of design work…

Rather then thinking about visitors becoming leads (Definitely something you still want) … What is it you actually want them to DO?

… See a demo/play with a product

… Understand your key point of difference

… Maybe your goal is to only speak to 3 C-Level exec’s and you want to make them feel really valued

What would you have to do to your design to encourage this behaviour? Or evoke this feeling?

How can you tweak your existing design to encourage these behaviours? Or what should you include in your new design so they do this thing?

If you would like to find out how we might be able to help you create a design that encourages the right behaviours, get in touch for a clarity call today.

Yours in Exhibiting,

Jessica Turnbull
Tradeshow Strategist
0417 468 487