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After you make the decision to get a professional exhibit designer to help you with your trade show stand, the very next thing you have to do is whip up a brief.

Boy do we see a lot of briefs… Good ones and pretty poor ones.
There is one more category though – the brief we create together as a partnership (my absolute favourite).

More often than not, these briefs are filled with a long list of stand requirements that have been comprised by the company’s sales team… Things like furniture, AV and storage requirements. A list like that lacks the most important elements that we need to develop exciting ideas worthy of a “Oh, wow!” by your customers.

You want a stand that represents your brand, communicates the right message to new and existing and customers, and most of all makes a return on your investment. It’s a solid wish list of demands

To make sure custom stand designers and builders like us produce work that is consistent with your vision we have to get on the same page right from the start. Even if a client has created an incredibly detailed exhibit brief, a reverse brief should be created by your stand builder that includes more of strategic direction to help assist the design team. 

This is why I like to be involved with the briefing process. It’s never as simple as submitting a basic brief and someone whipping up creative designs without understanding your why, your brand personality and your goals for the show.

Here’s our top things to include in your exhibition brief to make sure everyone is on the same page and help people like us produce the ultimate result. 

Your Goals and Strategy for the Show

It may be tempting to just ask for a branded design that features your company colours. You might feel like your marketing strategy is for your team’s eyes only but letting your designer in on these details can really help them see the big picture and may mean that they offer more creative solutions that you haven’t considered because you’re too close to the project.

Key information to pass on is:

  • What does your company do that differentiates it in the market?
  • What does your company stand for? (Who are you? What are you known for?)
  • What’s your most significant campaign message at the show?
  • Which of your products or services are you promoting at the show?
  • Which of your key competitors attend the same show?
  • What do they do well and what do they do badly?
  • Will you be targeting a specific section of visitors or broadly appealing to many?
  • Will you have any coinciding marketing or advertising campaigns that will accompany the show?

Past Exhibiting Experience

If you have organised a trade show stand before, or a wedding, or even hosting a dinner party where you push your culinary skill set, you will know that not everything works out the way you hoped. If you have exhibited before and things didn’t work out or something worked amazingly well, let your designer know. 

If it was something that failed, maybe they have an alternative solution. If it was something that exceeded all expectations perhaps they can repeat it but freshen it up for a new show/year. The other reason to share this is because a professional exhibit supplier who specialises in strategy will even be able to provide suggestions around how to improve behaviours with design.

Key information to pass on is:

  • Have you attended this show or any others previously?
  • From your past experience of exhibiting, what worked and what didn’t?
  • What are you looking to focus more on with at future shows?


Budget 

An obvious one, but you would be surprised how many people come to us and say they don’t have one. (What utter BS this is). When we ask, it’s not to pry or judge or even to figure out how to spend all your budget, but because the type of stand you end up with will depend largely on your exhibition budget. A good stand designer will use their experience to get you the best bang for your buck, but they need a starting point. 

If you’re still not convinced…

You’ll have to agree that there’s a massive difference between a $20k stand and a $120k design! 


It’s true that we can sometimes suggest options and alternative ways to get a similar look using different finishes, but if we don’t have a rough idea of what you have to work with it just wastes time and money because it ultimately results in a project that will never see the eyes of attendees.

Just be honest and upfront about this. There’s zero judgement!

Key information to pass on is:

  • Beyond this event, are there any other shows you will attend?
  • How do they differ from each other? (Size, configurations, audience, message)
  • Do you budget per event or per year? 
  • What does your budget need to cover? (Unless you are getting our help for other areas, we are mostly interested in construction and installation budgets, the rest is your domain dude/dudette)
  • How often do you expect to change your stand’s design?
  • Do you take the same message/theme to all shows? If not how does it differ? (Many think this is a problem. It’s not. We just need to know about it ahead of time before we start designing and building)

Show Specifics & On Stand Activity 

This is where you can get into the nitty gritty of the show details and the more practical side notes about the location and space of your stand. They should be advising you on how to make the most of the space and use it to guide the visitor through an intuitive path of discovery. It’s as much about knowing what space to leave as it is about filling it up.

Key information to pass on is:

  • Why have you chosen this show?
  • Is the show B2B, B2C or both?
  • Location and space of the stand
  • Dates, timings for deadlines and for delivery and set-up on the day
  • What’s the audience profile of the show?
  • Are they known visitors or new to you?
  • What activities will you engage in on the stand at this show?
  • Are there any specific considerations required to facilitate these activities? E.g. do you need a hospitality section with sofas or a self-contained meeting room? 

With any stand specifics you have, be open to talking through your reason for wanting them with your stand builder. We are creatives who are here to help you maximise the use of your space. If we know your goal and understand why you particularly want certain things, we might be able to provide suggestions for achieving your goal in a more effective way. 

Objectives & Desired Outcomes

This is where you can get really specific. By this I mean, put an actual figure next to it. If you don’t have previous shows to benchmark, don’t worry. It’s about having something to collectively aim for. Sometimes a guesstimate is all you need! (Eg, we will get 150 email addresses for qualified leads at this show).

Then we can figure out the priority of each of your exhibition objectives and give a weight to each, e.g. create new sales opportunities – 50%, up-sell to current customers – 30%, increase brand awareness – 20%

Key information to pass on:

  • What’s your desired outcome from the show?
  • How will you measure the success of the show?

I’ve tried to break down your brief into different categories so you can also see what areas you may need to do more work in. There is no right or wrong when it comes to creating an exhibition brief, but you do want to include the essence of who you are and why you are going to these events. The more we understand your culture and your brand personality, the more likely we are to make suggestions that reflect this in an exhibit design. 

If you have a show on the horizon and are thinking about calling in professionals to help with your design and installation, feel free to book in a 15min intro call with me. (No obligation).

Yours in Exhibiting, 

Jess