4 min read (part 1 of 4) 

With the welcome return of live exhibitions, and with one of the engineering industry’s most important exhibitions (Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2022) just 3 months away, now seems a perfect opportunity to look at what you might need to consider when planning for an exhibition.

Over the course of the next four weeks, we’re going to look at the 4 key ingredients to a successful trade show:

  • Design and Build of your stand

  • Video and Photography for your stand

  • Communication to your audience before, during and after the show

  • Tangible items for your stand that will make you memorable

1 of 4

Design and Build of your Exhibition Stand

The physical attributes of your stand are determined by the space you have booked. If you have chosen a space within a pre-built shell scheme, then you are limited by walls and need to be creative with your graphic panels, pop-up banners and display cabinets.

If you have chosen space only, then the opportunities to create something memorable are really only limited by your budget.

Exhibition design


With all of your graphics, you need to consider your key messages that you want visitors to take away with them. You will only have a very limited time to make a first impression, so you need to make sure your graphics are bold and clear.

Very few visitors will read lists of bullet points on a banner, but an image of your product or an associated image of the industry you operate in is more likely to make them pause long enough for you to approach them and open a discussion.


Don’t try and present every single product you make, or every service you offer, because you don’t have the time or the space. Put yourself in the minds of your customer and think what would attract you about your business enough to make you stop and look again – then apply that logic to your graphics. Most often your content should be about how you can solve your customer’s problems, or a particular benefit your product or service offers.


The other aspect to the design of your stand is space – and how you utilise it. There is a fine balance between having too much ‘stuff’ on your stand making it look cluttered and untidy, and not using the space efficiently. If you have booked a 3mx3m shell scheme space, there will be room for a small table and a couple of chairs, a display cabinet for your product, a storage cabinet at the back of your stand and a stand/bar table for your video screen and that’s about it! By the time you have added 2 or 3 of your staff your space will be full!

Remember the golden rule at Shows is to offer just enough incentive to visitors that they stop to talk to you, so making your stand look like an impregnable fortress just isn’t going to do it.

AGI Stand @ DSEI 4



Branding is a key design factor so you need to make sure you are instantly recognisable through the use of your logo and your company colours. On a shell-scheme stand, there will be limited areas to use your logo (most likely on your graphics and on the front of any cabinets), so take the opportunities you have to ‘logo-up’. With a bespoke stand build, you can have the converse situation of too many areas and an overkill of branding, so don’t get too carried away – sometimes less is more!


Again, this will depend on the size and complexity of your stand. For a space-only bespoke construction, your stand designer should take on this task with minimal involvement from yourself.

Where you will need to get involved is when it comes to the stand dressing – making sure the final finishing touches are applied that are so important to how the stand looks. We strongly recommend you don’t leave it entirely to your stand designer, and just turn up on the morning of the Show expecting everything to be perfect… That is unless you employ someone to specifically project-manage your stand, in which case their job is to ensure you can do just that!

For a shell-scheme stand, set-up is invariably quicker and will usually involve the application of graphics to the fixed walls, the installation of cabinets and the positioning of TV monitors etc. Graphics applied to walls can be fiddly, as oppose to just using a pop-up style exhibition banner, however the latter take up space that you may not have. Our recommendation – get a 3D render done of your stand at the start of the planning process so you have a visual representation of what the stand will look like, and then, if you can, mock up your stand in your offices a few days before to make sure you know exactly what you are doing on arrival.


How your stand looks can literally be the difference between success and failure of a trade show, so it is vital you take some time to think about what impression you want to create with visitors. Putting the effort in now can mean you have enough space on the stand to welcome visitors, and the right content to make that all important first impression.


In the next blog in this series we will look at how you can use video and photography to enhance your stand.

If you’d like to discuss your trade show requirements, particularly in advance of Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2022, please contact Simon on simon@thecollectivegroup.co.uk or tel: 01202 682322.