It Isn't Just Me
February 03, 2020
There I was, pondering what topic should be addressed in this week’s Blog when for inspiration I turned to Exhibitor Magazine. Specifically, the issue I browsed contained their “Find It Marketplace.” This segment provided me the opportunity to skim through a compilation of most vendors serving the trade show exhibit market. I was met with, and depressed by, the Sea of Sameness!
I jumped to the magazine’s editorial page where, as usual, Travis Stanton provided astute commentary. It seems he and the editorial board had been conducting research across the spectrum of exhibit producers and turned up a similar Sea of Sameness (my words, not his).
If there is one thing to take away from this blog post it is the reminder that the number one job of a trade show exhibit is to get you noticed on the show floor! Whatever your exhibiting goals include, nothing happens until you get seen.
So, why is there a feeling that designs started to look so similar and often fail to stand out? Here are five things that come to my mind:
- Budget Constraints – Mr. Stanton, Exhibitor’s editor, points out that on average island exhibits pricing out at $165/sq. ft. The 2019 Exhibit Design Award winning islands, presumably worthy of notice, priced out at $168/sq. ft. I think it is not that great design needs to cost so much; rather, clients afraid of shooting the budget are failing to push their exhibit houses, and some designers and industry reps are holding back on pushing stand-out design in fear of scaring off clients.
- Internet intrusion on the lower end of the display industry is both pervasive and dampening expectations of what is needed and what is possible.
- A significant amount of high-end display impact is coming from high-priced technology utilized in exhibit booths. That fear of being able to “keep up with the Jones,” keeps client and designer focus on essentials rather than bells and whistles.
- Brand, Brand, Brand…Bland, Bland, Bland! For several years the push to be on-brand has worked against graphic designs that are off-brand, outside of guidelines and ultimately basic and not stimulating.
- Designers playing in different sandboxes. At one point in our industry’s history, there were very distinct differences between distributor/resellers of modular products and producers of custom exhibits. Today most custom houses rely on revenue from selling systems and many (formerly) modular system distributors are fully engaged in custom and/or custom modular solutions. It’s tougher for custom designers to get WOW!!!! when sometimes WOW!!!! in a 10x10 is more about graphics than structure and conversely, a big impact graphic can sometimes loose its “oomph” when splashed all over an island.
Big booth or small, job #1 is to get noticed. It’s easier to be seen as being outstanding if first you stand out.