Trade Show Banner Design Rules, Facts and Questions

Trade Shows

Trade shows can be a very important way to get new business and help get your name out in the world. Companies who discount the effectiveness of going to a trade show are often those same companies that aren’t going to try very hard or just didn’t understand the best ways to get business at these venues. Trade shows have a lot of rules that are both unwritten and written when it comes to how you should attract customers with your set-up, including banner usage. Here are some of the design rules, facts and questions that are common when heading to one of these events.

Photoshow Exhibition,Rome 2012

Designing the Sign

The first thing you should do is decide what your goals are with going to the trade show.

  • Find new leads
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Launch a new product

Because there are different objectives, you need to be sure that you design your banner around the goals you set. For instance, if you are looking to launch a new product and make customers aware of that, you should probably feature a big graphic on the banner showing that product. This should help you to know where to start though.

Banner Rules

There are some rules in establishing your tradeshow presence. When it comes to how big each sign can be, that is going to be different depending on the show. However, when it comes to what is best for your sign, there are certain guidelines you should consider.

  1. One of the unwritten rules applies to most signs in general, but at a trade show it is especially important. This rule is that you should limit the amount of words you put on the sign. The more words there are; the less people are going to read. You have about six seconds to catch someone’s attention and it won’t be caught with a lengthy paragraph. Remember that less is more.
  2. Rather than depending on words to relay your message, try using a large visual image. If you have a bigger graphic, it is going to be much more attractive to the quick passing eye. Even better: If you have the right image, your message will be much clearer to the people who pass by.
  3. The colors you should use on your banner and sign should be either your company colors or the product colors that you are trying to feature.
  4. Try to think outside of the box. Take into account the most recent trends, but keep in mind that others are going to be trying to follow them as well. The more unique and original you can be, the better you will stand out. However, keep it reigned in enough that people don’t walk away not knowing what your company does. A great tool to look at can be billboards, because they only have a brief few seconds to catch people’s attention as well.


Some of the best ideas are clever, but simple. Try to think of your favorite advertisements and what they did to catch your attention.

  1. Try not to keep reusing the sign with each additional year of trade shows. Realize that if your set up looks outdated, your company will be perceived as not being very innovative. Repeat show visitors are going to realize that you aren’t changing things up, thus symbolizing not moving with the times.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the important things to consider with a banner?

The images and message conveyed on the banners is always going to be important, but it will often come down to the bottom line; which is your budget. Remember that going to trade shows will help you generate income, so the expenses should be more than covered if you do things right. Also, be sure the exhibit and/or signage can grab someone’s attention from a good distance away, rather than only when someone is standing right in front of it.

Are there any “do not” rules to consider?

Generally speaking, there should be no offensive images or language. Not only is it unprofessional, but it will drive many potential customers away. Also, try not to place anything important on the bottom third of a poster if it is going to the floor. This area is generally obscured by displays, chairs for staff or even people standing at your booth.

How much time in advance do you plan the banner?

While there is no set time that you should be working on the banner before you purchase it, you should be aware of the time it will take a company to print the work. Have it printed and ordered well before, in case you need to allow for any delays that might happen. You should start the design concept with enough time to make any changes that you may want to make. Having time to really think about it will allow you to make changes as they come across your mind.

Important – Please click here to review our Art Requirements regarding Inappropriate Artwork.