When it comes to creating your trade show exhibit vision, you want to have the best of the best, right? Well, we all know that that approach can sometimes drive up the cost.

We want you to be able to build and create a vision in a way that won’t break the bank and won’t jeopardize a quality look, feel, and experience. We’ve broken down how to design your dream booth and in the most cost efficient way.  

Which is why we like to call in Studio Displays’ Design Director, John Beckman, for his words of wisdom. When it comes to designing a trade show exhibit on a budget, Beckman sticks to the basics:  – architecture, graphics, and interactive elements. He knows that to attract customers, you’ll want to focus on blending and coordinating these three key elements so you can make the customer’s experience valuable and memorable.



Let’s just say it –  the exhibit’s architecture is its power. So, be mindful of not only how it’s built, but also what you want it to achieve.

  • Show it, don’t tell it. Show your message through the architecture. The exhibit architecture should be consistent with the essence of your brand’s message; and it should be instant, too. A visitor should feel the brand’s message in a split-second on a subconscious level.
  • Make it functional. The structure should accommodate all the functional requirements of the space to facilitate the transfer of information and emotion to the visitor.
  • Frame the picture. The structure should not be the main attraction but act more like a picture frame that sets the mood and showcases the key elements on display such as graphics and products.

Now – how to create that kind of architectural power on a budget:

  • Utilize custom-modular rental systems rather than purchasing for common structural elements such as walls, towers, closets, and counters. This will offer greater flexibility from show to show and eliminate the ongoing expenses of storage, maintenance, and replacement that comes with ownership.



Graphic design sells. It matters. It makes an immediate impact. And it’s a lot easier and more accessible than you might imagine. So, when thinking about it for your trade show exhibit, err on the side of simple – and powerful.

  • Keep it simple. You only have a few seconds to win the attention of the passers-by. Keep the graphic design simple and easy to digest.  
  • Make it bold. Don’t confuse simplicity with boring. Keep it bold with high contrast to add drama and catch the eye.
  • Make it emotional. Include lifestyle images related to the benefits of your product or service. These types of images show people enjoying the benefits of your offering and are most effective at transferring the desired emotion to your target audience.

Now, how to create simple, bold, and emotional design – on a budget:

  • Keeping it simple will minimize the upfront costs of designing your graphics while extending their useful life by avoiding the need to reprint as often.  If your graphics include too many details (that mostly go unread) then the chances are that one of those details will change and render your graphics obsolete after every show. 
  • Use fabric graphics whenever possible. They are more resilient and are a fraction of the shipping size and weight compared to graphics printed on rigid substrates.  



No one knows better than us that your trade show exhibit is an experience – for you and your team AND your customers. This should be fun – engaging, exploratory, interactive. So, make that happen.

  • Make it engaging. The most successful exhibits involve some type of interactive element that allows the visitor to engage. At the very base level, this involves having knowledgeable staff on hand for meaningful conversations as well as comfortable space to facilitate such interactions. In addition, there can be participatory product demonstrations, interactive media stations, or games that inspire engagement. 
  • Make it an experience. The goal is for visitors to your exhibit to go beyond hearing or seeing your message but to make a specific emotional connection with your brand. Your visitors want to have an experience they won’t forget.
  • Make it a clear takeaway. Although prizes and clever giveaways can still be effective the best takeaway is a clear, focused message that is etched in the mind of the visitor after encountering your brand.

Now, how to do ALL THAT – on a budget:

  • Although the idea of interactive, multimedia systems are very popular, they are often not executed well and lack impact unless a substantial investment is made in the creation of digital content and its delivery.  Remember: What visitors want most is knowledgeable staff and the opportunity to interact with your products or services…things that are best achieved in a face-to-face context.  Making sure the right people are staffing your booth and having products and/or samples available for people to feel and touch can deliver more bang for the buck than even the most sophisticated touch screen kiosk.


We want to make your vision a reality beyond your expectations. And we do that in a productive, cost-effective, and quality approach – that’s just the Studio way.

Which is why we always start with clear conversations about architecture, graphic, and interactive element design and budget. Because those key elements will create an experience that will take your business and brand to the next level.

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