Using Custom Fabrication to Elevate a Brand

You could say we had our hands full at the 2019 U.S. Travel Association’s IPW, supporting three clients with custom exhibit experiences. (Check out our last blog post about how our design and craftsmanship capabilities helped Great Outdoors USA’s booth make a great first impression.)

One of our newest clients, New Jersey Division of Travel & Tourism, was looking to make a big impact by unveiling a fresh, new look for its upcoming trade shows. Like every new partnership, we spent a lot of time brainstorming, collaborating, and really getting to know them before jumping into design. Creating a memorable experience that will inspire visitors takes time and creativity.

New Jersey's Trade Show Booth Entryway

To begin, we assessed the existing booth and pinpointed our client’s objectives. Together, we identified the following opportunities for the new design:

  • Cohesive Branding:We’ll incorporate cohesive branding to offer an engaging experience that makes visitors want to stay and interact within the booth. What’s more, the booth design will align with New Jersey’s overall online and print materials to present a unified brand.
  • Eye-Catching Elements: We’ll add new elements that stand out on the busy trade show floor, to attract show attendees from far away. By attracting trade show attendees, we’ll generate awareness of the diverse vacation and entertainment options in the state.
  • Unified Partner Presence: We’ll visually connect the spaces for New Jersey’s partners—destination marketing organizations (DMOs)—to present a highly visible, unified space, while still showcasing each individual destination.
  • Increased DMO Engagement: We’ll include separate meeting spaces for each DMO in the overall design. Plus, we’ll better organize the DMO appointment process and increase their attendance/involvement in meetings.

Then, we got to work designing, fabricating, and installing the new exhibit. Here are a few things we keep in mind when creating exhibit spaces (that you might find helpful, too!):

Gather Some Intel

We conducted a survey of decision-makers to learn that New Jersey wanted something contemporary, bold, confident, and innovative. Then we asked ourselves, “How can we use different custom design elements in the exhibit space to incorporate these ideas and enhance their brand?”

Our design team took inspiration from the client’s logo, which features a green mountain and a blue wave, to bring texture and dimension into the booth design. The texture is contemporary, the royal blue color and lighting are bold and confident, and the lighting adds a touch of innovation. (More on the power of lighting next!)

A detailed view of New Jersey Tourism's booth

It’s important to find out not only what drives your client, but how they see themselves and what makes them who they are. The survey helped draw out some helpful details that hadn’t come up in our conversation, enabling us to get a better understanding of their brand and goals for the booth while setting the foundation for a strong partnership.

Incorporate Lighting into Your Exhibit Design

Adding lighting to your exhibit space offers a bold and confident vibe. We used LED lighting to draw attention, with internally lit letters that served as a focal point. The addition of dramatic lighting in the space served as a beacon across the busy exhibitors’ hall and attracted show attendees.

Detailed view of dimensional lightbox letters

Consider adding lighting to your booth to create a memorable experience and attract visitors. (But we’re not talking about those old-school clip-on lights!) Innovative lighting, like LED strips that provide a soft glow or accent lighting that can help define and add texture to products, can be that extra element that takes your exhibit to the next level. You can convey a different message or aesthetic depending on the lighting style and how it interacts with other elements in the space.

Get Creative in Presenting a Strong Brand

The new booth got a lot of buzz among exhibitors with a bright, unique, and attention-grabbing design that encouraged passersby to take notice… and then linger for a bit.

New Jersey saw a 100% increase in meetings over the previous year’s IPW, which generated more quality leads than ever before! New Jersey’s tourism representative, Michael Styles, stated in reference to the increased visitor engagement: “We had far more engagement from attendees, including folks who didn’t come for an appointment. People were actively coming by to take photos. We’ve never had that before.”

So why did this booth attract so much more attention? We like to think it starts at the beginning of the process, when we set the goal to present a strong brand with a point of view—one that unifies the partners and sells an overall “New Jersey” road trip that can encompass many types of experiences.

Then, to bring this brand to life, we started designing. First, we used a high-impact backdrop to anchor and connect the 40’ long space. Using a bright white color provided a clean, contemporary canvas, and the repetition of custom-fabricated, dimensional, wavy lines in white helped to create a continuous, flowing backdrop that connected the regional locations. Plus, it’s reminiscent of the logomark—the “NJ” mountain and wave—which also helped unify the New Jersey brand across all channels.

The team at New Jersey conducts meetings within their booth space

The process of designing, fabricating, and installing a custom exhibit space should not be taken lightly—it’s a big job! Creating a memorable experience for booth visitors takes strategic thinking and creativity.

The New Jersey Division of Travel & Tourism is ready to hit the road with their new, bold trade show experience and is sure to attract attention wherever they go. They’re also seeing significant cost savings by using the engaging 50’x30’ modular booth annually at IPW and smaller modular configurations (10’x10’ and others) at several national trade shows per year.

Read more about our work with New Jersey here.


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Novak Birch

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