Three weeks. 504 hours. 30,240 minutes.
That may not seem like a lot of time, but when it comes to designing a trade show booth, the clock always seem to be ticking faster than usual. After all, time flies when you’re having fun, right?
Putting together an incredible, memorable exhibit in this short amount of time is possible, however, as long as you follow a well-structured exhibit design process. Whether you work with us or another vendor (we won’t be that offended…), these are the steps it takes to ensure the deadline is hit every single time.
Step 1: Set a Hard Deadline
This is an obvious first step, but keep in mind that a deadline is meant for both the design team and the client. Resources from the client, must-haves, logistics — each needs to be provided by the client on time.
When setting a concrete deadline, make sure you get it on paper and get everyone to agree. Then, you can work backwards to create a roadmap to get there.
Step 2: Start with the End in Mind
Before diving into the booth design, we make sure to discuss the ultimate goal of the trade show presence with the client. We think about:
- How should the brand be presented?
- How should attendees feel after they move on from the exhibit?
By working closely with the client to pinpoint the desired outcome, the form and shape of the booth will start to come into focus.
Step 3: Deep Dive into the Brand
The brand is the DNA of a company. In order to effectively tell a story about a company through a booth design, it’s important to fully understand how that company talks about itself.
More importantly, it’s good to know how your customers and prospects feel about you. If you were to ask them to describe your brand in three words, what would those words be?
Step 4: Find the Big Idea
Every successful trade show booth starts out with a Big Idea. A design or a message — or both — that makes a brand stand out on a crowded show floor. We work with our clients to come up with that Big Idea and build from there.
Step 5: Get to Work
Once deadlines are set and the Big Idea is agreed upon, it’s time to start on design. Throughout the process, we make sure there is constant contact with our client, getting sign-off on designs as they happen to keep everything moving forward. Keep in mind that changes in renders can happen, changes during production cannot.
The Steelhead Method
Over the years, we’ve developed a proven design process. The actual timeline of this process is flexible, but it’s always constructed around multiple, hard deadlines.
In general, this process has a set of milestones:
- Design input with client
- Big Idea focus
- Feedback gathering
- Design revision
- Final approval
While every client’s needs — and every trade show — are different, we’ve found that by following this basic framework we are able to make the design process move smoothly and efficiently.
Not all projects will need to be completed in just 21 days, of course, but by having a well-structured design process in place, we can go from first contact to final product in that time.
For more information on designing trade show booths, check out our free resource: The Exhibitor’s Guide To Trade Show Success In 2020.