Design to build: the A to Z of exhibition stand planning Expert Opinion

What exactly do you need to consider when planning your next exhibition stand design and build? Stephen Lindsay of exhibition stand designer DMN Design Build has put together a handy A-Z of what you need to be thinking about before, during and after your exhibition.


A is for Artwork.

The foundation of every great exhibition stand is the concept and the artwork that brings it to life. So make sure any artwork for the project tells the story you want and makes you as excited as you want others to find your stand.


B is for Build.

The build of your stand is key to its success. Your stand delivers the foundation of your experience. So you need to ensure the materials, quality, finish and team behind the build are all precisely right.


C is for Concept.

Your stand needs to be built around a central idea that tells your story. What a concept does is allow you to tie every element of your stand and supporting campaign together around a unified theme.


D is for Data.

Using data to its potential can transform how your stand looks and works for the better. With data, you can build a comprehensive picture of how people will interact with your stand at every stage. You can even use this data to build better lead capture tools and systems.


E is for Engagement.

For your stand to work your concept’s experience must engage your audience. Tools and techniques like VR, experiential, multi-sensory and more can help grab audience attention and draw them in. Helping you build social buzz and recall around your brand.


F is for Flow.

How people move around and experience an exhibition is critical. By understanding how people move around the show, your design can take full advantage of this journey at the right time.


G is for Goals.

No matter the show, concept or plan you must have goals. Goals will differ, but setting targets to score the success of your stand against is essential. The most common goals for exhibitions are sales or brand awareness, but it is down to the needs of your company.


H is for Honesty.

Many companies at exhibitions fall foul of making false, exaggerated claims to try and draw in audiences. Audiences want engaging stands and then will want to understand the brand behind them and want to know the brand is a brand they can believe in.


I is for Interactive.

Interactivity helps drive your stands engagement by giving audiences a reason to engage. How interactive your stand is can be the difference between success and failure.


J is for Journey.

How your audience experiences your stand is key to engagement and recall. Stands today now plan routes (or journeys) through them, that let you tell your brand’s story as fully as possible.


K is for Knowledge.

Knowing your product or service inside and out is essential at exhibitions. Staff on stands need to be able to answer any question or have the right information to hand immediately.


L is for Lead Capture.

Ultimately, your goal is to grow your business. Many companies are using techniques like interactivity as a way get this information by creating games where people give their contact details to receive prizes or pictures and so on.


M is for Multi-Sensory.

Modern stands are moving beyond the visual and targeting as many senses as possible, because the more senses you can engage with the better. These deeper sense engagements are the ones that help you complete your experience in the memories of your audience.


N is for Not Sales.

More sales is your goal, but direct selling can be off-putting to modern audiences. Exhibitions today tend to take a much softer approach to sales, giving audiences time to experience the concept and understand the messaging, with many leaving the sales element until after the show itself entirely.


O is for Organisation.

Building an exhibition stand and planning a successful show takes a considerable amount of planning and organisation. To achieve this organisation and communication are key. Speak to your suppliers regularly, as they understand the logistics or what is required and can help.


P is for Personalisation.

There is a growing demand for personalisation within exhibition experiences. With the right technology and planning stands can react differently to different people, helping build personal experiences on the journey through your stand.


Q is for Quality.

The quality of your stand and the experience matters. Keep in mind that on the day of the event your stand will be in direct competition with your competitors. Due to this how your stand feels and works will matter, and as such so will the quality and finish of the build and the concept.


R is for Recall.

Your exhibition stand is an opportunity to put your brand in front of an audience and make them remember it. Literature and handouts can work, but people remember experiences (especially new ones) forever.


S is for Story.

Story means a focus on cohesive messaging across a stand. Everything on your stand should have a purpose, and those purposes should be working together. If you can also add a linear story like structure to the messaging and the journey that will only add to the experience.


T is for Technology.

Technology can impact almost every element of your stand from lighting through to lead capture. Technology can help you build more immersive experiences, create innovative interactive engagements and more, but always ensure that it fits with your stand and your brand’s concept and goals.


U is for Understanding.

Understanding every stage of the process from the start helps reduce costs and delivery times while helping you build a successful show. Before any exhibition build, you need to consider everything from build costs and audience segments to venue restrictions and special requirements.


V is for Venue.

Waiting until you are onsite to find out about your venue is a recipe for disaster. Once you have booked your plot, speak to the organisers to find out about the site and the show. You will then need to communicate this to your stand builders and other suppliers to ensure all elements of the design can work within these guidelines.


W is for Where.

Prime locations at exhibitions get the most attention but also come with a bigger price tag from the organisers. However, with the right design and strategy, any stand and plot can work. So before you spend big for a prime location speak to your suppliers and designers to find out the plan and check your options.


X is for X-Factor.

Some stands work for very unexpected reasons, even when they go against all the industry knowledge and expectations. These stands and design are usually taking a calculated risk with the understanding that this might not work, but if it does the success of your show can be more significant.


Y is for You.

No matter the stand, experience or story at the centre of it all must be you and your brand. Successful stands work because of the brand not without it. These stands are remembered and so are the brands that delivered them.


Z is for Zeitgeist.

If you can, and it fits with your brand, capture the moment. Use current events, trends and culture as inspiration and capitalise on anything that could work for your concept. If the world is going crazy for something that you can harness around your message then use it.


Author Bio

Stephen Lindsay has been in the exhibition industry for over 40 years, starting on the shop floor and working his way up to Production Manager. He joined DMN Design Build in 2004 as Projects Director. He specialises in experiential marketing, exhibition stand design, exhibition services in London and much more. His responsibilities are to oversee the smooth transition of all projects from sales into production.

Stuart Wood