When a Color is Not just a Color

Everyone knows that the colours involved in a marketing campaign are of immense importance. Imagine a Coca-Cola or Marlboro ad that lacked the colour red! Sometimes, however, it’s not only the COLOUR that matters, it’s the exact shade or hue that a company depends on for a consistent campaign.

If your company uses a special “blue” that separates itself from the menagerie of garden variety “blues” in the marketplace, then this can present an immense challenge when working through a sophisticated marketing campaign. While this isn’t news for companies that are seasoned in working with their branding properties, it can become a major obstacle for newly unveiled marketing initiatives. There’s a simple solution which might not get mentioned by your ad company – but it matters for your exhibit company!

When asking for images for an exhibit’s graphics, most exhibitors will provide CMYK information for their branding content. For an exhibitor that needs an specific colour matched, we will ask for a Pantone colour. A specific colour, taken from a uniform wheel of colours, allows us to match the colour regardless of print substrate. Whether your graphics are being printed onto fabric, white laminate panels, or sintra, colours will match regardless of medium. Keep in mind that the same colour on my monitor might not match that colour on your monitor – digital graphics can be the most subjective of colour.

Other factors to consider are the age of your properties – colour fades over time, not just when exposed to UV rays. Gradients that work well in computer generated images often produce different effects when printed on a physical substrate. The important thing is having an open discussion with the graphics department of your exhibitor. The project management aspect for ensuring a marketing message’s success is an indispensable aspect of the exhibit production process.

How important are the colours of your exhibit? A marketing director told me a story about a study indicating a strong correlation between lab subjects “seeing the colour red,” and having a strong desire to smoke a cigarette. Marlboro has done it’s job – it seems their marketing has been addictive as their product! Corporate colours are often just as important as the words and images that delineate a company’s message.

Booth Design First, Marketing Strategy Second… And WHY?

In an industry like any other, where every vendor proclaims to be “thinking outside of the box” and other jaded “-isms,” I have a complaint: Why does the procurement process always evolve around which furniture and styles should go into an exhibit display?

Not only do most interactions between exhibit houses and exhibitorsstart with furniture arrangements-they proceed to price and logistics. This is when my blood pressure rises and I start to mutter incoherently to myself… Why is our industry so fixated on this mode of doing business?

Can we agree that the reason exhibitors spend tens, hundreds, or millions on their exhibit programs is for the purpose of marketing andselling? Can we agree that it is not because they are trying to sell furniture, and it is not because they are overly fascinated by warehousing and commercial freight details? I’m going to go out on a limb that the boardrooms that approve marketing budgets do so on an understanding that it will increase their brand’s, product’s, or service’s exposure, and otherwise increase sales opportunities. Why do we start off the discussion by discussing the widgets we think ought to be crammed together in your booth?

I endeavor, on every exhibitor conversation, to hit the ‘reset’ button, and orient the conversation around goals of the exhibit program. In other words, why were you given all of this company money? What is that money intended to provide for the company, and tell me what unique situations your company finds themselves faced with?

Product launch? Recent merger or acquisition? Defending brand or product against new competitor, or competitor’s new product? “Jaded” perception within industry? Business sector’s financial instability sewing doubt into prospective and existing clients’ minds? These are all common threads that we hear from exhibitors who need a new approach to their exhibit.

While I heap generous blame to the “cabinet makers” mindset amongst competing exhibit houses, a certain amount of criticism is owed to exhibitors. The approach that gains the most straightforward response from your vendors may not be the best approach for your exhibit program. What are some ideas for how trade show coordinators can improve their exhibit program from first contact, all the way through project completion? We’re eager to hear your comments on the subject – let us know what you think.