Reasons to Attend Trade Shows: Brand Development
This article, on Brand Development Ideas, is Part II of a three part series developed to help companies improve their results from attending trade shows.
Your brand identity is extremely important. All too often the brand identity for a company develops without due thought. Trade shows offer an extremely good opportunity to develop your branding, and acquire more customers.
Developing Your Brand at Trade Shows
Trade shows revolve around a trio of marketing goals:
Generating leads has been covered, so that leads us to the second goal encapsulated within the marketing triad: increasing brand awareness. But what exactly is brand awareness?
In a nutshell, branding means that a potential buyer links a particular brand identity with a specific product group. For example, as you shopped for, say, orange juice, chances are good that you did not select an obscure brand of juice. No, you very likely purchased a brand that is well-known within the fruit juice sector.
It is commonly accepted that brand awareness consists of the following three elements:
- Customer recognition of the brand
- Associating the brand with the product category
- Differentiation among competing brands
Now, going back to the orange juice, you knew and recognized the brand of orange juice that you eventually purchased. You associated that brand with the orange juice market, and knew the difference between your preferred choice and the other brands in the orange juice section. As such, your choice fulfilled the three elements of brand awareness.
Consciously or subconsciously, your chosen brand of orange juice meant something to you. Was it the recognizable name or colors of the container? Was it the reputation of the brand as being consistently good? Was it because you grew up drinking that specific brand of orange juice, thereby putting it at the top of your mind?
Was it because you have always found the product superior to the other brands, or because you were buying into its promise of good-for-you wholesomeness? In short, was it a brand you have trusted and been satisfied with?
You will probably look at orange juice in a new light now, and there is nothing wrong with that, because the same principle in relation to branding applies to your product or services. That is why building brand awareness at trade shows is vital to your business.
Consider this: Your brand is your most important communication medium! It sends a powerful message to potential buyers.
Trade shows give you opportunities to integrate brand awareness into your exhibits. You should approach brand awareness as a dynamic and valuable extension of the company’s public relation, promotion, advertising and, indeed, sales impetus.
The ways in which you present your exhibit at trade shows can powerfully impact brand awareness. Bear the following points in mind when planning your exhibit — they will affect how people perceive your brand:
How Booth Graphics Impact Branding
Your booth graphics should pack a potent punch. To use a boxing analogy: think Ali rather than Spinks! Great — that got your attention.
In delivering the knockout blow with your trade show display graphics, can you answer ‘yes’ to all the following questions?
- Are the visuals bold and striking — will they grab visitors’ attention?
- Are the logos, colors, display tag lines and font styles consistent, thus strengthening the visual identifiers?
- Are your brand identity graphics uniquely shaped or sized?
- Will the brand be immediately memorable, and will it be easily recognizable going forward?
- Does it convey a forceful, clear and compelling message? Does it declare who you are and what you do?
- Will potential buyers know in an instant what your brand offers/promises?
Those are critical criteria, and vital to properly positioning your company in the minds of your customers. Score 10 out of 10 if you answered ‘yes’ to all the questions raised.
How Booth Size Impacts Results
The size of your booth matters. A large booth creates an enormous impact and leaves an indelible impression in the minds of attendees. Additionally, large booths stand out in a sea of exhibits.
A large, well-staffed area allows you to engage with more people on a per-hour basis. It also mitigates against walk-offs. Booth attendees will simply walk away if there are not sufficient staff members to greet them.
Whenever possible, enclose your products within your booth space. Large products such as vehicles and machinery will create a visual interest and showcase unique product identifiers such as colors or designs.
How Booth Location Affects Visibility
Where will you locate your booth? Location has a direct impact on brand visibility. Be aware:
- A booth that occupies the complete end of a row is guaranteed an almost 320 degree exposure to floor traffic.
- A large booth that is located against the wall of an exhibit hall provides approximately 150 degree exposure to attendees.
- When you design your booth for a custom fit of your designated space, you can make the booth equally appealing from every angle, thus maximizing brand visibility.
- An island exhibit commands a four-sided view, and allows for the most comprehensive brand visibility.
Even if your booth is not located in a prime location, a good rule of thumb is to always design for the side that will receive the most foot traffic. To maximize your potential gains your marketing department should engage the services of a custom trade show display manufacturer. For price sensitive customers who want a more dynamic presence, many custom manufacturers offer pre-owned displays at discounted prices. Another option to get a commanding presence, without breaking the bank, is to consider trade show rental displays.
Work the Show – Not Just Your Booth!
Building brand awareness means not confining your brand to your booth space. Let it be seen beyond the booth. Why not have brand ambassadors walk around the venue to stoke interest, network and meet prospective buyers.
The ambassadors can wear branded shirts, hand out branded “gimme items” and steer visitors to the company’s booth.
Mind your Ps and Qs
First impressions really do count. As such, it is important for staff to always put their and the company’s best face forward when attending a trade show. Negative actions will adversely impact brand identity and your company’s reputation.
Within the fish bowl environment of a trade show and its immediate vicinity, behaviors and actions are amplified. To lessen the chances of negative perceptions, do not wear branded attire outside of the trade show venue. As the saying goes: it is better to be safe than sorry! Good behavior speaks volumes, but bad behavior is costly in terms of brand awareness.
Ultimately, branding is a business and marketing process. Make sure your company is easily recognizable/identifiable and just as easy to recall. Your brand is also a compact between your company and your customers. It is based on value, trust and dependability, and it extends far beyond the confines of a trade show.
Keep your branding clear, consistent and focused — and ensure that the promises implicit in your brand can be met at all times.