Branding Written On ChalkboardA company’s brand is more than its logo. It’s an image, a feeling–an attitude–that portrays what a business stands for and instantly connects customers with a company. Marketers use elements such as logos, brochures, company websites, social media, public relations, advertising and packaging to convey brand elements and build a brand identity. But for many companies that exhibit at trade shows, their brand gets lost. How often have you been to a trade show, seen an exhibitor, and wondered: What exactly does this company do?

After more than 20 years in the trade show industry, I’ve seen that the disconnect often stems from companies treating trade shows as individual events instead of integrating them into an overarching brand communications strategy. But the sheer power of trade shows to cost-effectively connect with hundreds–even thousands–of customers and prospects make them an important avenue to showcase a brand.

In order to reap the benefits of your next trade show, bring in key stakeholders–marketing, public relations and exhibit partners–earlyon for a strategy meeting. By being on the same page from the get-go, you can define goals and determine key messages you want to convey at the show. And, you can ensure your brand promotions are consistent across all communication vehicles.

Here are three tips marketers can use to effectively maintain brand consistency at their next trade show:

1. Lead with your brand.
Discuss ways your brand can be brought to life through exhibit design and face-to-face experiences. Think brand attributes. Are you eco-conscious? Innovative? Dependable? Make that the primary inspiration for the design.

Let’s take the eco-conscious attribute as an example, which at its core, is about conserving resources and minimizing waste. The booth design should reflect that, perhaps by using lightweight, eco-friendly materials such as recyclable aluminum or energy efficient LED lighting, which can reduce energy use by up to 90%. Using earth-friendly materials like cotton for graphics and sharing company information electronically in lieu of printed marketing materials are other easy-to-implement options.

2. Identify desired goals.
An essential part of any strategy discussion is identifying the ultimate goal for your company at a trade show. Are you launching a new product? Looking to increase sales or brand awareness? Knowing your goals will help determine the kind of activities and special design considerations.

For example, if the main goal is to educate attendees about a brand, the exhibit should include demo areas, product samples and perhaps a theater for presentations. If the focus is closing sales for a product, include an enclosed conference room for private conversations.

3. Use effective graphics and messaging.
On a crowded show floor, it’s imperative your booth stands out with eye-catching graphics and meaningful messages. Use bold images and color schemes that are reflective of your brand. Create clear, concise, and focused messages that support your brand’s attributes and resonate with the target audience. Rather than saying what your product is and does, describe the key benefits to attendees.

Exhibit architecture and graphics is a powerful way to tell your brand’s story. Use your booth to clearly communicate the business value your company’s products or services and turn prospects into new customers. And, to ensure greater brand awareness, use these graphics and messaging in all communications leading up to the show–email communications, your website or a microsite, advertisements.