Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sign, sign everywhere a sign

With apologies to Bill Engvall and The Five Man Electrical Band, this entry is all about signs--the hanging variety used at trade shows.

The NACS show was a great example of companies using hanging structures as a part of their dimensional marketing strategy. Many use them as signposts so that visitors looking for them can find their booth from across the hall. Others use them as an extension of the booth itself--whether that be a physical extension of the structure or a graphical look that ties to the booth.

They can also be used to convey a message--verbal or visual. Perhaps it's the logo of the company, an extension of the booth message or look, or perhaps it's a symbol from a related or overarching campaign. Any and all of these approaches are justified when it comes to the highest signage in (or above) your space.

If you have an iconic product, then you have a real advantage. Heinz Ketchup and Goetze's Candies are examples of those who hung signs representative of their product. You have to be careful with scale (the size of sign in relation to the booth and the height limit), or your sign could get lost in the air. Keep in mind that at some shows the height limit can vary by the type of sign you have or from where it originates.

Hanging signs versus signs supported by the booth structure may be subject to different height limits. In most cases, height limits are measured to the top of the sign and are either at 16, 20, or 24 feet from the floor.

But above all (pun intended), keep the integrity of your icon--the same rules that apply to it in print or as a 3-D logo in the booth at eye level are to be enforced. Be sure the colors are true to the PMS colors specified for other uses. That can be tough when ink or dye colors change or look different under different types of light or from when they are applied to fabric or surfaces of sign material. Ask your vendor as they should have the experience to advise you of the challenges of the translation.

We'll discuss this again in a future entry with more examples.

Lesson learned: variety is the spice of trade show life in the hall.


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