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Trade Show Booth Design: 9 Pointers & Inspo for Planning Your Space


Top Drawer, pictured above, is one of the most popular trade shows among CREOATE brands. Image from Olympia London

Nailing your trade show booth design is always a challenge, whether you’ve trying to keep things fresh after attending them for years, or are looking to get noticed at your first one. 

How do you stand out from the competition, help your products shine, and design something slick, all within just a few feet of space? 

Here are nine pointers to help get you started with your exhibition booth design:

9 Trade show design pointers

  1. Find out everything about your space ASAP
  2. Map out your layout
  3. Light everything well
  4. Go bold with your brand
  5. Educate with your signage
  6. Make your hero product the hero
  7. Optimise for your end goal
  8. Don't forget the final props and finishing touches
  9. Leave plenty of time to set up 

1. Find out everything about your space ASAP

Planning your booth design can only properly start once you know what you have to work with. You’ll want to get clear on the answers to questions like:

  • What size is my booth? 
  • Which side of the booth will have more footfall?
  • Are there any height restrictions? 
  • What will already be in the space?
  • Am I allowed to stick things to the floor? 
  • How many plugs will I have, and where are they located? 
  • When will I have access to the space before the show?


2. Map out your layout

Just like designing a layout for a shop, the way you design your trade booth layout can be the difference between a space feeling inviting, and it feeling cluttered and off putting.

The trick is to leave enough space for people to browse comfortably — even if that comes at the expense of things like having a table and chairs as part of your display. Don’t be drawn into trying to get every idea into your one booth; the simpler displays are always our favourites. 

For most trade shows, all you’ll have is the bare ‘walls’ of your booth, and from there you’ll need to plan your own cabinets, shelving, counters, tables, and anything else.



Rumble Cards’s Top Drawer booth is bigger than most, and it would have been tempting to fit much more into the space. But what makes the whole display so unbelievably cool and slick is just how much room each product has to shine.


3. Light everything well 

Good lighting is everything, always. And at a trade show, lighting does more than build ambiance; it’s pointing your potential buyers towards your best products, and helping them (literally) shine. 

Cooler lighting helps your products pop, while warmer lighting builds a more homely effect, so your choice there depends on the vibe you’re trying to create. 

Battery-powered self stick spotlights and strip lights are cheap and an easy way to switch up your lighting as needed, so we’d definitely recommend bringing along plenty of spares; it can be hard to know what you need until you’re in the space, and can see what lighting you have to work with.

4. Go bold with your brand

Our favourite trade show booths really make the most of colour, and help the exhibitor’s brand shine through. When it comes to booth design, we think bold is best; with hundreds of other brands all working the same space, standing out is always a positive.



Freya Niamh Design takes bold colours to a whole new level, with the brand colours woven through everything, from the walls to the products themselves. The end result is eye-catching and cohesive, packing a big punch with a small space


5. Educate with your signage 

People looking at your booth need to understand who you are, and what your brand sells. If your signage and display communicates that clearly, the basics are in place. 

But remember, your buyers aren’t just thinking about their personal preference when browsing your stall; they’re thinking about how they can sell your products on to their end customers.

Extra flourishes can help bring your product collections to life. In an ideal world, you’d be able to have a full conversation with everyone passing your booth, but in reality, everyone’s going to be having a busy day (you included!). A little extra signage can help communicate key points quickly. 



Carefully-placed bursts of copy, like these examples from Minibeau’s booth, help people get to grips with your values and the inspiration behind your products


6. Make your hero product the hero

Think about your hero product. You know the one; the bestseller, the original, the award winner, the one that sums up your brand, draws people in, or gets them talking. 

Make sure this product has pride of place; its own display, its own spotlight, and strategic placement closest to the action. 

💡 Top tip: Make sure people have a way to properly interact with your products (particularly the hero ones!). A neat display is important, but the buyers need to be able to get a good sense of how your products feel, and how they work — it’s a big part of why trade shows are still popular, even though it’s easier than ever to shop wholesale online. So make it easy for them to pick up and play around with key products, as well as admiring them on the shelves. 



Sunshine Lane’s hero product is this Daisy Spinner Ring, which was also shortlisted for best new product in the Top Drawer spotlight awards. Not only is it sitting in pride of place in the booth (one of the first things people will see), but the extra signage helps people understand the product quickly (it’s not clear just from looking at it that it spins, which is a great USP), as well as showing off its shortlisted status.


7. Optimise for your end goal 

Trade shows are a great way to meet buyers, and land wholesale orders. 

But if you had to get really specific about your goals for this particular trade show, what’s the one action you want people to take? Or the one thing you want to achieve? 

Once you have a singular goal in mind, you can optimise your space accordingly. If you want buyers to join a mailing list, give them a place where they can leave their cards in a bowl for you to add to the list later. If you want to finalise as many orders as possible, maybe you want a clear QR code that takes them down a simple ordering journey, or even a physical form you can fill in with them there and then. If you just want to meet as many people as possible, go in hard on your marketing beforehand, and maybe give people a way they can book in chats with you. Or you might want a combination of all of these, which also works! Just make sure your booth is functional as well as looking great.


8. Don’t forget the final props & finishing touches 

While you don’t want your space to look cluttered, a few well-placed props can really elevate the final look of your booth. They’re worth bringing along, even if in the end you decide that they’re not needed — it’s always better to bring too much rather than too little.


Proper Good’s booth already looks great, but the simple addition of this checkerboard rug (swipe through to the fourth pic!) to brings the whole thing together


9. Leave plenty of time to set up

Trade shows can be a brilliant experience, but are also an intense one. You want to arrive on day one of the show feeling rested and raring to go. 

So make sure you leave as much time as possible to set up, so you don’t end up working on it into the evening. You’ve probably spent months designing this booth in some form, so give yourself enough time to do it justice. 

Remember, for example, if you’re painting your walls, you’ll need to allow plenty of time for the paint to dry before you can do anything on top. Even slightly tacky paint will make adding things like vinyl stickers take that bit longer. Allow a margin for some things to go wrong (they will!). 


6 Other tips for exhibiting at a trade show

Now you’ve nailed your booth design, here are five bonus tips for successfully exhibiting at a trade show (in no particular order!);

  1. Bring plenty of water, snacks, and a lunch with you. It might be tricky to find time to take a proper break, so it’s important to have things to hand. 
  2. Go hard on your marketing. Post behind-the-scenes footage of you setting up, and post each day you’re at the event (and tag the trade show in your posts, and use their hashtag), as well as announcing in advance that you’re attending. 
  3. Connect with existing contacts, as well as new ones. Reach out in advance and on the day to let your existing stockists or contacts know where they can find you at the event, and encourage them to stop by. Trade shows can be a great way to strengthen existing relationships, as well as make new ones. 
  4. Browse Instagram for inspiration beforehand. Exhibiting at your first trade show? Look under the show’s tagged posts on Instagram to gather inspiration for your own booth. Or if possible, attend a trade show before you exhibit at one, even if it’s not the same one. Some brand owners have also shared their experience of exhibiting at a trade show in more detail over on YouTube, so we’d definitely recommend giving those a watch. 
  5. Befriend your neighbours! Trade shows are a wonderful, friendly environment, and a great place to connect with other brand owners, as well as buyers.
  6. Bring notebooks, pens, and paper napkins. All useful things to have around! 


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