7 Tips for A Themed Custom Trade Show Booth Design

by Feb 21, 2017

Effective advertising is built around themes. Themes are the sun upon which branded advertising, campaigns, and slogans revolve. Thus, it should come as no surprise that building a themed trade show exhibit is an excellent way to visually reinforce your core message via a physical and immersive environment. Consider the following key beginner tips to incorporate themed trade show booth design:

Start with a Story  

Good stories are why people binge on Netflix, stay up till dawn to finish a novel, and refuse to leave the house until they complete our favorite video game. The best-themed custom trade show booth designs incorporate similar tactics by designing booths with engaging and addictive stories. 

Make Sure the Story Integrates  

Themes are best when they make sense and support your overall business message and objective. For example, a bread company would be more successful focusing on a farm theme than a space theme (unless they’re selling NASA-inspired bread of course). 

Integrate Story-esque Elements  

The next step is to build upon the brand story with exhibit graphics and displays. Don’t be bashful. Boast key products or services that communicate the company theme, history and brand messaging proudly.

For a cohesive example of this, consider WhiteWave Foods recent themed trade show booth design fashioned after an outdoor food festival. Here, they are telling their story of promoting plant-based foods over traditional Americana eats through the use of retrofitted trailers, rustic coffee bar, and outdoor/indoor picnic settings that draw guests into the story experience. The best part? Numerous items can be re-used in a mobile marketing tour or other experiential campaigns.


One of our favorites themed exhibits was a custom log cabin trade show booth we designed and built for Sightron at annual SHOT Show Expo in Las Vegas, NV. We created the exterior panels using flex wood; this method would give us the three-dimensional realistic look we were going for all the while being lightweight and durable. The cabin also featured rolling barn doors with their logo etched in glass panels, die-cut logos, and a custom made product showcase.  

Allow for Thematic Immersion with Hands-on Opportunities.  

To continue the WhiteWave Foods example, not only could guests browse the festival-like environment, but the could also sit and enjoy the packaging and products as if they were in a true market environment. This allowed visitors to feel, taste, and see the theme. This is a true grassroots experiential marketing experience. Highly effective in creating brand advocates.

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Incorporate Campaign Elements with the Theme 

Opting for a themed custom trade show booth design is an investment, so why squander it by making it a one-off? Maximize the power of a theme at both an upcoming event and for audiences elsewhere. Integrate themed elements in pre and post-show newsletters, create versatile banners, signage and interactive games that both add to the booth during the event and can be re-purposed elsewhere.

Enlist staff to Take the Theme to the Next Level  

As with most business projects, effectiveness and true customer engagement hinges on informed and enthusiastic employees. Talk to potential booth staff about the importance of playing up theme and consider hiring professional event staff that are well versed in this aspect of booth promotions. Depending upon the route taken, theme-specific roles for each employee could make the exhibit even more interesting and interactive to visitors.

Don’t Skimp on the Details  

A week, even a month before your big event, set up your booth and consider all the details. Add props that reinforce your message and amplify the immersion. For example, those looking for an outdoor or picnic-like feel might add picnic-baskets.  

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