Everyone knows the design process is rife with horror stories. Your unique display came out with a run-of-the-mill design. Your booth is too big, portrays the wrong image, and blows your budget. Display disasters may seem to have unrelated causes, but landing yourself in display design hell may be the result of questions you didn’t ask, steps you didn’t take and procedures you didn’t follow during the design process. Here are seven things to avoid ensuring that you get the display you actually want.



1. Not disclosing your design budget


How much you have to spend may feel like it is no one’s business but your own. It’s much better for the creative process to set the designer loose without any ideas of expense to weigh them down, right? Wrong.

Budget secrecy can be counterproductive. Disclosing your budget as soon as possible can give you a realistic expectation of what can be done for what you’re willing to pay, as well as guiding your designer. Ask your designer what they’ve done with budgets similar to yours so that you know what to expect.



2. Not allowing enough time


Your designer needs to create an effective and creative space that builds traffic, generates leads, educates customers, demonstrates products, and makes sales and more. This requires intense planning and therefore, substantial time. Allowing insufficient time guarantees conservative, predictable and simplistic results no one is happy with. Ideally this would start with the designer acquiring a feel for what is wanted, and fabricating those ideas into reality. This process can only go so fast however, if you want a good outcome.

The amount of time you need to give your designer depends on a few factors, but mostly  on the size of the display you’ll need. Consider your budget, because the type of display you’re building holds equal importance when it comes to time frame. Discuss your needs with your display company before you begin so that they can give you a realistic time frame for production. It may seem impossibly long, but keep in mind that adequate time is needed to account for brand messaging, displaying your product, demonstration areas, graphics, materials, lighting, and audio-visual equipment that need to be added into the booth.  

Be careful rushing your job through, as a compressed time frame means less time to fix inadvertent mistakes, make corrections to the design midway and view the display before it goes off to the trade show and set up.



3. No brand definition


Not defining your brand is quicksand when it comes to designing a display. A brand is a set of memories, stories, relationships and expectations that account for the consumer’s decision to choose one product over another. Without a narrative from you that encompasses your brand, designers have difficulty creating a display that expresses your brand well.

This important information should be expressed in a Brand Style Guide, which holds a detailed description of your brand. It starts with your logo, colours, typography and marketing collateral. It can be also be helpful to construct a type of brand biography, which includes information on how your company is perceived in the marketplace, what makes you different from your competitors, what messages you hope to communicate and what attributes define your target audience.

Give designers time to familiarise themselves with your branding and allow time for questions and clarifications. The better they understand your brand, the more targeted your display solution will be.


4. Failing to set objectives


What is the goal of your display? When designers ask about goals, sometimes the answers they get back are vague at best: “We want to get our brand out there” or, “We want our booth to have the “wow” factor. These statements are business jargon, not tangible goals that will generate results. Designing a display without predetermined objectives will most likely result in an end product almost nobody is satisfied with.

Design can be emotional and dependent on individual tastes and preferences.  So take ownership in setting goals by bringing your team together ahead of time before the designer even looks at the project. Your objectives should define what a successful build is for your display, centred on measurable goals. Work with the designer to ensure the display design execution is focused on achieving these objectives.



5. Failing to give a clear direction


When it comes to display design, it is not unusual to be dealing with many conflicting demands and internal opinions. It is a good idea to get all of your stakeholders to commit their goals to paper early on, and then come to an agreement regarding those goals.

Giving your designer a clear direction can save you time and avoid costly mistakes. Your designer will be able to translate your goals into your display, as long as they know what you want from the beginning.



7. Deserting your designer


Getting a display designed is not the same as ordering a book online, where your participation in the process concludes as soon as you finish clicking the mouse. The process of design is more like a personal relationship than an commercial exchange.

Generally, the less you communicate the more surprises you get. Keep in touch during the process to prevent a design going in the wrong direction, and giving it enough time to get back on the right one. Your designer will offer a continual flow of drafts and a report of progress… your job is to respond promptly with any corrections or comments. Leaving a draft on your desk for a few days or weeks is not advisable, because it will create a bottleneck in the production process.

Any one of these six mistakes can result in a display disaster. By avoiding these pitfalls, articulating your brand, your goals and giving designers plenty of time – will result in a display that achieves measurable results.