Exhibitors can spell out their stories with words, but trade show exhibit messaging is most successful when the messages are visual and can intuitively be understood at a glance. Whether you communicate via architecture, graphics, props, symbols, icons, or physical objects, seeing is where the real believing starts.


Here are five visual storytelling techniques you can use in your trade show exhibit:

1. Forms, Materials and Finishes. The style of the elements in your booth—and the way you finish them—goes a long way toward reinforcing your desired brand image. At the International Home + Housewares Show (IHA), Libbey (pictured above) used raw wood floors, steel grids, and exposed brick to provide visual proof of how well its tableware fits into today's urban lifestyles. (Exhibit design and fabrication by 3D Exhibits)


2. Theme and graphic elements. Another way to visually tell your story is through your choice of graphic and theme elements. At Natural Products Expo West (NPEW), Justin's introduced its new nut butter-covered nuts by creating a booth that also appeared to be covered in nut butter. This solution was fun and efficient at communicating with attendees. (Exhibit design in-house. Exhibit fabrication, Condit Exhibits.)


3. Props and vignettes. Physical props make far more impactful messages than written statements. Nespresso brought home the point that its aluminum capsules are recyclable by showcasing actual items, like the bike pictured above, that had been fabricated from recycled Nespresso capsules. (Exhibit design by Studioworks. Fabrication by SW Displays)



SodaStream made a similar point with non-interactive demos that showed exactly how much waste could be saved with one SodaStream bottle. (Design and fabrication by Barzilai Exhibition Experts. Graphics by 0304 design studio)



4. Symbols and icons. Me & the Bees Lemonade integrated honeycomb shapes into its backwall to convey the company's unique relationship with honey bees. Not only is the product sweetened with honey, the company donates a portion of its profits to save the honeybees. Me & the Bees' solution also served as a great launch point to tell attendees its story. (Exhibit design and fabrication by Wide Angle)

5. Video. Video can also be a great way to communicate a story visually. Just think in terms of short, non-linear clips that can be understood instantly without sound or dialog—and regardless of at what point the attendee starts watching. Bell Helicopter does an excellent job of using this technique to generate buzz for its Bell Nexus. (Exhibit design and fabrication by GES)


How do you use visual storytelling in your exhibit?