What Are the Elements of Graphic Design?

Welcome to “Exhibitor Lounge” sponsored by Exhibit Edge.com.  I am your host and Trade Show Mixologist, Michael Gray. Here, each week, you receive simple, practical, and proven tips to improve your trade show marketing strategy and get better results while maximizing your budget.

Graphic design has two basic elements. They are: Content (which is also referred to as Copy) and then Layout. Last week we talked in general about the proper use of graphics so now let’s get more detailed about content and layout.

Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of your exhibit graphic is for one purpose. That is to get the prospect to stop in as little as 3 to 5 seconds and want to know more about what you offer. It doesn’t matter why they stop as long as they do. So let’s start with:

Copy or Content

  1. Use upper and lower case text as it is more readable then all caps.
  2. Use key words and headlines like “cut costs, save time, save money, fastest, new, and easiest.
  3. Use generic names that people would recognize. It doesn’t do much good to say “Come see the new LB 4500”.
  4. Know your ideal customer. Talk to them directly in your message.
  5. Questions make great and effective headlines.
  6. Talk to your sales staff to identify key words that your ideal client would focus on.

I want to go back to number 5 for a minute. The one that says questions make great and effective headlines. Exhibit Edge used this question technique for a trade show by asking a simple question, “Can your Exhibit Company do this?” We put this question over top of a big photo of an extremely backwards bent index finger. You can see the bent finger pulled way back to an impossible angle. It would be an understatement to say that we generated a lot of buzz over this simple question. People would come to the exhibit with postcard in hand and ask whose finger was that. They just had to know. The whole idea was to get people curious enough to stop and ask – which they did a lot. Now the postcard was actually a preshow mailer which also told the customer to stop by the exhibit to receive a gift and, of course, we would answer the question. The answer is “yes” if the exhibit company has in-house graphic design like Exhibit Edge. We literally modified the graphic because we are able to remove, relocate and touch up the finger in the photo to create the illusion of the over bent finger. Pretty sneaky huh – but it worked. I called it the “ewe” factor instead of the “wow” factor.  Ok, let’s talk about:


  1. Information should be visible at least 10 feet away.
  2. Always incorporate your corporate logo for customer retention.
  3. Avoid black text – use colored text.
  4. Keep it clean. Negative or blank space doesn’t mean you have to fill it.
  5. Use striking images and people photos over simple product only photos.
  6. Reserve the bottom of the graphic for website and other general information or photos as furniture and people can crowd out lower information. Put key headlines at eye level.
  7.  Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Imagine what the customer sees walking down the aisle

As always, please respond with your questions or comments and let others know about EXHIBITOR LOUNGE.COM. We will see you next week. Until then, I am your host Michael Gray telling you to RELAX in the Exhibitor Lounge.