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Brand Consistency At Trade Shows

Corporations often need to exhibit at simultaneous trade shows in different locales and for different reasons. They often have two trade show exhibits in the same city at the same time. Going one step further, a company may even have two separate trade show exhibits at the same trade show.

Oracle is an example of a company exhibiting at two trade shows at the same time in the same city. Why does this happen?

Quite simply, each trade show appearance had a different objective. One trade show exhibit concentrated on new lead generation, while the other trade show display’s focus was on new product launches. Even though these trade shows differed, Oracle’s message needed to be consistent in presenting their corporate brand. Trade show visitors may have a different agenda for attending each trade show, but the corporate message must remain consistent and easily identified with the corporate DNA.

Every aspect of trade show exhibit presence also must match up with company promotional materials, advertising, public relations, online marketing, website and direct mail. Companies lose identity when they dilute their image with mixed messages. Marketing pros say the golden rule is to stay true to your corporate message, reinforce the brand, and let everything else follow suit.

Event Marketer Magazine advises corporate marketers to be wary of delegating trade show activities to their product development staff. Product teams understandably tend to focus on products rather than the corporate message. This can seriously undermine the corporate image agenda.

So, in order to avoid mixed messages, pre show briefings with all the trade show staff team are essential. Then be sure to keep communication channels open and ongoing. Be on guard for any off the wall, wacky surprises that could distort your presentation. Also, have company monitors drop in at the trade show booths on the trade show exhibit hall to assure that the discipline of your corporate exhibiting goals is maintained.

As an example, Event Marketer Magazine sites the experience of DaimlerChrysler. With some 60 national auto shows, DaimlerChrysler works with its eight business units to develop trade show programs for these multi-market trade shows. They then send staffers from zone offices to check on the execution at the trade show. “Although we all have the objective of moving the metal, we also have to maintain the brand consistency,” says director of global event marketing Don Schmid. “That doesn’t always fit into what the dealers want to do.”

The DaimlerChrysler zone staffers leave a show after a few days, and dealers are often tempted to add additional makes and models to the exhibit space. “They might try and move in 15 percent more vehicles, which makes the space look like a parking lot,” says Schmid. “We have to be ready at all times to play sheriff.”


When exhibiting at a trade show, here are a few things to remember about corporate image reinforcement and brand consistency:

Understand the basic objectives of the design your corporate look.

Adhere to the parameters of the corporate image guidebook. All visuals must meet specific guidelines. Be aware not only of the physical specifications of visuals but also how to incorporate them for trade shows with multiple audiences and products. Stay true to your corporate colors and fonts and be conscious of how the name of the company is used.

Be consistent in your brand “mindset” –whether it be upscale, sophisticated, young or old. Not only with the way your trade show exhibit looks, but also with the dress style and comportment of your trade show booth staff.

Be sure everyone who represents your company is knowledgeable about all communication aspects of the company. Be able to articulate the brand in trade show booth graphics, sales pitches, promotional hand outs, email and web messages, even on business cards.

Many brands such as Yahoo! in Sunnyvale, Apple Computer Inc. in Cupertino, eBay in San Jose, Google in Mountain View, Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, Oracle in Redwood City, and Sun Microsystems of Santa Clara have distinctive logos and have a certain “personality” and feel about them.

Although they are all in the high tech industry, each of the brands is noted for their individual character. All have colorful and consistent images. Their brands are distinctive and successful, and their representatives have learned to speak with one voice.

Your company’s brand image will have a much great return on investment if you enforce these
basic disciplines.


About the Author: Dick Wheeler is President of Professional Exhibits & Graphics headquartered in Sunnyvale, Ca, with a showroom in Sacramento. He offers trade show exhibit, graphics and management services. http://www.proexhibits.com




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