The U.S. economy just posted its first period of contraction since 2007, and many exhibitors are looking for ways to reduce costs while improving their performance at tradeshows and other events. Fortunately, more print shops offer graphic design services with a greater ability to provide eye-popping custom graphics.
“People are starting to really trust and value design services offered in a print shop. With the continuous upgrades in programs, such as the Adobe Creative Suite, stock photo-purchasing options and different design styles based on the general subject matter, designs are being taken to new levels in the tradeshow industry,” said Lauren Spreitzer, online graphic designer, Nimlok. “The tools at our fingertips allow us to create tradeshow graphics quickly and efficiently to meet our customers’ deadlines.”
With an increased ability to produce quality graphics in-house, customers can get their products faster and at reduced cost. And that means a greater ability to produce high-quality custom graphics for less money.
“Designing the artwork in-house gives us the flexibility to build files according to our guidelines and reduces the preflight file checks required on most jobs,” said Jaime Herand, director of graphic operations, Orbus. “This can help us get the customer’s final product out the door faster with less shipping expenses for them.”
As might be expected, Adobe products continue setting the industry standard for graphic design software tools and make it possible to ensure an exact match for customer needs.
“The Adobe Creative Suite is constantly upgrading its software along with creating different plug-ins and program tools to make graphic design more diverse among the 3D world of design,” said Chris Prince, art services supervisor, Orbus. “With the addition of the Solid Works CAD drawing program, we are able to give graphic designers the ability to work directly off exported templates from the actual booth design. This will ensure that when setting up and designing the files, the artwork is 100 percent to the correct dimensions needed.”
While total confidence can be placed in dimensional needs, understanding and communicating design limitations does help ensure customer satisfaction in the final product. Color, in particular, can be a subjective element where opinions might differ on final outcomes. But when customers can see beforehand exactly what the final product will look like, it is easier to reach a consensus.
“There are various color tools to help our customers understand color and the limitations of large-format digital printers,” said Prince. “With tools like the Pantone matching system, our clients have a better handle on what to expect regarding color.”
While print shops have an enhanced ability to provide custom graphic designs for tradeshow booths and exhibits, those designs and graphic elements must complement the overall presentation.
“Graphic design for custom booths tends to be very clean and streamlined. As booths continue to incorporate more technology, lighting and fabric architecture, it is critical that the graphics blend with the overall booth,” said Herand. “The message on the display needs to be simple and clearly understood. There will always be new trends regarding font styles and color. As a designer, it is important to stay current on what is popular in the industry.”
Products requiring short production runs have also proven to be very popular. And tradeshows make great use of products designed to not only inform attendees but to provide easy solutions to last-minute problems.
“We are typically seeing requests for step-and-repeat backwalls, informational banner stands and table throws,” said Jenny Prado, art services supervisor, Orbus. “These products generally have a quick turnaround time, and the customer will need a last-minute solution.”
Although last-minute solutions often are necessary, allowing enough lead time to complete projects helps ensure a job is done well and on time.
“The lead time for graphic design can be anywhere from one to two days on commodity products, such as banner stands, backwalls or table throws, and four to five days on a custom booth design,” said Herand. “We will always try to work with a customer, even if the project is under lead time.”
With reduced costs and enhanced design and production capabilities, graphical elements are becoming a much more cost-effective marketing tool for tradeshow exhibitors.