Make Your Booth Pop with a Great Trade Show Backdrop!

Custom Exhibits | Exhibit Design
October 24, 2019

From a bird’s-eye view, your trade show backdrop is made of two main elements: words and design. The words, obviously, communicate information like your brand’s name or why people should buy it. The design 1) catches people’s eyes and 2) directs their eyes somewhere.

That somewhere is often those words. Whatever phrase they make up should almost always be five words or less. People are already in motion by the time they lay eyes on your backdrop; they have to be able to read and understand all of it before they slow down.

Thus, the design element of your trade show backdrop has two more jobs: make the text 1) easy to find and 2) easy to read quickly.

Your trade show backdrop is the foundation of the rest of your booth. You have to get it right.

Planning Your Trade Show Backdrop

When you’re thinking about what words to include on your trade show backdrop, you don’t have to default to your brand’s slogan. They can be anything. They can be specific to the trade show you’re at.

For example,’s slogan is “Fly. Sleep. Drive. Cheap.” But as we’ll see below, they don’t let that stop them from choosing other phrases for their trade show backdrops to drive particular points home to attendees. In fact, what they came up with for the example below might even be more effective at making someone want to use Hotwire’s travel services than their regular slogan.

Other than utilitarian words like the name of your company and your website, there should almost never be more than five words on your trade show backdrop. It’s just too much reading for someone who’s already tired and walking at full speed. Also, a short phrase is much easier for your design to support than a long-phrase.  


Learn About Virtual Exhibits

In the digital era, it’s important to adapt and embrace new technologies. Learn about how virtual trade shows can help you reach and engage new customers.

Trade Show Backdrop Design

Your trade show backdrop’s design is meant to 1) catch an attendee’s eye and 2) direct it somewhere. What should passersby remember most about your booth?

Pro tip: An attendee should know what your company does after passing by it the first time, even if they don’t stop to chat. Remember that when you’re deciding on what five-or-fewer-word phrase to use.

For example, a lighting company could put one bright, interesting-looking light on display against their backdrop, and make it illuminate their short, clear message which has been printed onto their backdrop. Of course, if the company’s name doesn’t have “Lighting” in it, the illuminated/ing message should leave no doubt as to the nature of their business.

Another way to direct a viewer’s eye is to simply let it do what it naturally does if it reads English–start in the top-left, move right, and work its way down. Thus, the top-left of your trade show backdrop is often the best place to put your eye catcher. This is called “visual hierarchy”.

A Bad Example:

trade show backdrop mistakes

This tall, narrow banner is perfect for bullet-point-style information with the most important bullet point at the top. But instead, it looks like the fictitious company using it, tossed little blurbs over their corporate shoulder and some of the blurbs stuck to this banner.

The first item on the banner is the company’s age. What? Someone walking by at full speed doesn’t even know what company this is–they really don’t care how old it is.

Next, we see the company’s phone number–even though they haven’t provided any reason to want to call them. Most people would look away at this point and never remember this booth because there’s nothing to remember. “I guess that booth was for people who are already ‘in’ with that company or something.”

A Good Example:

trade show backdrop

On the other hand, this simple trade show backdrop follows everything we talked about above. The most important words are huge and easy to read, and in the most important place–the upper-left. Working our way naturally down, we see a bright screen that’s probably going to show marketing information during exhibit hours. Of course, all these principles apply to whatever content ends up on that screen.

Finally, we see a very cool picture of the product. Recognizing that everyone already knows what Gatorade is, they didn’t even need to include any words on this backdrop besides the name of the brand.

There are three elements on this trade show backdrop and the eye never feels lost. It knows to start in the top-left, glance at the screen, and finish on the bottle.

Fun Trade Show Backdrop Ideas

How many ways can you use visual hierarchy to direct someone’s eye? How short can you make your messaging without losing its meaning? How easy can you make it for someone to understand and remember your booth just by walking by it?

Fun Trade Show Backdrop Idea #1: The G Series

trade show backdrop example

As it turns out, the really effective Gatorade example above was only half of a bigger, even more effective trade show backdrop. After our eye finishes with the first half, the half we just discussed, it finds an interesting trail to follow, to a mural-sized image of what drinking Gatorade makes you: a champion.

Notably, the second screen helps the eye along that trail. Together, the two screens make a sort of Start/Finish. The first one is at the trailhead, if you will, and the second is right at the end, in the middle of the reward we get for our brief attention.

Fun Trade Show Backdrop Idea #2

trade show backdrops

In this trade show backdrop, Hotwire actually gave us a daydream to have, and put their name and a message on it. The name is in the all-important upper-left but it’s also out of the way of the daydream. The message, “Wake up in the Caribbean.”, is right in the middle with a bright, white font. This quickly and successfully get their point across and grabs the reader’s attention.


Finalizing Your Trade Show Booth Backdrop

It’s scary when you don’t know what you don’t know. Exhibiting in a trade show–especially one that’s out of town–has so many moving pieces and variables to it, the first or even second or third go-around can be overwhelming.

Luckily, Exhibits NW has been guiding businesses of all sizes and experience levels through the process for over 25 years. If you have a business, yes, it belongs in a trade show. Exhibits NW is here to make the process smooth and rewarding, financially and otherwise.

If nothing else, just take this with you. Your trade show backdrop has words and visual design. Besides your company name, website, etc., your backdrop should (almost always) have five or fewer words. The design should make those words easy to find and easy to read quickly. The design should also catch people’s eyes and direct people’s eyes somewhere. Maybe to your words.

Once you’ve chewed on that for long enough, it might be time to start putting together your super impressive, highly profitable trade show backdrop, or even whole booth. Give us a call at 866-473-7511 to talk about all the trade show essentials–lead management, giveaways, travel details, you name it. Seriously, name everything that makes you nervous about your next trade show and we will figure it all out together.


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If you’re ready to take your trade show exhibits to new heights, fill out this form, and we’ll contact you shortly.

Schedule a Call
If you’re ready to take your trade show exhibits to new heights, fill out this form and we’ll contact you shortly.