5 Tradeshow Signage Design Mistakes Companies Make

Indoor event signs for Rise Up conference

5 Tradeshow Signage Design Mistakes Companies Make

With event season just around the corner, many Vancouver companies have already started tradeshow signage design. Sandbox Signs + Graphics has been creating tradeshow signs and displays for Vancouver area companies for years and we’ve seen a lot of different designs – some good and some that could have used a trip back to the drawing board.

With that in mind, we thought we’d share common design mistakes we’ve seen over the years.

1) Too Much Information

With all design, including tradeshow signage and display design, “less is more”, as the saying goes. With signs, too much information can negate the impact of the sign.

People don’t read signs verbatim; they scan signs for key information that jumps out at them. What’s key? The brand name and/or company name, contact info and call to action, and a succinct, focused marketing message with clearly stated benefits.

Attendees wandering tradeshow aisles and viewing your signage from a distance, should also understand the sign’s primary message. When there is too much information, the most important message becomes obscured.

Tradeshow signage is a little different than other forms of signage. It functions much like a billboard. You may have noticed that although billboards are fairly massive in scale, they aren’t jammed with information. Often, the design will be sparse – an impressive and compelling background image, the brand name and product name; one-line benefit, tagline, or value proposition; URL, and perhaps an email address and phone number.

2) Too Much Emphasis

Similar to “too much information”, too much emphasis makes a tradeshow sign’s message unfocused. If you use too many headings and bold fonts, instead of creating emphasis, nothing stands out and clutter becomes your enemy. If you have too many callouts, or product/service items listed, too many elements will compete for the viewer’s attention.

3) No Clear Focus

The best tradeshow displays – the signs and other collateral that stand out on the tradeshow floor – have a narrowly focused message. While it’s tempting to include lists of all services, paragraphs, multiple headings, details about your company, the most effective tradeshow signage has:

  • Branding (company name, logo, tagline)
  • A crisply written benefit (often the largest headline)
  • A brief value proposition that appeals to a potential customer’s pain points
  • A single, clear call to action
  • Contact information
  • Impactful, evocative graphics that make an emotional connection with a viewer

4) No Call to Action

A call to action (CTA) is a simple element to implement, yet easily overlooked in tradeshow signage design. A CTA isn’t just your company phone number or URL. CTAs entice the potential customer to take a specific action. A giveaway or loss leader is often used to entice people to make take the desired action.


“Text ‘Yes’ to 123-456-7890 and receive your free sample”

5) Inconsistent Tradeshow Signage & Display Design

Sometimes a company’s tradeshow signage and other event collateral are a hodgepodge of designs and messaging. This often occurs when only the main tradeshow displays (e.g. booths, kiosks) are redesigned and other collateral aren’t updated. Tradeshow signage, whether large or small, should use consistent branding, design and messaging. A “mix” of design style and messaging may leave a hazy impression.

Receive a Free Tradeshow Signage Estimate

If you’re looking for tradeshow signs and displays in Vancouver, we’re always happy to discuss options and provide guidance. Contact us for a free consultation.