Exhibition stands: has functional become too formulaic?

Events and Exhibitions

August 30, 2023

Coming from a brand identity background, I probably view exhibition stands with a slightly different perspective than a 3-dimensional stand designer, however, it has occurred to me in my last few visits to the likes of BIBA and AIRMIC that stands are tending to look a bit… similar and, dare I say it – even a bit safe.

Admittedly, the stands I have seen this year are, for the most part, universally professional, smart and slick in appearance. And the better ones – brandformula’s included – pull in the crowds and get people meeting each other. However, taken as a whole I come away with the feeling that, if you covered up the logos on each stand, many of them would feel like pretty much slight variations of each other. And, therein lies another possible issue – are stands becoming more about materials, finish, and meeting spaces, and less about being a 3-dimensional representation of the brand itself? Of course, most stands stick to the correct colour palette for their respective brands but are they capturing the essence of the brand or a distinct personality trait? 

Is it time for brands to be a bit more adventurous in their stand designs? Of course, budget will play a part in what is feasible, but could stands start from a brand perspective first and try and encapsulate some key brand characteristics, with challenging and engaging design features, interesting shapes and bold use of colour for example? 

At brandformula we make a conscious effort to offer clients a range of different renders at the outset of the creative process (as per the examples above and below) and I often get excited at the potential that some of the designs have… however, they are invariably overlooked in favour of the ‘safer’, more conventional designs. 

Stands can surely strive to be more creatively challenging without eschewing functionality? A balancing act I appreciate – I saw a stand at BIBA that was so far visually removed from the competition (it turned heads admittedly) but looked like a record company had turned up at an Insurance event by mistake. 

Anyway, we at brandformula will continue to creatively push stand designs, where we think it will help the client thrive and elevate their brand generally. Watch this space!