Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Simplify Your Message

Don't leave your exhibit visitors guessing.
You might be surprised how often exhibitors do.

After exiting an exhibit, what message or memory stands out? Other than a booth being really interesting or innovative, is there a lasting message—and does it relate to the company’s products or objectives?

Exhibitor editor, Travis Stanton suggests practicing “The Postcard Principle.”  If you were about to mail a postcard with a breathtaking photo of the exhibit on the front, what would you write on the back? Can you boil the exhibit’s intended selling points down to just a few words?  Has the exhibit’s key takeaway been reinforced by not only the appearance of the booth, but also the attendee’s experience while at the booth?

Of course this is easier said than done.  Simple is never easy.  However, Stanton explains that although simplifying your trade show objective may be difficult, once it has been simplified, the rest of the planning falls easily into place.  Not only will your exhibit visitors leave your booth with a clear message, but seeing that message from the beginning can and should drive every other decision you make.

Smart exhibitors, who begin by examining their intended takeaway, reap the benefits of reverse engineering because that message should provide the inspiration for your graphics, booth layout & atmosphere, exhibit activity, product handouts and giveaways.  At the very least, the message should offer a foundation for the informal script you create for staffer engagements with attendees.

From Exhibitor’s monthly feature “Ideas that Work,” we have selected five exhibits to evaluate whether they meet the test of simple, unified and reinforced messaging that could easily be summed up on the back of a postcard.

What would you write on your postcard after visiting these exhibits?

AMERICAN EXPRESS - App for Matching Receipts to Statements
To be reminded of the constant frustration
of retaining receipts for company reimbursement,
attendees play a game of "Capture the Receipt."

  • While enclosed in a phone booth like structure, each attendee experiences the frustration of holding onto receipts while receipts are blown with strong fans around her. 
  • As receipts swirl around phone booth, each attendee has 30 seconds to grab as many receipts as possible for prizes. 
  • Prizes. T-shirts and gift certificates. 

FIRST CLASS SEATING - Luxury Event Chairs

  • Attendees sit in luxury seating in airplane setting to associate event chairs with the first class air travel experience. 
  • Staffers dressed as flight attendants explain the myriad of applications for the new event seating.
  • Airline-style snacks such as packets of peanuts. 

FIZIK BICYCLE SEATS - Ergonomic Bicycle Seats
Attendees play a game of tossing rings to
win an ergonomic bicycle seat.
  • Attendee is personally fitted for a Fizik bicycle seat enabling her to experience the comfort and performance benefits of a proper-fitting, ergonomic seat.
  • Attendees participate in seat-sizing activities which involve testing spine curvature. Once ideal seat is selected, attendee has the opportunity to win the seat in a ring-toss game.
  • Prize is personally-fitted bicycle seat.


  • Experience your caricature as part of a large cityscape caricature of the mountain-resort town of Ogden, Utah. 
  • While caricature is drawn, staffers discuss Ogden’s many meeting friendly attributes. 
  • Your personal caricature and photo of your caricature placed within 10 x 10 cityscape caricature of Ogden. 

ANTIY LABS - Antivirus Software
Attendees learn about the latest malware,
while playing their own card game of chance.

  • Attendees experience the random nature of malicious malware attacks by participating in a card game of chance.
  • Collecting whimsically-illustrated playing cards with each card providing the name and description of the latest malware.
  • Playing cards. With handy QR code linked to company’s website.

Simplify Your Message Without Starting from Scratch

DisplayStar can help you direct and reinforce your message.  The good news is you don’t have to start from scratch.  Often, the right banner or accessory added to your existing display is all you need.

Banners work great to update booths for new products or services—and sales promotions.  Adding the right accessory to your display can completely change the focus.  For example, counters are ideal for product demonstrations and slat walls are perfect for hanging apparel.

For presenting a more detailed message, add a monitor mount to hold a flat panel screen.  The screen can be positioned for maximum visibility in a crowded booth.  Or, convenient for an off-site presenter to attend shows via videoconference.

Adding Banner Stands to your display is a great way to
channel and reinforce your message.  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Meet Marie Our Catalog Designer!

Top Notch and Impeccable Catalogs
Marie's driving motivation is that she really cares about
the finished product.  She has an incredible eye for detail and is a
perfectionist when it comes to "what goes out the door."
Because we are in the display and large print format business, DisplayStar’s visual communications can’t be anything short of top notch and impeccable.

As our Catalog Manager, Marie is responsible for creating our catalogs that showcase not only our displays, but also our brilliantly colored, stunning graphics. This position relies on all her skills and experience: 38 years in the Trade/Commercial Printing Industry along with fluency in 3D, Flash, Web/CSS, InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Her duties span from composition and layout, editing, creating/re-creating images—proofing, proofing, proofing—and prepping the file for printing, including preflighting. Originating from the term “preflight checklists” used by pilots, preflighting in printing is the process of confirming that the digital files required for the printing process are all present, valid, correctly formatted, and of the desired type. 

Every Component Is Checked and Double Checked

  1. Are all the fonts included with the print files?
  2. Is every link connected to the right image/artwork?
  3. Is the resolution sufficient?
  4. Is the type safely away from folds, trims, etc.?
  5. Margins correct?
  6. Does the artwork have artifacts (things that shouldn’t be there—graphics hiding behind graphics)?
  7. Is the document in the correct color mode, for example CMYK for offset printing?
  8. Does all the color match? 
  9. Is the same Pantone color for red, for example, used throughout the document?
  10. Skin tones too red?
  11. Will it meet the specifications of the printers?

Marie's latest challenge has been re-visioning our catalog for the 2016 version.  Inspired to produce a more spacious catalog with larger, bolder images and less text, she changed to a landscape format. The 2016 catalog will also feature new display applications such as corporate and retail.

Piecing Together a Complex Puzzle
Marie’s driving motivation is that she really cares about the finished product. She has an incredible eye for detail and is a perfectionist when it comes to “what goes out the door.”
Marie also creates the art for DisplayStar's weekly eblast
 which highlights the benefits of an existing product
 or introduces a new product or special promotion.

“I love the challenge. My job is like piecing together a complex puzzle—beginning at the micro level and finishing with an overall quality product. I also love our slim, stylist products; and the fact that I work with equally experience, focused, and quality-driven people.”

“At breaks, I love to stretch my legs and check out what’s happening—the buzz—in production. It’s fascinating to watch as they check dimensions and put together the large, 20 by 20 foot booths. Just as interesting are the sewing machine operators as they run hundreds of yards of knit fabric and zippers under the foot pedal of their machine. And let’s not forget the innovative content. Typically it features a company’s latest product or a new product made by a start-up company.”

Bright lights and bright images have always captured Marie’s attention.  Naturally, her favorites displays are part Igniter Light Box.  Ultra-bright LEDs combined with high resolution dye-sub fabric, create deep density colors and blacks that brighten for stunning memorable impact.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Dream Factory (Oregon Chapter)

DisplayStar donates a custom printed 10’ Star Fabric display to be used as a backdrop at the Dream Factory of Oregon’s annual fundraising gala.  The tension frame pulls the fabric graphic taut, providing a smooth, edgeless surface for the high-resolution, dye-sub graphic of the children’s smiling faces to stand out. 

“If dreaming means to see new possibilities—the Dream Factory organization may grant dreams, but the children inspire us to dream.  As they embrace life and live courageously with life-threatening and chronic illness and disorders, they remind us that life is too precious to waste questioning the moment—and not being in the moment.” 

Pure Joy, Sheer Excitement and Dreams Realized
This week I had the pleasure of getting to know the Oregon Chapter of the Dream Factory.

Years ago, Terry Niedermeyer, DisplayStar’s President, had crossed paths with the Dream Factory and was inspired by their organization. So when he heard they were preparing for their annual fund raising gala, he was happy to donate a Star Fabric display, banner stand and table throw.

The gala event was Saturday, October 24 at the Multnomah Athletic Club Ballroom in Portland. The evening included live entertainment, raffles, and a silent and live auction. It was a great success with hundreds in attendance—and $100,000 raised!

The Annual Dream Factory Gala raises $100,000 to make dreams come true for critically and chronically ill children.  The hard working Board of Directors take a moment to reflect on the evening’s success. 

“The 10’ Star Fabric was great choice for a backdrop,” Terry explains.  “The large graphic really captures the pure joy and sheer excitement of the children’s faces at the moment their dream has been realized.”

“In addition, the pink and blue lighting of the Gala worked to really illuminate the display.”

A Picture is Always Worth a Thousand Words
The images of the children at theme parks or with their favorite celebrity hero, not only provides memories that the children will cherish forever, but it also serves as a source of inspiration for all the volunteers and donors who work tirelessly to make it happen. 

Brittany Sullivan, a Dream Factory Volunteer Coordinator, understands how the image would engage and inspire potential donors at the gala event. 

“We were hoping to make a bold, visual statement by highlighting the joy that Dream children feel when their dream is fulfilled.  It is easy to tell a story about a child's dream, but as they say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words!’  People engage more when they have a visual representation.”

“. . . [the display] items will triple our visual exposure and I have no doubt that this will substantially help us to tell a child's story.”

How the Dream Factory Differs
1)  The Dream Factory is the only national children's wish-granting organization that grants dreams to children with chronic illnesses as well as life-threatening illnesses. They believe that children with chronic illnesses should also be given a reprieve from their constant struggle with medical problems. The Dream Factory strives to provide happiness, inspiration and hope for children and their families so they may have a little extra strength to face the difficult and emotional times ahead.

2)  The Dream Factory is an all-volunteer organization on the chapter level with a small staff at their national headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. This very low overhead allows The Dream Factory to consistently dedicate at least 80% of all funds raised to the direct expense of granting dreams.

3)  Their dedicated volunteers raise money in their own communities and then use those funds to grant the dreams of local children. Because of this grassroots approach to fundraising, 92% of all funds raised remains in the community of origin to grant dreams to local children.

The Dream Factory Grants Dreams, the Children Inspire Us to Dream
If dreaming means to see new possibilities—the Dream Factory organization may grant dreams, but the children inspire us to dream. As they embrace life and live courageously with life-threatening and chronic illness and disorders, they remind us that life is too precious to waste questioning the moment—and not being in the moment.

I was inspired when I read about dream recipients Kanya and Kiera. Kanya, although born without legs, has embraced her athleticism and competitive spirit and gone on to become the third fastest woman in wheelchair racing in the United States. Kiera, a quadruple amputee, is a skillful modern dancer whose dancing artistically communicates passion and beauty.

Kanya’s other dream is to be a model. Thanks to the Dream Factory, Kanya received her dream of a professional modeling shoot. Kiera, who has stricken the word “disability” from her vocabulary, proved just how able she is by performing at Julliard, the prestigious New York City arts school. Through generous donations, the Dream Factory of Oregon was able to coordinate a week-long stay at Juilliard, where Kiera sat in on classes and performed a special routine for the students.

Kiera, a graceful modern dancer, participates in the Gala events.  Through generous donations, the Dream Factory of Oregon was able to coordinate a week-long stay at Juilliard, where Kiera sat in on classes and performed a special routine for the students.

If you are interested in reading more, making a donation or volunteering at The Dream Factory of Oregon, please visit The Dream Factory of Oregon.