Creative Instinct Blog – Branding & Marketing Tips for Busy Professionals

Informative articles and tips on marketing for small businesses.

How to Create an Effective Trade Show Display

tradeshow-graphics-icmWith all the trade show display options available today, it’s easy to lose sight of the basics. When it comes to creating a trade show display, your images and messages should be simple and your layouts clean. There are many things to consider when designing a good display. Relying on the expertise of a professional graphic designer is your best bet. However, here are 5 basic tips on creating a display that is effective and eye-catching.

Below are five basic elements that every trade show display should include and tips for using each of these elements to create an effective trade show display.

  1. Visual
  2. Headline
  3. Description
  4. Company name & Logo
  5. Website

1. VISUAL – Select your photos and images carefully.

Simple, bold and clear images are the most effective in creating a memorable canvas for your selling story. Ornate, involved, mysterious and confusing art and graphics may be great to look at but can be distracting and much less effective as a backdrop for your trade show message.

Tip: If possible, select simple single images. You may want to use many images to tell a complicated story, but often, a single simple image will serve you just as well. Your graphic designer can help locate the right photography to convey your message.

2. HEADLINE – Make it simple & easy to remember.

Choose your words carefully, and keep the headline for your trade show display simple, clear and short!

Most people that did not plan to visit you at the show will simply walk past your booth. They may, at best, give your display a passing glance. This, believe it or not, is often your only chance to grab them. If your trade show display has a carefully thought out and compelling headline, they may choose to take an extra moment and learn a little more about your company.

The shorter your headline the larger it can appear on your trade show display. The larger it is on your trade show display the further your display can reach into the trade show traffic. Even a small table top display with a short bold message can be seen from several yards away.

Your choice of typeface is also important. With thousands to choose from, the task of selecting the right one can seem daunting. Your graphic designer can help you choose the right font for your message.

Tip: Choose a simple and easy to read typeface. Next time you’re at a trade show, take notice of the displays produced by large companies. Not necessarily large booths, but even table top displays produced by large and successful companies consistently use simple bold graphics. You can and should do the same.

3. DESCRIPTION – Keep it short and sweet.

We know it’s tempting to write a description for your trade show display that explains everything you want your customer to know about your product or service, but don’t!

As much as you would like them to, most trade show attendees will not want to spend much time reading about your company. If the headline and graphic of your trade show display captured their attention, they may want to read a sentence or two at most. Keep your sentences short and choppy. Make each word count.


  • Use bullet points
  • Keep your messages short
  • Don’t get too technical
  • Less is more

If you have access to a copywriter, use one. If not, ask a friend, a school teacher, and/or someone not connected to your business to review your trade show display description. You will be amazed how at how much you can learn.

4. COMPANY NAME & LOGO – Make it prominent.

It’s amazing how many trade show displays seem to hide their company name. You pay a lot of money to exhibit. Take a little extra effort and make certain your company’s name is easy for all to see!

Tip: Have the company name placed in the header portion of your trade show display, as most trade show visitors will expect to find it there.

As for a company logo, if you don’t have one, we suggest you hire a graphic designer to create one. It is your opportunity to make an impression. It makes you look established and professional.

5. WEBSITE – Feature the address.

Probably the single most important message in your whole trade show display is your website address. This is because if the show attendee saw something at your booth that interests them, they can copy your website address, even at a distance, and visit it at their leisure. If you don’t already have a website, get one!

Tip: Try to select a website name that is both meaningful to your business and one that is easy to remember.

Follow the five basic elements outlined above to make any table top display or floor display more effective at your next trade show.

Need help with your trade show display design?

Call Creative Instinct now at 501-244-0573 for a free consultation. We provide branding for your business, including: logo design, trade show display design, brochures, website design and more. Call today or send an email to Gwen Canfield: To see samples of our work, visit (Display pictured at top right of article designed by Creative Instinct for ICM, Inc. in Little Rock, AR)

Article written by Alex Virvo


Continuity: Creating A Professional “Image” for Your Organization

Today, marketing and advertising your business is all about branding. A key element in the effort to establish your oranization’s marketing identity is something called continuity. What exactly is that? It’s the strategy and process of coordinating all the elements of a marketing message to achieve a consistent, memorable, overall “look and feel” for a company, service, or product.

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? It’s really all about making sure that everything you do as a company has a coordinated look and feel about it. Graphically, that means creating a standard logo, selecting a corporate color (or colors), a particular typeface, even a photo or illustration style. Content-wise, it means determining key points for your marketing messages that clearly, concisely, and compellingly elucidate your unique selling proposition (there’s another one of those industry terms that falls in and out of fashion on a regular basis).

This is not as simple as it sounds. It requires an unfaltering, dedicated effort up and down your marketing chain to avoid going “off message”. Time and time again I have seen small businesses grab logos and typestyles and use them with haphazard abandon on everything from data sheets to PowerPoint presentations. I’ve seen sales people ignore mandates from the home office and routinely put out their own marketing pieces with not a shred of semblance to the carefully crafted look painstakingly created by their own marketing department. The result is always the same – a dilution of the company’s identity and often a related drop in market share in response to the lack of an effective, unified marketing message. That, in turn, requires a needless squandering of precious marketing resources to reestablish the company’s former brand awareness in the marketplace.

It doesn’t have to be that way! A little discipline and a lot of vigilance can head off these potential image drainers and nip them in the bud before they become a real problem. By paying attention to continuity, your company can reap a multitude of benefits:

  • heightened market visibility
  • enviable awareness among potential customers
  • more effective use of your marketing budget, yielding the biggest bang for your buck.

Overall, a keen eye toward continuity helps you achieve levels of image and branding efficiency unavailable to practitioners of hit-or-miss marketing with little or no image consistency between messages and media.

It starts with your corporate identity.
I never cease to be amazed at how casually some companies treat their identity. There’s no shortage of firms that use two, three, even four versions of their logo on a regular basis, with no particular rhyme or reason. The same goes for corporate colors – often a victim of one or more employee’s personal taste (“I HATE that color, I’m going to use green instead…I think it looks better”). This dilution of image is made even easier by the proliferation of PowerPoint and other tools used by more and more employees. If this is happening to your company, I have three words of advice: STOP IT. NOW.

The longer this practice is allowed to continue, the more it will cost your company. In time, money, image awareness and, ultimately, in market share.

How do you combat this insidious problem? By establishing company-wide standards and maintaining them. Issue a simple style sheet that everyone can understand and follow and then enforce it. That means establishing a corporate color (or colors), a particular typestyle (especially one that is duplicated in computer fonts) and creating a logo that works well in 4-color (the process colors used by printers to print in full color), 2-color (usually black and a particular shade of a color from the Pantone Matching System, identified by a PMS number), and black and white printing. If you create high and low resolution files in these three versions and make them available to the people most likely to need them, you will go a long way toward unifying your image out in the marketplace.

Follow through with your message.
Now that you’ve got your company “look” under control, it’s time to work on your message. This often starts with a mission statement. Make it meaningful, concise, actionable, and unique. Be ruthless. Is this who we really are? Is this what we really want to be? Does this really set us apart? Once you’ve honed your statement to accurately reflect what your company is and what it stands for, it will enable you to create a meaningful slogan or tagline to be used in your marketing messages. Avoid the trite and contrived. “The Leader in (blank)” has been done before. Trust me.

A good tagline will inform every message that follows. It will help flavor copy written for your sales literature, web site, advertising, even internal messaging. It will make generating consistent, focused text easier because it will help set the tone and form the basis of the message. And that message, aided by the consistent visual combination of logo, color, and typestyle – wielded with ruthless discipline — all combine to create a powerful, memorable marketing impression.

That, my friends, is the power of continuity. Consistency, otherwise known as continuity, is the most potent weapon of great marketing minds.

Need some help with your organization’s brand?
Call Creative Instinct at 501-244-0573 for a free quote on branding, brochures, logos, website design and more. Or, send an email to Gwen Canfield: To see samples of our work, visit

Article written by Jim Schakenbach.

What Role Does Your Logo Play in Your Branding Strategy?

By Laura Lake –
When we speak about branding it’s not uncommon for people to mistake their logo as their “branding.” Your logo is only one piece of your branding strategy. Your company’s logo is a symbol that can provide consumers with instant and powerful brand recognition of your business and the services or products that you offer.

Before beginning the process of logo creation be sure that you have developed your brand strategy. Why? Your logo is like a small ad for your company, without the strategy behind it a logo can put across the wrong message and in return weaken your strategy. You want to keep your brand message consistent to help increase consumer recognition.

How do you know when you are ready to move to the process of having your logo created?

  • The mission of your logo is to portray the values and goals of your company. Make sure that these are clearly established before venturing out to find a logo designer.
  • Be clear about the message you want your brand to convey so that your logo can clearly reflect that message. You must have a strong association between your brand and your logo. Remember it is only one piece of your branding strategy.
  • Your logo should reflect professionalism and growth no matter how small your company is.
  • Make sure that the logo you select is not dated but can be used effectively year after year. Keep in mind it is how consumers will recognize your company.

The conclusion of the role your logo plays in your branding strategy can be summed up in the following statement.

A strong branding strategy uses design to communicate a message that attracts the target audience you want to attract – a message that creates confidence in your brand while differentiating you from your competitors. Does your logo fulfill this mission? If your answer is no it may be time to consider strengthening your brand strategy and looking at a new logo to re-position your company.

Call us now and we’ll build your brand.

When you create a powerful business brand, you’ll attract the clients, projects, and referrals that you want. Deliver your branding message consistently, and your reward will be consistent profit growth.

Call Creative Instinct now at 501-244-0573 for a free quote on branding for your business, including: logos, brochures, website design and more. Or, send an email to Gwen Canfield: To see samples of our work, visit