After a year-long hiatus due to COVID-19, in-person trade shows began in Vegas back in June, with more shows in more cities planned for this fall.

That’s why, earlier this summer, Spire launched the first blog post of our three-part series on trade shows. Our first installment discussed the importance of pre-planning your trade show presence and outlined some helpful dates and to-do items to take into consideration. Now, onward to Part 2—let’s talk booth layout and design.

Every year, $24 billion is spent by U.S. exhibitors for trade show displays. At a typical show, you’ll see booths that run the gamut in terms of design. On trade show days, make sure you’re taking the time to note what your competitors are doing. How are you going to differentiate your company from theirs? Think of a trade show as a giant recon mission to gather intel on the players in your space.

Rent or own?

Before you do anything, decide how many shows you plan to attend in a year. If it’s only one, it makes more sense financially to rent versus purchase your booth. But if you’re planning on hitting more than two trade show events in a year, it makes more sense to design and purchase your own booth.

Find a reputable logistics company that can help you review potential layouts to determine what works best for your needs. If you’re purchasing, you’ll have more layout flexibility than if you’re choosing an “off the rack” option. Either way, you’ll need the specs for your booth before you can design its components.

What is your selling space?

As you work out your booth layout, think through what your prospects need to best hear your brand message.

  • Do you need private areas or lounge space?
  • Will you be giving demos, and do you need a video screen? If you’re giving multiple demos, the stations should become the driver of your booth flow, so that needs to be thought out in advance.
  • What about storage space? Do you have a solution for storing gift items and personal belongings?

And because we’ve all spent a day on the trade show floor and know what a beating it can be on your feet, here’s one more pro tip: When submitting your exhibitor forms, always spring for the plush carpet pad—your prospects will appreciate it and so will your employees.

As you design your booth, remember simplicity is preferred. The booth is not supposed to sell everything, it’s meant to simply draw interest and give very high-level messaging. Think about the main audience for the shows you plan to attend and make 100% sure your booth messaging ties in with that audience.

What is the one point you want to drive home to the attendees of that show?

How is your branding?

Larger booths may provide options to work in supporting message points. For instance, if you have a booth with panels, you could add some secondary and tertiary layers of messaging. But in general, it’s important to remember that you can’t say it all. Be selective. Keep your messaging simple and mostly at eye-level. Let your people take it from there.

Review your booth’s branding and logo placement from three separate vantage points: the front entrance, as you walk up the aisles, and when you’re right in front of the booth. You don’t want to logo your booth to death, but you do want to consider line-of-sight to make sure your brand is visible and recognizable from multiple vantage points.

Lastly, make sure your booth looks like your brand. This sounds simple but you’d be surprised how many companies design booths that don’t provide continuity with the rest of their branding. Whether you’re driving attendees to your website or to a specific product page of your site, make sure you’ve considered how your booth is reflective of your overall brand.

Have you previewed the booth?

Once your new booth’s layout and design have been finalized, your trade show fulfillment company will print, fabricate, and assemble the pieces. Weeks before you plan to attend your first show, you should have a scheduled booth preview with both your design team and your fulfillment team to review the booth in full and make sure nothing needs tweaking.

In our third and final blog in this series, we’ll cover all the details on what to do day-of, as well as the all-important follow-up. Look for it soon.

Kimberly Tyner is Partner / Owner and Chief Creative Officer at Spire Agency. To stay up to date on Spire news, awards, and blog posts, subscribe to our newsletter.


For our client TrinityRail, we used huge digital panels and animation to create a moment that people would remember. The booth design spoke to their forward-thinking and innovation in the rail industry.


For Texas Capital Bank, we needed a warm and welcoming space for our customer to connect to their prospects and clients. The booth design highlighted their “Texas Capitalism” manifesto through striking graphics and a video component to highlight their ad campaign and testimonials from existing customers.


Our client Kr8om wanted to create a unique trade show experience that would allow them to connect with potential customers while unveiling their updated brand look and feel. Their new booth did just that, with a bold color scheme, unique leaf pattern graphics, and a custom test tube display, which provided an in-person comparison of Kr8om’s product quality against the competition.