A Productive Rant About Trade Show Banners

A Productive Rant About Trade Show Banners

We get it. A trade show banner is an extremely useful tool for displaying your brand and attracting customers to your trade show booth. When used effectively, a trade show banner can enhance your booth design and make it stand out. However, we don’t like (and trust us – we see this all the time) poorly considered banner designs that let down the booth display, the organization, and the potential visitors. Every time we see a banner like this, an angel loses its wings.

The whole point of trade shows and expos is to increase your customer base and show off your brand in its best light. If you’ve got a bad banner design, then you may as well stay at home. If a banner’s job is to send a message loud and clear, a bad banner sends a message loud and unclear.


How do you know if your banner is bad?

We understand that banner design is subjective to some extent. Not everyone is going to like your brand colors or graphics. But there’s a difference between truly bad design and something that isn’t to an individual’s taste.

We see some classic banner mistakes over and over again. If you’re not sure whether or not your banner is bad, use this checklist to find out:

  • Your banner has too much text. Trust us: anything beyond your business name and two or three key points is too much text.
  • Your graphics are low resolution. If you have grainy or blurred images, then you are a victim of low-resolution graphics. They may have looked good on a computer screen, but it’s time to face the fact that they didn’t blow up well.
  • You forgot the grommets. Grommets are reinforced holes that allow you to hang your banner properly. If you’re only just learning what grommets are, we’re sorry, but you can’t hang your banner properly.
  • The banner is too big or too small for the booth space. Hopefully, this is self-explanatory.
  • You forgot to put your social media handles on the banner. It happens. The important thing is to find a solution, not to pretend it didn’t happen. And avoid making the same mistake in the future.
  • You’re using the banner as a tablecloth. Tablecloths are for covering tables. Banners are for attracting visitors and communicating your key messages.
  • The DIY graphics look like someone’s kid has been let loose with a set of paints. Sometimes you need an independent third-party to give you advice about this one. But DIY banners generally look like DIY banners. Even if a banner is not bad for a DIY job, is that really the impression they want visitors to have?
  • The fonts are too small or too fancy to read. If your banner is too cool to communicate, you need a new banner.


What to do if you have a bad banner

If your banner commits any of the sins above, then it’s time to ditch it and get yourself a new one. Banner creation is best left to the professionals and we’re not just saying that because we’re the professionals. Pro banners are relatively inexpensive to have made considering their effectiveness, and a good quality banner will last you through multiple trade shows and beyond.

Before you call a professional, think about what you want to get out of your banner. What does it need to do? What message does it need to convey? Write all of this information down.

Additionally, you should consider including this key information on your banner:

  • Your business name/logo
  • Social media handles
  • Other contact info


If you require other text, such as information about your business or product features, narrow this information down to no more than two or three concise key points.


Keep the design under control

Using Photoshop to create birthday party invitations doesn’t make someone an expert banner designer. Graphics programs can take years to master. So does graphic design.

If your banner needs to display graphics other than your company logo, it’s best to have someone experienced design it for you. While thinking about how you want the banner to look, keep in mind that less is generally more. Ensure that you:

  • consider your brand colors or booth color theme.
  • think about how readable the text will be when overlaid on top of any images or colors.
  • use clear, uncomplicated fonts.
  • keep things simple and uncluttered.


Consider where the banner will be displayed

There are many different banner designs for specific purposes. Some are free-standing and some are designed to be hung on a wall or from the ceiling. It’s vital to consider your booth space and the available area for banners.

If you have a large booth, a free-standing banner can look great, but will crowd a smaller space. Smaller booths benefit from having hanging banners. The important point to make is that you should not end up having a banner created that’s too large or small for the space in which it’s going to be displayed. Thinking about the banner but forgetting the booth is a common mistake that you are not going to make.

For hanging banners, never forget the grommets. These reinforced holes will stand up to the wear and tear of multiple trade shows. DIY holes will not only look bad, but they’ll also tear the banner.

Finally, if you don’t have a table cover, go out and buy one, because banners used as tablecloths look messy and unprofessional, as if booth design was an afterthought. Bad booth design reflects on your business as a whole, so please make sure you have proper table coverings and let your banners be banners.


We hope our little rant has been productive. Having had so many years in the business, we see these trade show errors over and over again. Please save us and yourself from bad banner design.

Consign ineffective trade show banners to where they belong – the trash. Treat your business to a professional, beautifully designed trade show banner and boost your business’ professionalism, appearance, authority, and traffic.