So, when I hit the road for a client show, as I did recently for the National Apartment Association, I always look forward to the “coming to life” of the above-mentioned glorious print pieces. And, the event didn’t disappoint. The experience started from the moment I stepped off the plane. From airport signage and city banners, to backdrops for (famous!) speakers, directional signage and endless swag, it was amazing to see thousands of attendees interact and get so pumped about the experience we helped design.

A new lens

This time, I was also coming from the perspective of my new role as lead of the creative department. The event would be a great opportunity to experience our creative and be inspired for the next campaign, but also to bring back intel on new and fresh ideas for tradeshow marketing and tying together content and design.

Once onsite, I allowed myself to immerse in the content and to look under new rocks for inspiration, not limited to design, but for management and a holistic creative approach as well.

I got what I was looking from closing keynoter, Afdhel Aziz. Aziz, co-author of the book, Good is the New Cool, explained, “We are at a crossroads: either we can try to prop up the old, broken marketing model, or we can create a new model, one that is fit for the unique challenges of today.” Aziz is laser-focused on watching how progressive brands have figured out “how to use a combination of ‘commerce, culture, and conscience’ to create brands with passionately loyal followings.”

His message was a simple one, but it really resonated with me.

The takeaway that brands need to learn how to infuse social responsibility into their identity in order to stay relevant in today’s landscape was powerful. People want to know they are investing in a brand that cares and gives back in a genuine way. It was also a good reminder that marketing is always evolving, and that our message needs to resonate beyond the immediate call to action.

The takeaways

Experiencing a trade show, as a designer, from an attendee point of view always helps fine-tune my perspective. Our client shows are 3-dimensional events, from registration to live engagement to break down. It’s a timely experience that focuses an industry, and its stakeholders, in the themes and thought leadership of the day.

Speakers like Aziz affirmed how effective marketing goes well beyond a single beautifully executed tactic. A campaign is most successful when it touches on emotions, transforms and inspires action.

Attending our clients’ trade shows gives me the chance to experience the “product” as fully as an industry insider and use that vision to design more thoughtfully.

Simple ideas. But we have to come out from behind our desks to live them.

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