Trade show banners: How to use humour to guide your attendees

Trade show banners: How to use humour to guide your attendeesBlam! Zap! Pow! I went to the recent Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) to check out what’s hot in the comic universe (especially for my personal favourite, Marvel). Quite a cast of characters (both featured guests and attendees) were wandering the floor. And C2E2 started the show even before attendees entered the expo with some interesting trade show banners.

I love it when I can go to a trade show or event as an attendee instead of as an exhibitor, sponsor or presenter. It’s eye opening to see things from an attendee perspective.

Upon entering McCormick Place West, the skyway was lined with overhead banners every few feet that were teasers for what attendees would see on the show floor. For example, for Star Wars fans, there was “Have you hugged a Stormtropper today?” And because the trek through the skyway is quite a jaunt, other signs said things such as “Don’t give up! You’re almost there.” Seeing these signs gave me a bit of a chuckle, but more importantly, let me know I was heading in the right direction for the expo.

When you finally arrived at the expo area, there was a GIANT (yes, I put that in all caps for emphasis) trade show banner to welcome attendees. The banner spanned the hallway and was maybe 15 to 20 feet tall.

So how can you inject a little humour into your event trade show banners and help out your attendees at the same time?

  • Are we there yet? Sometimes the journey just to get to a conference, expo or event in a convention hall is a major trek spanning city blocks. As they did at C2E2, acknowledge that it is a long way and update attendees on their progress. Signs such as “We’re just across the sky bridge” or “Prepare to be amazed in five minutes” help attendees understand where they’re located. For exceptionally long treks, placing these signs at several locations along the way helps, especially in the maze of some convention halls.
  • The inside joke. Though others might get it because of the film’s popularity, the Star Wars “stormtrooper” sign was definitely aimed at the film’s fans. Are there common “inside jokes” in your industry that might give your attendees a smile while on the way in to your event? Do not use anything obscene or totally esoteric (I used that word purposely) so no one gets it. Just something light and fun.
  • Wow! At the final destination where your attendees enter your event, make it an impressive welcome they won’t forget. At C2E2, it was a larger than life trade show banner – just like the superheroes featured at the expo. But it doesn’t have to be a banner. At a recent tropical themed fundraiser done by a nonprofit I work with, we used giant 10 foot or so palm tree balloon sculptures. Be creative!


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