Event Graphics Trends to Watch in 2016
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From big trade shows with hundreds of booths to small but critical meetings with big clients or the media, events of all shapes and sizes have one thing in common: the need for great graphics.
And what was “great” several years ago may not be what is trending at today’s best events. For example, social media has changed the way event attendees interact with event graphics. And the largest generation of consumers—millennials—are rewriting the rules for how companies interact with potential customers. In fact, the Event Industry 2015 Trend Report says that the best events of the future will “drench” attendees, saturating all five senses:
“The event…will drench attendees. It will make them feel they own the space and the content being presented. The role of technology will be crucial in facilitating this incredibly immersive experience,” says the report.
This all adds up to big changes in event graphics. Read on to learn what is trending and the products and designs that can help every business keep up.
Audience engagement is chief among the expectations of millennial consumers. Millennials want to feel like they are part of a conversation. And that conversation cannot be one-sided. They need to be given the option to have a voice.
The simplest way to help millennials take part in a conversation is through social media. Today’s event signage and banners often bear the event’s hashtag, so guests can follow the conversation and engage with other attendees. For example, Image360—Marina del Ray was recently hired to prepare the public spaces of the JW Marriott in advance of the prominent ESPY Awards. Because the hotel was located adjacent to the award ceremony location, ESPN—the producers of the ESPY Awards—wanted the hotel lobby branded with ESPY décor. And chief among the décor elements were vinyl-cut window decals of event hashtags.
Another innovative way to use social media to foster guest interaction at events is through a live stream Twitter wall. This is fairly simple to implement, thanks to programs like Tweetwally. The Twitter wall displays in real time what your event attendees are tweeting and has the effect of amplifying the person-to-person conversations that are happening throughout the event and giving them a public stage.
Event graphics can also engage by delivering on another expectation of the millennial consumer: providing the “wow factor.” Image360 delivered this for JW Marriott by creating a two-story ESPY trophy banner as the focal point by the hotel’s grand staircase. Its scale and prominent placement made it a memorable element of the event’s suite of graphics.
The winds of what is fashionable for the design of event graphics are fickle. Whereas just 10 years ago, the mantra was “more is more,” today’s event graphic designers largely embrace simplicity and clean lines. But that does not mean that graphic designers are off the hook for packing their booths and event signage with plenty of information and clear brand identity.
For example, Image360—Boca Raton recently collaborated with PepsiCo. to create a 20’ x 20’ custom convention booth. The booth included many components: a bar area, display cases, places for guests to rest their drinks and several TV’s. But despite the booth’s complex requirements, the final product was eye-catching and utilized a simple design to ensure the space did not feel cluttered. Rather, the booth felt fresh, welcoming and current—very in line with Pepsi’s brand identity.
The abundance of new technologies available to event designers is as exciting as it is overwhelming.
For example, one game-changer that is relatively new on the scene of event graphics is projection mapping. This delivers an impressive “wow factor” by projecting images on any multidimensional form. Any object can become a display, creating dazzling, 3D effects.
QR codes were a cool gimmick a few years ago that have now made it to mainstream. By providing codes on all signage, event designers can deepen guests’ engagement with signage elements. Even something as straightforward as wayfinding signage becomes an interactive experience when it bears a QR code.
While it can be easy to get caught up in the latest technology, it’s important to remember it should enhance, not distract from, the guest’s experience. For example, when livestream Twitter walls first came on the scene, event designers displayed them behind or onstage with presenters. This had the effect of distracting attendees from the presenter’s message, rather than enhancing the presentation.
So how does the savvy event signage designer apply these trends—engagement, a clean design aesthetic and technology—to the signage products available? By remembering the Event Industry 2015 Trend Report’s catchword: “drench.” All signage solutions should combine to create an immersive experience that drenches each attendee’s five senses. And thanks to the extension that social media and web applications provides, the “drenching” can take place before, during and after the event.
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