‘Less is more’ is a standard guiding principle in graphic design circles, and it’s a belief that lies at the core of all great advertising and marketing.

At trade shows, where visitors spend three to five seconds sizing up a company’s message, graphic designers frequently apply the ‘less is more’ principle to ensure that messages reflect a company’s brand and deliver maximum impact.

The next time you visit a business or a consumer trade show, try this: select three or four of the best exhibits and determine what makes each one stand out. It could be the striking use of a bold image or the clever positioning of text against a neutral background. It’s likely that the best exhibits utilized the ‘less is more’ principle to allow messages to resonate with visitors.

Whether it’s a kiosk, a retail display or a trade show exhibit, graphic design is an essential component of how a company conveys its message. An experienced graphic designer knows intuitively how text, images, colours, lighting, backdrops and environments work together to create harmony and, more importantly, a desired effect.

With certain branded environments, graphic design decisions are often dictated by the industry. Some industries (cosmetics and software) often use elegant images and fonts to create certain impressions, while other industries (automotive and home improvement) will rely heavily on stunning visuals to highlight specific products or services.

Since visitors’ attention spans at trade shows are limited to a few seconds at best, it’s important that graphic designers choose the components carefully and employ them wisely, and sparingly, to increase brand awareness. A single poor decision (the wrong colour for a backdrop, too many words on a banner) can throw an entire exhibit of whack and can lead to indifference on the part of the viewer, which is the kiss of death in the display business.

Experienced graphic designers understand the importance of making the right decisions, such as choosing the precise words, fonts, text size, images, colours and surfaces. In the graphic designer’s mind, all of these components must complement each other for maximum impact.

Ever noticed, for instance, how at trade shows, exhibitors’ names or messages are often positioned higher than waist level? A highly placed message will command more attention than a message that’s positioned at eye level or lower. Or how creative use of white space can say more than an interface that is overflowing with images and text?

When it comes to creating a branded environment (i.e., trade show exhibit, interactive display, cosmetic interior), make sure that you choose a graphic designer who has an impressive track record of design work, a designer who understands the principle that less is more, and who will work with you to achieve your marketing goals.

Choosing the right graphic designer may be the most important marketing decision you make.