We all know that exhibiting takes strategy. What’s more is that exhibiting at a trade show with a portfolio of brands takes even more framework development.
Often, we find companies on a show floor exhibiting with multiple brands and the spaces look unorganized, unstructured, and unclear of what they are striving to accomplish. Most of the time, this is due to a lack of a strategic framework that was not completed in the planning stages, or as we call it, the Define stage, of the process.
There are companies on the show floor that are true category leaders as it relates to exhibiting multiple brands in one booth. Their defined approach showcases their thoughtful brand strategy and helps to achieve their company goals in a stronger way on the show floor. Organizations like General Mills, Pearson’s Candy, and Legrand exhibit their brands with methodology and clarity.
When we are approached by a company to help them with their brand activation, and they carry a portfolio of brands, we help them determine how to showcase all their companies in the best way to achieve success.
First, we understand the goal of exhibiting at the show; a crucial element to define so that business goals are achieved.
Next, we outline who the target audience is of the exact show that the client is planning to attend. If a client doesn’t understand their audience on the show floor, they can’t best position themselves to their audience.
From there, we begin to decide, from the perspective of the target audience, what’s most relevant to them, the individual brands within the company or the company itself? This is the linchpin for how to showcase the company and its brands. For example, General Mills is excellent at knowing their approach for each show. Some brand activations, it’s more important to showcase Annie’s Homegrown, Larabar, Cascadian Farms Organic, etc. And other trade shows, it’s more important for the name General Mills to be front and center. We call this prioritization and alignment, brand hierarchy.
A client’s brand hierarchy should often flow from how the company sells its brands and how the target audience of the company purchases products or services. A trade show is just one of many sales and marketing programs and so the trade show should reflect the overall company and shouldn’t be built-out in a way that is completely different than the everyday actions of the business.
If a client decides that for a specific show they should be showcased as a “house of brands” vs. a “branded house,” we recommend building out answers to the following questions to ensure the booth build-out supports the strategic brand hierarchy.
- Rank the brands in order of importance for the show.
- Do any new products or brands need to be highlighted?
- What percentage of the exhibit should each brand share?
- Can any of the brands be coupled together?
The tactical execution of the exhibit should follow the brand hierarchy – this includes messaging. The cohesive messaging should flow from the brand strategy and drive home the message on the show floor. The messages are the elements of the exhibit that helps to bring people into the space, to learn more, and engage in conversation. It’s crucial to think about the messages after a company has decided which track to take: a branded house or a house of brands. Messages should vary significantly depending on the approach.
There are some great leaders out there on the show floor, and we believe that any company, of any size, can be an example of how to exhibit with a portfolio of brands. If you need help on deciding how to best position your company on the show floor. You know where to find us!