Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Mock-up; From an idea to a booth

Happy 2015!
I decided not to wait another 2 years before my next blog posting, :-)
I have been asked over and over again - Nadine, how do you come up with fresh booth ideas for smaller companies who don't want to spend a gazillion bucks and who want an awesome booth but with a relatively quick set up and tear down.
Here it is, my (now) not so secret process.
I start with A LOT of thought, much is pretty straight forward, but each case is always a little different. I think about the product that is being sold, how it will be sold at retail, who I want to sell it to, and, what type of a setting suits the product. I go through the obvious list of what the exhibiting company has or has not already done in terms of a booth pre- Nadine.
Do they have a catalog? great photography? full on branding? or maybe things are a little scattered look-wise, maybe we want to make the look more cohesive and pardon the expression "on brand" (ugh). So many questions, but SO important to know before you start to mock things up.
...How big is the booth? (usually my client's booths are between a 10x10 and 10x15), how many products do we need to show? do we want to do a lot of repeat? ie: 12 of each item? if there are only a few items in the line, or, is the line vast and the booth space limited?

Now, what about style? Visual inspiration.
The line could be gorgeous dainty jewelry, but how am I going to get buyers out of the aisle and into this booth to take the time to look at the gorgeous dainty jewelry, when there's a daiquiri machine a few booths down and a clown and puppies? (not quite, but almost)

Does my client's line have great style already? or does it need to find its look? Is there something in the line that can inspire the entire look of the booth, maybe a great photo in their catalog that can get the ball rolling?... How extravagant can I get with this booth? What's the budget? Can we ship in 10ft antique armoires?, yeah, didn't think so.

I happen to think in images, I can build a booth in my head first, literally swapping out fixtures, paint colors and signage with my eyes closed, lying in bed. Odd? probably, but it's how I roll.  Funny thing is, when I was doing my own booths, I rarely did any kinds of visual mock-ups, I imagined my booths and simply made lists. (When I look back on it, I probably would have saved some time by mocking it up after imagining it, but too late now). Most of my clients are not into the whole imagining thing, understandably, they want to see it, or something very close to it, before they show up in the booth, so I create mock-ups, and that is what we are going to talk about today.

I am going to take the initial launch of the lovely Eleven Point - Fragrance Merchants line, this past summer. Before we did anything in terms of a trade show for his newest brand, David (the owner) wanted to see something that he could really sink his teeth into, all the pretty words and descriptions weren't going to cut it, he wanted visuals. Here is what the very first mock-up looked like.

A little background, the line is inspired by nature, the fragrances, memories and experiences David and his family had growing up on the Eleven Point River. The initial launch would show 6 different fragrances in 6 different product categories (white glass vessel candle, black glass vessel candle, reed diffuser, room mist, travel tin candle and fragrant sachet). The line was designed to coordinate in rustic or modern settings, for women or for men. To have a lived-in comfortable, relaxed look with sophistication and elegance, focusing on the amazing fragrances of the line; River Fern, Bonfire, Cotton Creek, Honeysuckle Rain, Coconut Moon (my favorite) and Blackberry.

Charcoal painted walls with the box pattern as wallpaper down each wall, gold wall sconces, signage like the brand's packaging, two perfectly weathered leather club chairs, one large wooden wall shelf, large nested table set and weathered wooden floors. I knew this was simply a jumping off point to get things moving along, it might not all be feasible, but we needed a start. Also, when starting with a mock-up like this, you can really walk through a few orders in your head and really think about what you need in your booth in terms of supplies and what you need to show in terms of product. And yes, it's a wholesale show and buyers know how to buy, but buyers are also regular people who shop too, so I like to think about what I like, what attracts me to a store, how I like to shop.

It just so happened that before doing the Eleven Point booth, reps and showrooms were hired, so we quickly switched things up for the limited space of a showroom. Here are the mock-ups.

Dallas showroom, approximately 8 feet of wall and approx 6 feet of floor. 
Here's the Mock -up
in progress
end result (very bad photo/color)
Las Vegas showroom, 8 feet of wall with about 10 feet of floor.
Wait, what now? I can have ceiling electricity?... we can do this.

They might have a table we can use? it's rectangular? okey dokey.

result (excuse the photo quality, it's all they sent me!)
 Atlanta - variation on the same theme, again with a round table

You are getting the idea now, right?
For technical info, I use Adobe Illustrator to create these mock-ups, truth be told, I wish I could use Illustrator for everything, it's amazing. But if you are not into the big guns software, you can certainly use other things, or even draw it out, or make your life a little simpler and call us.
(please note that we were NOT present for any of these showroom set-ups, they were done by the showrooms themselves based on our mock-ups, and, they did a great job! This go around of shows, I am getting really detailed about exactly where we want product displayed and on how many samples are sent to each show, you will see that soon, Atlanta is being set up right this second as I type this post :-)

Here are few sources for items that were used in the showrooms - round table in Las Vegas Showroom, battery powered wall sconces were purchased on ebay for all showrooms, custom self-adhesive wallpaper.

Next up, how we tried a few looks before settling on this NY Booth last summer.