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Making an exhibition of yourself

Making an exhibition of yourself

I have just returned from the Caffè Culture exhibition at Olympia and I am struck by the varying levels of quality stands, graphics, sales teams and presentation tools. Staying positive I am delighted to say that it was a really worthwhile visit and never at any point was I offered a logo bug or a spiral cut paper baseball cap.

The stands that really stood out succeeded because they had one really strong idea executed well, what we at The House call a single-minded proposition. From the graphically simple but striking Caravan Coffee Traders and Perry Court Farm (see images on Flickr) through to the playful approach of teapigs and Peppersmith; one idea seen through, consistently – easy to understand and a joy to the eye.

Conversely a number of stands were overstuffed with product and messages each one fighting to grab attention but actually only serving to confuse. One or two suffered from a lack of well thought through design or brand identity – in today’s market where consumers love graphic design and swoon over cleverly creative packaging, then kitchen table cut-outs just won’t cut it.

A couple of highlights for effective communication on offer and reasons to buy or believe included the Fair Trade stand and, again, the guys at Peppersmith.

The Fair Trade stand used shelf strips, wobblers and dividers to share insights into consumer buying habits, evidence of growing support for Fair Trade products and even statistics on monthly consumption; all of which left me in no doubt as to why I should buy into the brand and leaving me to discuss my needs in detail with the stand team.

Not only is the Peppersmith product a knockout but the identity, story and packaging all deliver a refreshing look at the mint market. I really believed in the selling story, the determination to use natural ingredients and have fun at the same time. Sincerely charming, deliciously minting and a sales team determined to promote their brands via the independent retail network because Peppersmith know the taste is more important than the price.

For me the biggest missed opportunity was the lack of film or motion graphics to capture the imagination or tell the brand story more dynamically than flat images or sales literature – with access to affordable technology and hungry young film-makers I wanted to see more adventure.

We will post images on site and Flickr but if you get the chance to go to the show, the coffee is top drawer and the exhibitors a credit to their industry.

So finally, my tips for if you want to stand out from the crowds – one story executed well, a team on the stand who believe in what you do and can articulate why, pull out your key sales arguments into your display and consider the use of film or animation to grab attention and tell your story better.