ILLUSTRATION: MARK FISHER
What variety of messaging options can I integrate into my exhibit flooring?
An integral part of your overall exhibit design, flooring can improve the look, feel, and flow of the space. In fact, given its aesthetic possibilities, many industry experts often refer to flooring as the fifth wall of an exhibit. Plus, flooring can provide a highly visible canvas upon which to promote a brand or marketing message. You can use logos, text, and graphics to deliver a message in myriad locales, such as at the entrance of your booth, in strategic locations throughout the exhibit, in a border around the space, and even across the entire floor. So if you plan to employ the power of flooring to communicate, you have a number of mediums from which to choose.
Advances in printed vinyl flooring, for example, have opened up a variety of solutions for adding stunning, detailed graphics and messaging to your exhibit. These newly evolved printing processes can add messaging with great color saturation and image detail, and vinyl flooring is convenient because it rolls up for easy transport and storage. Plus, some flooring providers can print images up to 10 feet wide by an almost unlimited length. As such, you can create a custom floor for your entire exhibit space, or use vinyl flooring as an inlay with other mediums to draw attention to key messages and areas. With proper handling and care, most vinyl options can be used again and again, making them a cost-effective exhibit-flooring choice for many companies.
Dye-sublimated carpet, in which the ink is imbedded into the carpet fibers, is another popular messaging option due in part to the availability of detailed printing and deep color saturation. Transparent dyes allow for true, solid, color gradients; plus, carpet is available in dramatic custom shapes, which can be used alone or integrated into other mediums. In addition, dye-sublimated carpet is durable and tends to maintain its appearance even in an exhibit's high-traffic environments.
Along these same lines, infusion-dyed carpet is the most durable printed-flooring option available, but it typically doesn't provide highly detailed images. In addition, it has a longer production time than printed vinyl and dye-sublimated carpet, and the colors aren't quite as vivid. That said, it's often an excellent option for permanent or long-term installation.
Carpet inlays are yet another messaging medium, one that offers the underfoot comfort of carpet but that can also add an upscale feel to a space. Inlays can be created in nearly any size or complexity and can feature text, logos, and much more. You can inlay different colors or styles of carpet, but combining different types of flooring products has also become a popular and eye-catching solution. For example, you can inlay carpet with printed, rollable-vinyl flooring, turf, and more to add graphics and messaging. Exhibitors often opt for inlays made with materials that tie into the brand's positioning, such as hardwood flooring for a company with a natural or Green focus, or turf for an outdoor-products brand.
If you'd like to go the economical ‐ not to mention convenient ‐ route, consider carpet tiles and interlocking foam or hardwood tiles. These mediums can easily be customized with text; plus, many snap together, making them simple to transport, install, reposition, dismantle, and reuse. With some options, printed graphics are placed on the tiles and protected by an acrylic cover, so by lifting up the cover and then the graphics, you can easily update messaging from show to show. In addition, some snap-together options feature dramatic backlighting, allowing exhibitors to put certain graphics in the figurative spotlight.
For those with a limited budget or who want a super simple solution, stand-alone floor mats can help you highlight a logo or brand message. Installation involves simply dropping the mats into whatever location you desire (perhaps at a main entrance to your booth, in front of a reception desk, or near a key product-demo area), and mats can be placed directly on the concrete or atop existing exhibit flooring. When the show is over, they can be easily reused in corporate lobbies or office spaces.
Finally, there's the nonflooring flooring option. That is, you can also apply graphics directly to the concrete floor of your exhibit space, a method similar to the floor graphics you see in some retail stores. Very inexpensive and simple to install, graphics attached to convention-center concrete can only be used one time; however, similar graphics can also be applied to hard-surface flooring, such as wood or laminate, which can then be reused. This effect turns practically any hard surface into a messaging medium, allowing you to also draw foot traffic to key areas of your exhibit.
Clearly, then, the fifth wall of your exhibit space can function as yet be another effective message-delivery vehicle. Using everything from carpet inlays to vinyl graphics, you can turn your underfoot space into a conversation starter.
— Dave Walens, president, Brumark Total Flooring Solutions, an Exploring Inc. company, Atlanta