A Brief Guide To Briefing

Mathew Hance

If it’s been a while since you commissioned an exhibition stand or if you’re a first-timer, here are some pointers to keep you on track.

For many marketeers, it could have been well over a year since they last briefed for an exhibition stand design and there will be many others who will be looking seriously at exhibitions for the first time. Once you’ve made the commitment to exhibit at an event, you need to think hard about the execution and how to maximise the chances of meeting all your business objectives.

Exhibiting is, by definition, a high-profile activity. Your stand will become the focal point of your efforts – so you need to allocate time to plan how it looks and functions, and to ensure you have the tools in place to support your sales team. The following will help you focus on the most important aspects.   

Find the right partner

There are three basic approaches to commissioning a stand. You can engage an independent stand designer, a creative agency, or a specialist design and build company.

Identifying and recruiting the right creative team is a critical decision and you might be surprised by how many newbie commissioners just Google ‘design agency’ and hope for the best. We suggest a better way is to get recommendations from trusted sources.  

ESSA is the trade body representing the very best suppliers of goods and services to the events industry and a useful tool to help you create a shortlist of companies to audition.

Write an effective exhibition stand brief

Once you have made your selection, communicating your specific needs to your stand-design partner is all-important. Writing a well-founded and coherent design brief will increase the chances of establishing a presence that best executes your exhibition strategy.

The clearer the instructions, the fewer will be the iterations between yourself and your partner company – although some toing and froing is inevitable and essential.

Some questions you will need to consider include:

  • What are your key objectives and who are your target attendees?
  • What specifically do you want to achieve at the exhibition? This might be raising brand awareness, driving direct sales, making contacts for long-term strategic sales etc.
  • Will you be launching a new product or service at the show?
  • Will you have a visitor experience or other on-stand activity?

Other essential background information you’ll need to supply in the brief should include details of your company history, its marketplace, mission and vision, and a link to your corporate website.

Be location savvy

Consider usage and relocation. Is your stand to be used at just one show or do you intend to use the same stand across multiple events. CDI World, for example, has offices across the world which means if you are exhibiting both in the UK and overseas, you can work with a single trusted supplier and reuse the same stand in multiple locations.

Use the expertise of the designer to explore how the stand could be resized or adapted to different orientations or spaces. Also, think about the location of your stand within the event venue and any internal exhibition hall features that may have an impact on visitors, such as catering outlets, theatres and entrances.

Drive the detail

There are always more design requirements to incorporate than you may have first thought. Here’s a list covering the most common.

  • What health protection measures for visitors and staff need to be built into the stand? Your exhibition stand design partner should always have the latest information.    
  • What space have you selected for your exhibition stand. For example, is it open on one, two, three or four sides?
  • What sort of on-stand capabilities do you need? You might want basics such as display cabinets, literature racks and audio-visual screens or may need facilities for on-stand hospitality. Bear in mind that these choices will affect the power, water, internet and waste requirements.
  • What branding, advertising and marketing materials will be showcased and are there any campaign specifics to which the stand should be linked?

Produce a strong finish

You should aim to finish the brief with a short conclusion that includes timelines, pre-event expectations and ETAs for visuals. This will tell your creative partner exactly what it is you must receive from the workflow and by what date.

Finally, stay in touch! Regular communication and close co-operation with your partner will always deliver the best results.


To make the briefing process even simpler for you, we’ve gathered together 30 years of intricate exhibition stand design and build experience into a comprehensive briefing guide which you can download here.  

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