Graphic Mill Case Study by Hitachi

We’re thrilled to have received a case study from Carolyn Robins, Marketing Executive at Hitachi, highlighting some of the event solutions we’ve provided over the last year. It’s been a pleasure to work with the team on their exhibition projects, and you can read more about the Hitachi stand at Railtex / Infrarail here. In the meantime, here’s the case study!


Written by Carolyn Robins, Marketing Executive at Hitachi Control Systems Europe Ltd


Introduction

Hitachi Information Control Systems Europe Ltd are a leading provider of software solutions for rail signalling and operations with offices in Wiltshire, Plymouth and Derby.

Working exclusively in rail, the company develop safety and training support solutions and market to a small niche sector of the industry.


Background

To support the business growth and the emergence from lockdown, the company wanted to focus more on their visibility with external stakeholders, and their marketing strategy was developed to include a strong campaign of engagement and included face-to-face events, shows and seminars.


Evaluation

Having worked with Graphic Mill previously, and keen to again work with an independent company local to the Wiltshire head office, Denise Watkins, Head of Sales and Carolyn Robins, Marketing Executive, visited the Graphic Mill offices to discuss their marketing strategy and what tools were available to them and how this would best work with the brand and marketplace.


Solution

Following on from initial discussions, Graphic Mill came up with solution options and designs to ensure Hitachi had solutions for different levels of collaboration.

For smaller shows and events, a pop-up stand was proposed, and a design agreed. The graphics for the stand can be updated and more than one option can be supplied. The stand came with clear instructions and a manual and was easily erected within 15 minutes and take down was half the time! This enabled the show staff to easily set up and be ready for events without delay. The design of the stand was a wave formation meaning the structure could fit into varying spaces and not be limited to set dimensions or space.

For the annual Railtex show (being the largest UK rail event), a custom-made stand was required. Graphic Mill’s design team came up with several options and following further discussions with the Hitachi Team a final design was agreed with the stand split into zones to allow for 2 demonstration areas, storage and a seating area which was open and user friendly. The graphics were adapted from brand imagery and bold colours used to segment the zones.


Recommendation

“The solutions Dan and the Graphic Mill team came up with were a perfect fit for our requirements. We were blown away by the level of detail, professionalism, and adaptability the team showed” said Denise Watkins, Head of Sales at Hitachi. “The final build at Railtex can be stressful but Dan and his team of fitters took it in their stride!  Nothing was too much trouble, and the ideas for final tweaks to make it work where actioned with ease and enthusiasm”.

The Hitachi team have now engaged Graphic Mill to develop banner solutions to complete the display element of their marketing strategy.

5 Best Adobe Illustrator Practices for Exhibition Graphics

When designing a truly outstanding exhibition stand, the most important component is undoubted the graphics that dress the space. They should emanate the life and soul of your brand, and they provide a perfect opportunity to show off your recent photoshoot or brand campaign in large format print. Our experienced design team know the artworking process inside and out, so here’s our 5 best Adobe Illustrator practices for exhibition graphics ✏

Graphic Materials

There are lots of different materials that we use for large scale printing and our team always know the right spec for the task at hand.

In a Shell Scheme, you’ll likely be using rollable vinyl panels with clips. In a Space Only stand, you’ll be using stretch tension fabrics or foamex panel graphics, or both.

We’ll provide you with artwork templates to make your life easier!

To simplify your design process, our team will provide you with Illustrator artwork templates which are created to the exact dimensions and material specifications for your stand. The templates are set up with the correct “bleed”, which is the amount of extra artwork required to avoid white lines on the edges of your print, and are provided in CMYK colour space. It’s worth noting that different materials have different amounts of bleed so make sure that you’re using the templates we send you to ensure top-notch print every time. Typically, panels require 3mm bleed and fabrics need a whopping 50mm.

If your templates have joins (usually in Shell Scheme vinyl), try to avoid text on the join lines.

Graphic line up is usually very good but due to a variety of factors including fabric stretch and printing tolerances, we recommend avoiding text or line artwork over any join lines if possible. By thinking about the details, your artworking will look so much nicer as a result.

Image Resolution

Many designers are now expected to have multi-disciplinary skillsets, often creating for web and print formats. However, designs that look great on web often require some tweaking for print, and the one thing that crops up the most is low image resolution.

When creating artwork for print, our minimum image resolution for large format printing is 75PPI at 100% document scale. This might sound complicated, but thankfully Illustrator has an easy tool for checking image PPI.

You can check the PPI and colour space of the inserted image.

If your PPI is less than 75PPI, you risk low quality and pixelated print. If you have the image in higher resolution, we highly recommend using it as it’s the best way to improve your print. If you don’t have any higher resolution imagery then we suggest upscaling the image in Photoshop. By using the “Remove JPEG Artifacts” Neural Filter before the upscale, you’ll receive better results than you expect. Remember that in most cases, people will be viewing your graphics from over a metre or more away. Although crisp graphics are what we aim for, a little blurriness is much better than pixelated prints.

Another key point is to provide any logos in vector format rather than rasterised. Vector, i.e. the original linework, provides super-crisp print when printed at large scale as the lines are created mathematically rather than set-size pixels.

Image resolution is undoubtedly the most important point on our list of Illustrator practices for exhibition graphics. By using high-resolution imagery and vector logos and text, you can be certain of beautiful stand graphics ✨

Left: vector line-work logo. Right: Rasterised logo. Vector graphics always provide higher quality prints.

Scaling

We may provide your artwork templates in a scaled down size, often 50%, sometimes 25%. This is because Illustrator has limits on the maximum artboard and bleed dimensions, which aren’t high enough for large format printing.

Follow the info panel in our artwork templates.

In the templates, there is a clear info panel detailing the scale of the document and the minimum PPI of imagery at this scale. The artboards are also set up with a “_50%” or “_25%” suffix which is another flag for the scale of the document.

Overprint Fill

Overprint Fill, a lesser known feature in Illustrator, is a way to prevent colour knockout in a piece of artwork. When an object is checked for overprint, it becomes opaque to any colours below – almost like a wash of water colour. This might sound neat but in reality it is a major headache to printers and we recommend avoiding it where possible.

The Overprint Fill checkbox. Beware, once checked, it stays on until you uncheck it! 

Due to the way Illustrator works, there isn’t an easy way to check for objects that have been marked for overprint. Even worse, it’s all too easy to leave the feature checked on, meaning all newly created objects are inadvertently marked. This can lead to disappearing text and objects, and ultimately incorrect print.

Transparency effects such as “Multiply” do the same job without the aggro.

Sending Artwork

You’ve finished your artwork and it’s been signed off – happy days! 😄

The next thing is to get it over to us so we can check it over. The best way to send your artwork is to package the Illustrator file. This compiles all the used “links” including the image files, fonts and editable artwork file into one folder. Often, clients will send through editable and outlined versions of their artwork, with all the text and stroke objects converted to outlines in the latter. Providing artwork in this way allows our pre-flight team to make any tweaks for the printing process.

Once the folder is zipped, you can send it through your preferred file sharing service, Dropbox, WeTransfer, etc. We’ll then do our pre-flight checks and prepare the artwork for production, providing you with a fully branded 3D proof for your final sign-off.

Top 5 New Exhibition Stands 2021

It’s been a shorter season for exhibitors this year but even so, 2021 has been a year full of bustling and vibrant shows. Exhibitors have been keen to catch up with their existing clients and make new leads, so designing eye-catching exhibition stand designs has never been as important. Before we get started on all of the amazing shows for 2022, let’s dive into our top 5 new exhibition stands of 2021.


Hitachi at Railtex / Infrarail, NEC, Birmingham.

An impressive stand for Hitachi at the premier event for the Rail industry, Railtex / Infrarail at the NEC. Showcasing Hitachi’s technology with large screens and demonstration areas, the stand had an open and welcoming space that promoted interaction with show visitors. Large seamless graphics and colour pops of Hitachi Hero red gave the stand a modern feel, and downlighting brought the colours to life.

See our full Hitachi case study.


Nervecentre Exhibition Stand Design

Nervecentre at HETT, ExCel, London.

Exhibiting at HETT this year, Nervecentre wanted to go bigger than ever. With a 4+ metre tall stand and a high level suspended box, their stand created impact throughout the show hall. The space incorporated distinct zones for demonstrations and for meetings, and the walls were branded with gorgeous, seamless fabric graphics.

See our full Nervecentre case study.


lunch! show stands

Proper, Lunch at the ExCel, London.

A huge, attention-grabbing stand for Proper at this year’s Lunch Show, with colourful and vibrant graphics and plenty of product giveaways on display. The stand featured layered and illuminated display walls, a huge branded column, and even high level Proper flags.

See our Lunch! Show 2021 stand recap.


Recare, Naidex at the NEC, Birmingham.

Recare exhibited at Naidex Show at the NEC earlier this year, with the aim of showcasing their range of enablement equipment. Using a huge zoned floor space, a 4 metre tall column and plenty of powerful lighting, the stand was a big success.

See our full Recare case study.


HETT Show Exhibition Stand

Aire Logic, HETT at the ExCel, London.

One of the most distinctive stands of the year, the Aire Logic space at HETT was brimming with character. With the aim of championing the Aire Logic software and pushing the brand, the team were really happy, calling it an “amazing job, Dan understood what we wanted and transferred it into a fantastic stand”.

See our full Aire Logic case study.

That wraps up our top 5 new exhibition stands of 2021, but the creativity doesn’t end there. This season has been full of amazing events and stands, so be sure to check out our Lunch! Show stand recap for more inspiration, or if you’re thinking of exhibiting next year, here’s our top trends for 2022 article.

How Does The Exhibition Stand Design Process Work?

At Graphic Mill, we live and breathe live events. With years of experience, our team know the ins-and-outs of what makes a great exhibition stand. So how does the exhibition design process work and how do we design impactful stands? Let’s take a look.

Concept Stage

We kick off the process with a consultation to discuss the client’s goals for the exhibition, their past experiences, and brand ambitions. Once we have this information, it’s briefed into our design team who get to work on creating a draft design. Usually at this stage a client will provide brand guidelines, or we use assets from the company website.

This is the fun part where the only limit is our imagination! Clients will often have an idea of what they would like included, such as storage or meeting areas, and utilising our experience we add in elements that will enhance the stand and draw in the crowds. We define a working layout and visitor flow for the space.

The designs are created in our 3D modelling software, which we can then generate stand visuals and layout drawings to provide to the client in a presentation pack.

Development Stage

Once the client has reviewed the draft design, our designers make tweaks based on any feedback received. At this stage we also refine the branding and messaging on the stand, either using our in-house design team or providing artwork templates to the client. We further prepare the 3D stand model to ensure everything is ready to go for the production stage.

We then create a final set of photorealistic stand visuals to give a real impression of the stand. We can also create augmented reality (AR) models of the space to experience the stand in a 1:1 scale through a mobile phone. This is then sent through to the client for sign-off before production begins.


HETT Show Exhibition Stand

Production Stage

The final part of the design process, our exhibition stand designers create detailed plans and technical drawings for the production team to make the stand. Every element is considered, from custom woodwork to modular aluminium structure, to ensure the stand installation runs as smoothly as possible on the day. Our stands are pre-built in our facility with oversight from the design team.

10+ Best Exhibition Stand Trends for 2022

With the new year quickly approaching and a fresh season of exhibitions and shows ahead of us, it can be tricky to know what creative direction to take your new trade stand in. Our experienced design team at Graphic Mill are here to help with their top tips for the best exhibition stand trends for 2022.


Environmentally Responsible

With climate change and global warming on the minds of many, it’s more important than ever to create responsible and environmentally-minded exhibition stands. By designing with recyclable materials in mind and building structure with reusable aluminium framework, we ensure that the impact of each of our trade stands is minimal. Many of our clients plan their stands into multiple shows, and by incorporating clever design elements using modular structure, we can further minimise potential waste whilst retaining a fresh layout.


Socialising in Real Life

As people get back in to the office, meeting colleagues and clients in real life has represented a return to normality. Exhibitions provide a fantastic opportunity to socialise, to meet new and existing clients and to get back out to showcase your product. Most of our recent stands have been designed with plenty of space to get more visitors and colleagues on to the stand. We’ve even created stands that convert to a party space for later in the evening, the best way to celebrate a product launch or brand refresh.


Hybrid Interactive Experiences

Combining physical and digital interaction is the next big thing in the exhibitions space, whether that be through photobooths that print photos and upload to social channels, or through a physical counter that links to a page on your website. Engaging experiential content will stick in the minds of your stand visitors, and by linking it to digital, provide a touchpoint back to your brand long after the show. Tony’s Chocolonely at ISM was a masterclass in memorable physical interaction, with many linking to their online anti-slavery petition.


lunch! show stands

Natural Materials

Linking back to the environment, brands are choosing to go with natural materials, such as wood and stone, to deck out their stands. These materials are timeless, can provide a unique looking feature and are often recyclable, meaning they’re win-win. Elements such as real flowers and living panels are also popular and provide both visual and sweet smelling addition that helps draw in the visitors. Our designers think this will be one of the biggest exhibition stand trends of 2022.


Accessible and Inclusive

One of the most important factors when creating a space is that it is accessible to all. Wherever possible, we design our stands with durable aluminium ramp and plenty of space for wheelchair users to get around. We inspect our stands to ensure that the build meets our quality control, meaning no sharp edges or no trip hazards. We also ensure that any features, such as screens, are at optimal heights for viewing.


QR Code and Digital Takeaways

We’ve all been to an exhibition and come home with heaps of leaflets and product brochures, some relevant and some less so. With QR readers on every phone, many brands are opting for digital brochures to reduce environmental impact. We’ve also seen an increase in QR codes on business cards, providing a physical reminder for visitors once they’ve gone home.


lunch! show stands

Less Is More

One of the biggest trends in design right now, the stripping down of unnecessary detail and providing a direct message is proving to be very popular. Within the exhibition space this means vibrant graphics that are often single colours or simple gradients. We’ve seen the amount of text on walls go down dramatically, with many brands opting for a single logo and perhaps key USPs / brief tagline only. This all means that the focus is on the product or service presented by delegates on the stand, creating more meaningful relationships and making the product the hero.


HETT Show Exhibition Stand

Realising the Brand Essence

Having an exhibition stand gives the opportunity to condense a company’s ethos and branding into a concentrated physical space. The best stands reflect the brand and what it stands for. Our recent stand for Aire Logic recreated their office environment to emphasise the human side of the technology business.


Interactive Screens

We’re seeing more and more content for screens with brands eager to promote their offering digitally. Although video content can help to catch the eye, using interactive screens adds an extra level of buzz, providing a platform for games, data capture or product catalogues. Whether integrating an iPad into a podium or mounting a large touchscreen to the wall, screens are one of the best ways to draw in the crowds.


lunch! show stands

Rigging and High Level Branding

There’s no better way for a brand to get their name seen across a busy exhibition hall than high level branding, and the use of rigged branding boxes, up in the hall ceilings, has increased in the last few years. By using vibrant colours like the example for Rude Health above, you can really turn heads.


Exhibition Stand Trends Key Takeaways

That concludes our list of our best exhibition stand trends for 2022, hopefully providing some steer and creative thoughts for your show plan. Here’s the 3 top trends that we think will have the most impact:

  • Consider the environmental impact of your stand, particularly using recyclable materials and modular and reusable structure. Could your giveaway marketing materials be digital only?
  • Hybrid experiences are a must. Combine digital and physical elements for maximum effect.
  • Create a social and fun space, accessible to all show visitors.

If you’re thinking of exhibiting next year, we’d love to work with you. Get in touch today to get the ball rolling with a free design consultation.

Lunch! Show Stand Recap 2021

One of our favourite shows of the year, Lunch! Show 2021 proved to be as busy and as vibrant as ever. With plenty of delicious new food and drink products on the market, Lunch! is the must attend event for anyone in the food-to-go sector.

We work with a variety of brands to design and create their stands for Lunch!, from ambitious new start-ups to established and well-known companies. Here’s a recap of some of the projects we helped to deliver at the show.


Proper Stand

We’ve been working with Proper for many years now and we love their fresh design and unique style. Collaborating with the Proper team, we created this attention-grabbing stand to draw in show visitors, using the brand’s vibrant colours and punchy branding. Featuring a 4 metre tall column, a layered display wall, and plenty of giveaways on the sampling counters, the stand proved popular with the crowds.


The GUTsy Captain Company Stand

We have also had the pleasure of working with The GUTsy Captain Company, alongside with Red Star Brands, in many exhibitions, helping to promote their range of natural fermented drinks. This year, to promote the nautical theme central to their branding, we designed a magnificent boat counter unit for their stand. As well as “wooden” printed and branded graphics, it also included a shaped ship’s hull, tension fabric graphics featuring a ship’s sail and a life-size captain cut-out standee. All combined, the stand was something to remember and drew in the show visitors.


Gimber Stand

A newcomer to exhibiting, upcoming drinks brand Gimber have had an excellent exhibition season, concluding with Taste of London Festive next week. To showcase their exciting new alcohol-free ginger concentrate at Lunch!, we designed their stand to push their branding and display as much of their product as possible. We created a geometric display unit brimming with Gimber bottles and plenty of counter units for sampling. Illumination was important and we incorporated tall spotlight totems to help the stand pop.


lunch! show stands

5th Season Stand

It was fabulous to work with 5th Season on their exhibitions this year, with their punchy branding and playful elements contributing to fun and exciting event spaces. Their stand at Lunch! was jam-packed with interesting features, including a custom-made plinko for the chance to win different prizes, a wooden canopy with suspended snacks and stand-off 3D fruit lining the walls. The combination of colourful graphics and interactive experiences helped make the stand a success.


lunch! show stands

Sparkling Ice + Caffeine / Master of Mixes Stand

Another new client to Graphic Mill, it was a joy to work with Sparkling Ice, alongside with Red Star Brands, on their stand at Lunch!. The space was shared with partner brand Master of Mixes, both of which featured large and impactful backwall graphics, and sampling counters with storage space. The Sparkling Ice zone also had large canopies with bright down lighting, branded product fridges and a comfortable meeting area. The team were really happy with their stand, praising it as “flawlessly executed”.


lunch! show stands

Rude Health Stand

A seasoned veteran of Lunch! Show, we assisted Rude Health with their stand again this year. With a tried-and-tested design, the stand featured a branded box suspended in the hall ceiling, colourful and vibrant graphics and a coffee-making bar counter with illuminated logo. The high-level rigged box provided visibility for the brand across the hall, and the coffee bar was a big hit with show visitors.


lunch! show stands


That wraps up our recap of the Lunch! Show at ExCel London for 2021, one of the best exhibition shows for the food-to-go sectors. If you’re thinking of exhibiting at Lunch! 2022, we’d love to work with you. Get in touch today to get the ball rolling with a free design consultation.