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Custom, Modular & More? Exhibition Stand Style Guide

We often throw around phrases like ‘custom’ and ‘modular’ when discussing exhibition stand styles. So what is the difference? Well here we intend to go back to basics and explore what each approach is and offer some food for thought on choosing the right option for your next event or exhibition. We also share what is different about the way we build our exhibition stands.


Custom Exhibition Stands

These are stands that are broadly designed from scratch, built specifically for a particular brand, business and event. With a custom approach, creativity is central to the design. Clients have the choice of bespoke shapes, graphics and structures to achieve exactly what they want their stand to be, limited only by the space they have booked and the budget they have planned.


The advantages of a custom exhibition stand unsurprisingly hinge around this central creativity. They are unique and undoubtedly offer some of the most-eye-catching event environments for those using them. Designed around the client, they tend to be very ‘on-brand’ as well as being very well tuned in to event needs and objectives. Normally they necessitate full end to end management by a specialist like ourselves, which comes with the further advantage of advice, project management and professional installations…but any good events partner should ensure they are the right fit.


Things to consider about custom exhibition stands also stem from this central creativity – freedom can come with a larger price tag. So too does specialist support and set up. Having items developed from scratch can rapidly eat into a budget, requiring careful planning built around objectives, brand and realistic resources…not just a shopping list of items. Building custom creates fantastic impact, but can also have a more significant environmental toll. If a complete one off, wastage can be high and there are growing calls to consider more renewable and reusable options even in custom approaches, like our recent fully recyclable/reusable exhibition stand build for Aviva.


Considering a custom creation? See some more examples here in our portfolio.


Modular Exhibition Stands

Did you enjoy Lego Tecnik, or K’nex as a kid? Then chances are you’ll have an insight into how a modular exhibition stand system works. There are many many varieties of modular exhibition stand. However they all function similarly by providing a series of component parts and connectors. These form the stand structure. Onto this a variety of accessories and importantly graphics can be affixed to create an exhibition stand. As these systems grow, there is a larger variety of options open to those wishing to use modular kits to build exhibition stands.


The advantages of modular kits rest on their repeated use. With their simpler and quicker assembly also reducing installation costs or mitigating the need for specialist installation support altogether. Across several events, the systems can be economical and also redressed with alternative graphic treatments to add a more targeted element to branding and messaging across audiences. Here at Image, we also offer the bonus of not being tied to one manufacturer or style, meaning your needs are key to choosing the right kit and graphic treatment.


Things to consider with modular kits will of course depend on the type of system used, but as with their shared approach, they share some main limitations. Primarily, there is a potential lack of flexibility. Modular kits function with set sizes, pieces and positions. This means that straying beyond what is prescribed can be complicated if not impossible in some cases. A common example here is height. Most modular systems begin to struggle beyond 3m high, whereas most custom builds reach 4m. So if surrounded by custom spaces, Modular may fall a little short. Equally, when accommodating changing spaces and layouts, buying more and more components for a modular system can quickly rack up similar costs to a custom approach. It’s here that forward planning to carefully consider all possible requirements and space at your events will pay off in deciding on the most appropriate system, or indeed approach altogether.


Might make it Modular? Explore our recent modular projects with Kettle Foods & Barenbrug


A Hybrid Exhibition Stand?


Now, not to make this more complicated, but there is another way. What is it they say about variety and the spice of life? Who doesn’t want to add spice to their events and exhibitions?


Across our 30 eventful years, we’ve devised an approach that combines aspects of both custom and modular styles. Using our experience to determine a core inventory of highly flexible custom-built components, we are able to deliver unique designs that offer on-brand and objective driven spaces, but without the cost and waste of unnecessary single-use builds. Now that’s not to say one sizes fits all, far from it, we fabricate and adapt new architecture and accessories to ensure each client stands out. Yet, we are able to share common structural components, much like in a modular kit, that distribute cost and offer a more renewable custom modular method. So for those who like to have their cake and eat it too....there’s an exhibition stand for you!


Whichever method you choose, it’s important to consider exactly what you, your business and your brand need to achieve. What are your objectives? What is your budget? What’s the longer term plan? These questions will help guide your choice and ultimately help you find an exhibition stand that is right for you. This has and will always remain our aim. So regardless of space, size, style or budget, rest assured we can offer advice and services to support your events success.


Getting started in exhibiting? Be sure to visit our Top Ten Event Marketing & Exhibiting Tips


Want to discus your upcoming events or specific ideas and approaches - get in touch for a chat today!