Can you relate to the following scenario?
You are in a shop on some faceless high street, having searched high and low for some highly tasteful enrichment. From your fruitless search in apparently all the other stockists in a five mile area, you now have a hot lead that the cherished desirable is lurking in this, hopefully your final retail destination. Frustratingly, despite a methodological and ordered search that would have qualified for the label ‘forensic’, you still cannot locate the elusive prize. In desperation you seek out a sales assistant and enquire; “Excuse me. Do you know where I might find a faux- moleskin whatnot?” “Oh I’m sorry!” comes the embarrassed reply, “I don’t work here!” “No, no! I’m sorry for thinking you did!” “No, no! I’m the one who should be sorry for making you think that I did. . .” And so it goes on, nauseatingly awkward for all concerned. Well why does this happen? Because the spotty overweight unit should not have worn a navy blue skirt and white striped blouse that bore more than a passing resemblance to the army of similarly clad pimpled and corpulent clones that worked in the same shop!

So what’s all this to do with exhibiting? The answer is more than might meet the eye (or should that be assault the eye?) One question that I am regularly asked is whether exhibitors should wear a ‘uniform’ – not the peaked cap and gold braid type, but whether they should have the same ‘look’. The answer is a resounding yes. If you have decided that all stand personnel should wear a suit, then everyone should wear a suit. If your corporate colours are dark blue, then it should be a dark blue suit with a white shirt / blouse for everyone. Not bluish or black but dark blue – ideally the same pantone number to boot! And if shirts / blouses are to be white, then they should be white and not striped or flecked with white or grey. If the image is casual then everyone should be in matching trousers / skirts and tops. That also extends to wearing your exhibitor badge on your lapel. The key is for your visitors to be able to identify whether you work and belong on the stand or whether you are a visitor. If the hapless visitor is unsure of whether you work on the stand or are as they are, a visitor, they risk the same embarrassing and awkward situation as described earlier in the retail example. Rather than risk such a situation they might choose to come back later (and they either never do or get hijacked by a competitor en route). My only concession to this rule is a seemingly contradictory caveat. If you work with people who do not habitually wear suits, then resist the urge to dress them up in suits especially for the show. This minority of the population have the uncanny ability to thwart your plans and portray the embodiment of someone who doesn’t normally wear a suit who is reluctantly sporting a suit for the show!