6 Trade Show Lighting Do’s and Don’ts

On the trade show floor, the right lighting can make the difference between a good first impression and a bad one. An off-color tone or a dim environment may be off-putting to attendees, while a cozy and warm, colorfully lit booth serves as a welcoming invitation to learn more.

To catch attendees’ attention and make your messages pop, Cliff Couvillon, creative thinker at Nimlok Louisiana, suggests keeping these trade show lighting do’s and don’ts in mind.


DO: Try Backlighting

Couvillon says one of the biggest trade show lighting trends is backlighting, the technique of placing lights behind a fabric panel or inside signage or frames to light those materials. Backlighting is becoming more popular because it draws attention to fabric graphics, 3D logos and more.


Part of the lure of backlighting is that it’s a simple technique for any exhibitor to incorporate and it provides a big payoff. For example, Couvillon says, “We add subtly changing LED lights to a counter at the front of clients’ booths and it makes a dramatic difference in catching the eye of passersby.”

DO: Use LED Stem Lights

You’ve likely seen metal-arm light fixtures attached to the top of a booth panel or graphic at trade shows. These wall washer lights also known as stem lights have been a trade show mainstay. However, most of these lights use halogen bulbs, which generate a lot of heat and frequently degrade the paint and graphics they’re designed to illuminate.

LED stem lights example

Couvillon says companies are making the switch from halogens to LED strip lights. “These are better for lighting exhibits because they maintain a cooler temp, don’t draw as much power and last longer.”

DO: Invest in Lighting for the Long Term

There’s a common perception that LED trade show lights tend to be slightly more expensive when you’re first purchasing them.

As Couvillon explains, “If you use a less expensive fluorescent light bar or light strip, you might still achieve your desired light effect. But that kind of lighting doesn’t give you the clarity or long product life that LED lighting does.”

You can achieve long-term savings by investing in energy-efficient LED lights. Plus, LEDs last up to 25 times longer than incandescent lighting, so the longer product life will save you on replacement costs.

LED trade show booth lighting example

DO: Set the Right Color Tone

Selecting the right color tone for your trade show lights goes a long way to support and enhance your brand image.

Incandescent lights tend to throw yellow-hued lighting, which can soften details or alter colors. With their wide range of color temperatures, LEDs offer greater flexibility to choose a tone that matches the mood you’re trying to create.

For example, cool, white, bright LED lights more accurately portray true colors. “Like daylight, bright white trade show LED lights keep text or graphics sharp and make the details pop in a booth to make it visually appealing,” Couvillon says.

DON’T: Go Overboard with Color-Changing Lights

Couvillon says he is starting to see color-changing lights used behind 3D logos, monitors and reception counters. He cautions not to get carried away and add color-changing lights on everything or make it too colorful.

“The effect should be subtle slow changes or fades are a powerful way to draw attention to key areas you’d like to focus on, like a reception counter.”

DON’T: Forget the Importance of Creating an Experience

One last key tip Couvillon offers is to design trade show lighting to match the experience you’re trying to create in the booth. “It’s less about putting all your bullet points on a wall and more about helping attendees have a positive, memorable experience in your booth, and using lighting to complement that experience.”

trade show experience lighting example

To make your trade show booth lighting a ‘do,’ contact us for help selecting and designing the right lighting products for your exhibit.

About HitLights

HitLights delivers LED lighting solutions for event exhibits, displays, signs, theater and film productions, and manufacturing. CEO Bin Yu formed the company through the Louisiana State University Business Incubator Program in 2010. Since then HitLights has grown to become a major player the LED industry. Customers come to HitLights for quality products, helpful customer service and creative solutions.

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