Home > Business, Creative, Examples > Do You Want A Ribbon or a Hat?

Do You Want A Ribbon or a Hat?

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A few months ago, a client of ours told me that she would like to have a 20×20 exhibit designed for her client. One of the major keys to a successful exhibit solution is to get our design department involved directly. They contacted her and proceeded to review the budget and tactical needs along with the strategic requirements of the booth.

In order to aid in this process and to get a feel for what type of style and look the end-user liked, our client was asked to show her client a few 20×20 examples of our pre-designed and engineered Panoramic® kits that are on our website. The design department also used our creative brief to review detailed requirements for the display.

In the end, our client wanted to present multi-view renderings along with a design rationale to the end-user. Those of you in design realize that this is a lot of work. When our designer provided an estimate for the required services, our client was surprised at the cost associated with this process. This reminded me of a tale I heard many years ago.

Category Icon TestThe story goes that there was a rich socialite in Paris who needed a hat urgently for an important occasion. Her milliner (that’s a hat-maker) arrived at her apartment and within twenty minutes had created an amazing and beautiful new hat from a single strand of ribbon. The socialite was enthralled and asked the milliner the fee. The milliner replied “One thousand Francs”. The socialite gasped, “But that’s too much money for a piece of ribbon!” The milliner unpinned the ribbon and handed it to her, “Madam the ribbon is free, it’s the ‘know-how’ that you’re paying for”.

About 15 years ago, several modular exhibit manufacturers started to provide cookie-cutter exhibit design for “free” and now many clients within our industry expect free design. The problem with this approach is that the result is often a beautiful exhibit that has no relation to the end-user’s product, marketing objectives or the need of the sales process.

Our design department has a lot of know-how and is always there to assist you anyway they can. Their fees for exhibit and graphic design, along with detailed presentation renderings, are extremely fair and reasonable. When you want to tap into their expertise, ask yourself if you are looking for a ribbon or a hat?


About the Author

Rich Fava is an Account Executive at Optima Graphics.
He has spent his career in the graphics world since earning his Design degree and in Trade Show since the early 90s.

  1. Jim B
    September 26, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Hey Rich, nice thought but everyone in the exhibit industry knows the custom houses will give the design away free to get the client… The cost is usually bundled into the cost of the booth so most of the clients expect free or low cost design regardless of the expertise involved, Large exhibit programs being the exception. One of the main reasons designers don’t get the respect they desire… their services are being given away. Just a thought. Jim B.

  2. September 26, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Great article. Thanks for the reminder! I couldn’t agree with you more. Even though we offer a design to the end user for “free,” by past experience with other vendors helps me understand why you need to charge for your time. If we hired an independent exhibit designer to draw it up, they would charge for their time also. Personally I would rather pay the design fee to those who are intimately familiar with how the exhibit will be constructed!

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