Creating Winning Exhibits with Darren Pasdernick

Welcome to our new feature, Design Talk. In this series, we’ll get to know a different member of the GES design team each month. This month, we sat down with Darren Pasdernick, Executive Creative Director at GES. Darren has nearly 20 years of design experience for event marketing/exhibit companies.

In the client kickoff meetings, what are the must-ask questions that drive the creative process?

Do you want an evolution or a revolution? In other words, do you want us to just discard what you’ve done in the past, evolve from where you are or introduce a paradigm shift? Then we ask what a client has done before that has been successful and unsuccessful. There are times when a client has a program that’s been really working for them, and everything’s going well, and they don’t want to break that. Last, but certainly not least, we need to know budget. If we don’t have a budget, we tend to design to “pie-in-the-sky” and that, typically, breaks the bank.

At what point in the design process do you start concepting and planning AV and other high-tech activations?

Immediately. Exhibits are all about engagement and immersing a client in your brand. The architecture is there to support those experiences. These days there’s a lot of intelligence from the beginning about what the client’s objectives are. How do we best achieve those…with AR, VR, a cool video wall, a tactile solution, or a beautiful booth? We want to people to be interact, engage, and fully experience the brand... not just passively walk by.

When you watch attendees enter an exhibit or a "big reveal" event, what do you look for as a sign that the design is a success?

Jaws on the ground. You can tell just by studying people’s actions if they’re really engaged. A lot of times that comes from face-to-face engagement. That human connection is extremely important.

It takes a village to create large-scale experiential projects, what are some things you and your team does to stay organized and on-schedule?

Establish timelines when you start a project and try and stick to them. Figure out the scope of work and adhere to it. In a pinch, divide and conquer. Add more talent if necessary. A great thing about GES is our vast network of resources including our international teams as well.

How do ensure that the end result is in line with initial strategy?

Measurement and communication. If you do it right, you create your objectives and refer to them, post-show, to make sure you were on target. Sometimes we don’t get a lot of that feedback about what worked and what didn’t. Sitting down with a client for a post-mortem communication is also critical – both for us and the client.

To create a holistic brand experience, what are your favorite questions to ask a client about their brand vision?

“What do you want your target audience to feel after experiencing your brand?”

“Who are you now and who do you want to be 10 years from now?”

“What do you love about your brand and what do you want to improve?”

“If your brand was a song what would it be?”

Don't miss the next installment of Design Talk. And when you're ready to start designing your next exhibit or brand activation, give us a call... we'll help you make it an experience your audience won't forget!

About the Author

Amy Kelley

Amy is the Global Digital Content Marketing Editor at GES. With a strong background in content marketing, social media, and communications, she is a passionate writer and self-confessed word geek. She is also the founder of a non-profit and a health and wellness online community.

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