Wizard World Chicago Comic Con 2013: Big Booth Inspiration for Your Next Trade Show

This summer marked my third attendance at Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. And I have to give props to the Wizard World team because this was definitely the best year yet!

In past years I’ve written about how the con grabs attendees and how small businesses can glean tips from Artist Alley. This year, though, I was really blown away by the booths and displays for big brands. Below are some of the best booths from the show and tips you can take for when you create a display at your next trade show!

Big Dog Ink


Pros: Tall, vertical sign to grab attention; signings from creators

Tips to steal: Conventions are spread out in long, wide rooms. Yet there is plenty of vertical space above your booth that you can use for additional branding opportunities. You don’t need a big display like Big Dog Ink had; even a strategically-placed vertical banner can be enough to grab more attention.

If your company works with creatives like authors or artists, this a perfect opportunity to have them meet fans. But no matter what your brand does, make sure you stock your booth with people knowledgeable about your products and are truly passionate about being there. A bored booth worker means less people will want to stop and chat.


blackberry truck

Pros: Unusual booth design; bold colors

Tips to steal: When customers attend a really large expo they can start to get a bit of booth-blindness. And if your booth looks just like your neighbors, what’s convincing them to stop by and take a look?

It might not be possible to bring in a vehicle, but you can definitely set up your booth with a different configuration from everyone else. Provide a large space for them to browse, put down some carpet, or consider interactive activities. And if you can add a bold color that pops (but doesn’t overpower) you’ll be set.

Stylin Online

stylin online

Pros: Great use of vertical space; huge selection of items

Tips to steal: Give passersby to your booth something to look at. If you only have a single product or flyer on your table, it’s not going to grab as much attention as a selection of the items you sell. This will give visitors to your booth more to look at and a better chance for you to interact with them.

Honestly only promoting one thing? Then keep your booth full with flyers, pamphlets, and promotional items so that potential customers can take information home with them.

National Guard


Pros: Plenty of enthusiastic staff; interactive obstacle course; tall vertical banners

Tips to steal: Planning an activity that fully engages attendees makes them stick around longer, exposes them to more of your brand, and gives you a better chance to collect leads. Inflatable obstacle courses might be a little out of your price range, though. But you can set up small games or quizzes that keep people at your booth. Reward your customers with a cool promo item like an imprinted tote bag for even more brand impressions.

Man of Steel / Norton



Pros: large interactive booth; built-in game; co-branding; smart promo items

Quick description: Inside the Man of Steel/Norton trailer you were handed a smart phone that allowed you to interact with the “City of Metropolis” inside. You scanned Superman symbols and then answered questions about Norton products. At the end everyone got some Norton swag and a digital picture with Superman.

Tips to steal: Okay, I’m well-aware that most small businesses could not afford such an elaborate setup for a trade show. But partnering up with another non-competitor brand allows you to pool resources and create a memorable branding experience. This also allows fans of both brands to come together and learn more about the other brand.

And there you have it: five quick tips from bigger brands on how to make your trade show booth stand out from the masses. Following these tips will help you grab some serious brand exposure!

Did you attend Wizard World Chicago Comic Con this year? Did you see or interact with any of these booths? Have you tried any of these strategies at your own conventions?

Expand Your Brand!

Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on


  1. Wash

    This was the best year for Chicago Comic Con yet! The show floors (an upper and lower level) were logically organized, and the staff/volunteers were informed! This was the first year I’ve been going when I can confidently say all of that. I was able to see nearly everything I wanted to this year (including getting into some crowded panels) and had a blast.

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