Interview with 2heads, 2020 Finalist


Paul Skinner – Creative Lead

Ryan Simpson – Creative Lead

Craig Wildman – Global Managing Director

What does it mean to you to be a 2020 Finalist in the World Exhibition Stand Awards?

This is a great achievement which everyone connected to 2Heads are very proud of. It shows our true commitment and passion for every brand experience we create for our customers. 2Heads have organically grown over the last 30 years from designing and building award winning exhibits to help creating some very memorable brand experiences and it is a fitting tribute to that evolution to see our work nominated for these awards. – Creative Team

It is a huge honour to be shortlisted for the 2020 WES Awards; the recognition that this nomination brings to both our clients and team is very treasured, particularly during this incredibly challenging time for the global marketing and events sector.

At 2Heads, we have always strived to bring innovation, creativity and excellence in showcasing brands, products and services of some of the world’s leading companies, of whom we are so fortunate to call our partners. We are evermore determined to maintain these high standards as we move forward into an undoubtably new business landscape and are already adopting new ways of working alongside our partners. – Craig Wildman.

What are the big trends in exhibition stand design?

It was Oscar Wilde who said: ‘Fashion is a form of uglinessso intolerable that we have to alter it every six months’. 

Whether you agree or agree to disagree, BIG trends in our view are the ones that stand the test of time and change behaviours and actions of our clients and customers.

At 2Heads we say the demand for brand experience is always changing not due to our client’s desires but due to the desires of their end users. Experiential and ‘live’ is now an option for both B2C and B2B brands, and the need for a more engaging and meaningful experience is the gateway to success for brands in staying relevant and connected to their customer/fan base:

  1. DIGITAL IMMERSION – Being more personal and emotive and less linear in delivery, there is a growing need to engage the ‘WHY’ in a more tailored experience. To quote Dave Trott ‘the message is in the medium,’ however the delivery and digital immersion into the ‘WHY’ is what elevates the experience.
  1. QUANTIFIABLE ANALYTICS – Netflix track shows by measuring ‘starters,’ ‘watchers,’ and ‘completers’ and much, much more …The demand to measure interactions through quantifiable analytics is key to understanding and driving brand success. For clients, this data is now pivotal in making informed decisions and allows a greater understanding of what ROI looks like for them.
  1. SUSTAINABILITY – ‘Behind the scenes’ in an industry full of air miles and raw materials, sustainable actions are becoming more dominate in the approach of a design and its implementation. ‘Front of house’ sustainability is helping to guide new technologies, materials and digital approaches within the wider experience. Leading brands are only just starting to tackle some of the biggest issues our generation faces with ethical creation.
  1. THE NEW AND DIFFERENT ‘WOW’ – The demand for experience is changing with this growing appetite for ‘WOW’. Brands are fuelled to think differently, reacting in real time and creating new and memorable moments that continually drive ideas, product developments, services and culture into communities rather than relying on a singular event. These communities then become the ‘live’ echo of the brand’s culture.

What has been the best innovation of the past 5 years?

It is easy to reel off a list of technical innovation; virtual and augmented reality, volumetric filming, 3D Printing, and Mexican murals that help us breathe easier by cleaning up air pollution. All of these innovations (possibly not the last) are taking an ever-stronger position with the experiential environment and marketing world.

BUT the truly great innovation over the past 5 years in our opinion is the changing up of working practice to allow TIME. With brands now providing creative lead time to find problems to be solved, we have been able to craft some truly innovative moments out of the challenges that brands face engaging their end user.

New ‘innovations’ are hard fought. So the time to evolve an idea and deliver an action with the intention to stress test and break ideas apart is critical to innovation. This process of ‘Re-design and Re-build’ creativity ‘live and with scale’ is helping to solve the biggest undiscovered problems in honest partnership with clients and customers. 

What are clients currently asking for in stand and experience design?

‘The WOW Factor’

After the initial conversations have been reasoned out with our client services team and we get down to creative business, 2Heads clients are asking for a wider and deeper connection with their customers and more meaningful ‘WOW’ ways to stand out and impart their stories.

Our clients are showing a greater desire to connect their brand ‘virtually and virally,’ and are asking for design solutions with an opportunity for ongoing growth and value. Increasingly, we are supporting our clients in developing their position in their industry and ‘tone of voice’ within the experiential context. This ‘virtual and viral’ connection often needs to be agile to create links between physical experience and keep the conversation and brand culture alive.

2Heads have been working across a range of creative mediums with our clients to provide a clear strategical vision that will hold lasting and emotional connections with their markets, customers and individuals. That’s how we are creating the ‘WOW’ for our clients; by engineering a moment, memory and experience that goes beyond the physical architectural presence of a brand’s product and/or services.

7) What do you expect the next 5 years will hold for exhibition stand design?

The next 5 years we forecast our clients will be more cautious with their budgets and make sustainability the first thing the write on a brief.

There will be a more focus on modular design for cost savings and brand consistency in reaction to end-user’s evolved economic status.

Overall, we believe the current climate will make brands smarter; they will want more value from their agencies, data tracking from their events and will look to take less risks.

Digital will become the essential tool in creating success for our customers, using such tools as our Eventhive meeting app and platform ( which has over 3 years development lead time behind it to run virtual events, branded online conferences and to help forecast the spaces required for a successful brand experience. This alone will bring event efficiency to our industry.

Do exhibitions get the status they deserve versus other marketing channels?

Probably not as some marketing managers may see tradeshows as being a bit ‘old school’ and it’s all about digital and online to them, especially as that’s how 95% of the world respond to each other these days.

From a B2B perspective however, they are the seed to their industry and a chance to get a glimpse of what brands are creating before they make it to the public. The exhibition world has already evolved out of sight over the last 5 years with more digital involvement and social media interactions, and will continue to do so, which may bring them the attention they deserve. Certainly, brands are becoming a lot more savvy in bringing their physical creations online also so to have two bites of the cherry whilst increasing their online presence.

If you could change one thing about the world of exhibitions what would it be?

As a creative, the pitch process! Having some fairer guidelines of how many agencies can submit and seeing the process as consultative which allows an agency to really create a meaningful submission. Workshopping a brand’s objective has proven very useful with some of our larger brands and we would encourage over clients to engage with their agency on a strategy level to maximise output through the pitch process.

Does stand size matter?

It certainly does when it comes to the big events where some brands rely on scale, oversized screens and front of show positioning as they all jostle to be seen and make their mark. However, size does not have to matter. It is great to find start-up brands at an event with a great product and the personal touch that speaks to you. You never know when you are about to come across the next big thing! So overall, size doesn’t matter, but the way the product connects with its user does.