Interpretive Signs & Displays for Business – Tell Your Story Visually

KPMG indoor sign: wall mural timeline

Interpretive Signs & Displays for Business – Tell Your Story Visually

Traditionally, interpretive signs and interpretive displays are used in heritage interpretation to enhance informal learning at parks, heritage sites, monuments, museums, art galleries, and other public attractions. Interpretive signage often combines history, story, graphics, photography and other visual media as a means of drawing the audience in and making communication and learning interesting.

While most often used in public spaces, interpretive signs also have many benefits for business. Businesses use interpretive signage to market, teach and present, and in environment design.

Sandbox Signs + Graphics has been creating custom interpretive signs for Vancouver and BC businesses since 1994.


Interpretive sign: signage intended to teach or communicate to an audience by combining a variety of media to enhance learning and invite engagement and interaction.

Interpretive display: often a wall mounted installation or series of interpretive signs.

Why Interpretive Signs Work

If teaching is the communication of ideas by a subject-matter expert or authority, then interpretation is a way to facilitate that communication by making a personal connection with the audience. Learning is easier if the student or audience is engaged and can relate to the information being presented. Interpretive signage design distills what might otherwise be considered dry or fact-laden information and presents it in a more compelling, memorable way.

Whether the communication is for a park, or your Vancouver area business, interpretive sign design principles enhance visual communication.

Interpretive Sign Design Principles

In “Designing Interpretive Signs: Principles in Practice” by Roy Ballantyne, Karen Hughes and Gianna Moscardo, Fulcrum Inc, US (20 April 2008), the authors present six principles that are just as applicable when designing interpretive signs and displays for business as they are when designing signs for heritage sites.

Interpretive signs for business should:

  1. Create a personal connection with and be relevant to the audience
  2. Encourage novel and varied experiences
  3. Be clearly organized and easy to follow
  4. Be thematic
  5. Engage and encourage visitors to learn
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the audience

Six principles paraphrased from “Designing Interpretive Signs: Principles in Practice”.

Interpretive sign design guided by these principles results in communication that makes a personal connection with the audience. If signs and displays are self-serving (all about the company) or a sterile relating of facts, figures and information, then the design has failed its audience.

How Businesses Can Use Interpretive Signs & Displays

Business can use interpretive signs or interpretive displays for a multitude of scenarios. Anywhere you’d use more traditional forms of signage or other presentation technology (PowerPoint, slideshows, photography, graphs, charts), you may consider using interpretive signage instead. Interpretive signs for business are often used as part of building or office environment design, in-house marketing, and at events as follows:

  • Building or office entrances
  • Reception areas or waiting rooms
  • Conference or meeting rooms
  • Public education events
  • Sales centres
  • Trade shows
Interpretive sign for fish hatchery public education - created by Sandbox Signs

An interpretive display created by Sandbox Signs + Graphics for a fish hatchery. The display teaches visiting public about the different species of fish released by the hatchery each year. The wall display uses five “floating” interpretive signs and three informational “callouts”. The information is clear, organized, thematic and invites engagement.

Receive a Free Interpretive Sign Design Consultation

If your Vancouver or BC business is considering interpretive signs, you’ll be in expert hands with Sandbox Signs. Receive a free interpretive sign design consultation and estimate. We’ll discuss your organization’s goals and work with you and your team to create an interpretive signage solution that tells your story.