Interior Branding: Not Just Another Motivational Poster

Interior Branding: Not Just Another Motivational Poster

Collaboration. Or  “Collab” now,  thanks to Instagram. It may be more of a buzzword that’s thrown around on social media these days, but collaborative problem-solving has always been a key concept in our industry. 

Recently I had the privilege to collaborate on an interior branding project with the engineers and fabricators at our client in Milford, Indiana— Brock. Their marketing department charged us with developing ideas to brand the interior of the building to reflect their corporate parent’s mantra “Leadership through Innovation®.”

I immediately had an idea for this: reflect on how innovative ideas—and solutions to problems—often start on a scrap of paper or a napkin, and grow into something wonderful from some simple doodling.

Part of what had me excited about the concept is Brock is in the business of building grain-handling equipment. Their factory is full of steel and lasers and every kind of metal forming equipment you can imagine. I was barely getting started and already I felt like a kid in a candy store because I had all these great tools, materials, and talent at my disposal.

Because of the breadth of the things Brock makes I got away from trying to illustrate one of their innovative products and instead decided to focus on the word INNOVATE. And so, I dove into taking the individual letters of the word and developing them from concept to completion.

Illustration shows concept behind interior branding project for Brock Grain Systems.

The initial concept was presented to Brock as a Photoshop file layering lots of stock images to create each letter. While the word portrayed was INNOVATE, I also wanted the graphic to scream PRECISION. Once the concept was approved, the collaboration between what I had created in two dimensions and what I needed Brock to create in three dimensions began.

Image of cardboard "N" used as part of an interior branding project for Brock Grain Systems. The series of transitional events goes something like this:

  1. Someone grabs a pencil and quickly sketches an “I” on the back of a napkin. (Side Note: the napkin is a Dairy Queen napkin, a company also owned by Brock’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway.)
  2. The first “N” gets flushed out a bit on the napkin but eventually ends up in a drafting form on grid paper.
  3. Wanting something 3D, the creator decides to make a model out of cardboard. As part of the process, it is discovered that the corrugated cardboard actually has a hexagon core.
  4. This paper core becomes the motivation for a structural honeycomb encapsulated by a rigid shell. It is at this point that I hand the baton off to the Brock team. I created the first three letters, and they did the rest. The “O” is an intricate 3D print that they created from my simple line art.
  5. Now that the internal structure is determined, the attention turns to the face of the letters. The “V” represents the raw material that the “A” is cut out of. The two elements visually fit together like puzzle pieces. The “A” begins to explore color and the beginnings of a drill pattern.
  6. The beveled steel “T” has a red anodized finish and a complete series of patented Brock bolts attached to a black 3D-printed base.
  7. And finally, the “E” is a throwback to the cardboard “N” showing both the core and the shell in its fully developed form.
  8. The all-brass plumb bob dovetails nicely into the “V” and a set of red crosshairs round out the push for precision. Originally the crosshair was going to be a set of laser lines projected onto the wall but that just got too complicated.
  9. Copywriter Jack Zumwalt found the perfect quote, and long-time agri-illustrator Kermit Solheim gets it all in the category of what Brock does…Grain!


Image interior branding project for Brock Grain Systems.


It took some time to coordinate all the elements, but in the end, Brock’s INNOVATE wall graphic is the typographic piece that I am most proud of in my four decades of design work. I got to install it with my son, Tim, which made the project just that much more special. A special thanks to Brock’s Vice President and General Manager Jack Stambaugh and Marketing Director Larry Cripe for the opportunity to do this work. And to Adam Gutwein and Mark Dingeldein for all their engineering and fabrication work and coordination. Collaborative problem-solving was key in bringing this project to life.

The best part about the finished work is that it lives on the wall in a staircase landing. And each day the people of Brock that tread those stairs are invited or maybe commanded to do just one thing—INNOVATE. It communicates Brock’s message of “Leadership through Innovation” in a striking display.

What is the message you would like to convey within your establishment to both your employees and those that come into your environment? What problem do you need to solve to make it happen? Whether you have an idea for interior branding jotted on a napkin—or you don’t know where to start—we can help. Contact us today and let’s get sketching.


Jeff Westrom is JWM’s Co-Founder, Co-Owner, President of Creative Services, and designer of historical displays and groan-worthy puns. 

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