A Studio, an Eatery and an 8-Year Client Relationship

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In 1983, Karl and Ursula Selinger opened a cozy restaurant called Old Stein Inn and began serving traditional German cuisine to their local community in Maryland and to all who traveled to dine with them. For years they maintained a beloved gathering place where friends and family could celebrate both German food and culture—and the torch has since been passed to their son, Mike Selinger, and his wife, Beth, who to this day dutifully honor the Old Stein inn tradition of connecting the community.

Most recently, that commitment has manifested in the creation of Drei Brüder, a line of packaged goods made right in the kitchen of Old Stein Inn. “When regular customers started requesting recipes, it seemed like a no-brainer to start selling some of their house-made sauces, jams and pickled vegetables,” says Jennifer Culpepper, owner and creative director of Peppermill Projects.

The Creation of Drei Brüder

Peppermill Projects has been Old Stein Inn’s go-to design studio for the past eight years, so not only is the studio considered part of the restaurant’s family (with perks including sampling all the new menu items—including whatever beer is on the 10th tap) but they’ve come to know the Old Stein Inn brand quite well. This made them the perfect team to take on the branding of Drei Brüder.

“We wanted the 3 Brüder line to stand apart as its own brand, yet be related to the restaurant and recognizable to long-time customers,” Culpepper says. And recognizable it is—after all, Drei Brüder means “three brothers” in German and is named for the owners’ three young sons, Max, Bruno and Sam, who can frequently be seen helping out in the garden attached to both the restaurant and the Selingers’ home.

“Peppermill Projects was able to bring our tradition of family involvement to life through the 3 Brüder branding and design,” Selinger says. “It’s exciting to see our sons become part of the Old Stein history in their own special way.”

work by branding firm Peppermill Projects“By integrating three generations of Old Stein patronage and ownership, we’ve been able to create three distinct logos and brands that fit under one house—a family of logo marks for a family oriented brand,” says Jennifer Culpepper, owner and creative director of Peppermill Projects.

Culpepper says that the team chose a slab serif typeface that matches the Old Stein Inn logo in order to communicate both the rustic and German aspects of the 3 Brüder brand—”a nice contrast to the fine lines in the whimsical tag illustrations,” she adds. The yellow in the logo was adopted from the German flag and also references a logo that was used to celebrate both Oktoberfest and a successful reopening of Old Stein Inn after a debilitating fire. “Without being heavy-handed,” Culpepper says, “this gave the 3 Brüder logo a bit of German flair.”

Since Peppermill Projects has been working with Old Stein, Culpepper says that the restaurant has been featured in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and in 2016 was named one of Open Table’s Best 100 Al Fresco Restaurants. And this year (those of us at HOW are particularly excited to point out) their 3 Brüder logo was recognized in the 8th Annual HOW Logo Design Awards by judge Wally Krantz of Landor New York. With support from HOW editorial staff, Krantz selected the 3 Brüder logo as one of only 20 winners from among nearly 1,200 submissions. 

work by branding firm Peppermill Projects

Peppermill Projects’ Best Branding Advice

A simple scroll through Peppermill Projects’ Instagram is enough to make one curious about their approach to bringing to life strong, beautiful brands, and perhaps what their “secret ingredients” are for the most effective branding.

It seems so simple,” Culpepper says, “but the key to effective branding is sincerely listening to your client. It’s easy to get caught up in your own initial ideas for a client project. However, I encourage my team to walk into our ‘Brand Discovery’ meetings with zero expectations and an open mind. By observing and listening, we’re able to learn as much as possible about our client’s vision for the future of their business.”

And while the team might offer their opinions as brand strategists and designers in one of these Brand Discovery meetings, they know the importance of allowing the brand to develop both “authentically and organically,” Culpepper says. “You can’t force a brand story to resonate with customers—you need that to come from the vision of the entrepreneur. Our Brand Discovery sessions and workshops (which are sometimes like a therapy session) help bring that story to the surface. Discovering the heart of the brand is one of the most exciting, not to mention crucial, parts of the process!”

When it comes to the logo itself, Culpepper says that it’s crucial to see how a logo works in its simplest form, and that’s why they first design their logos in only black and white. “Unless a client requires us to use certain colors, color doesn’t even come into play until the client chooses a logo design option,” she says.

But let’s back up—because before they get to that point, there’s something else the Peppermill Projects team does that’s helped them create award-winning logos. “When we have a logo project, I tell my designers to come back and show me 100 sketches on paper before even going to the computer,” Culpepper says. “It’s important to be rough, go a little crazy and be as creative as possible. You can always pull back and refine some of your wildest ideas. You just need to get them all out on paper first!”

NEW HOW Logo Design Awards Prize!

Two Reader’s Choice winners will be invited to attend the official Speaker Reception at HOW Design Live 2018 in Boston. Past attendees of the exclusive Speaker Reception include Seymour Chwast, Debbie Millman, Chip Kidd, Brian Collins, Kelli Anderson and Jonathan Hoefler!

The 2017 Speaker Reception was hosted by SCAD at O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul, a creative advertising agency located in Chicago’s West Loop. Guests enjoyed beer, wine, hors d’oeuvres—and most of all, each other’s company. (Images courtesy of OKRP.)

Ready to enter, win and plan your trip to Boston in Spring 2018 for some amazing opportunities?

Don’t wait—the HOW Logo Design Awards closes for entries at midnight on Oct. 30!