Building from the Ground Up

How do you design a company that doesn’t exist?

How do you create a vision that endures?

How do you attract customers you don’t even have?

How do you define success?

These were some of the questions we had for the founders at the inception of The National Bank of Indianapolis. Of course when we started working with them, they didn’t yet have a name.

What they did have was relevant banking experience, over 150 years of combined local experience, along with a vision of providing an extremely high level of personalized service to professionals and executives, closely-held businesses and nonprofit organizations. They also had a solid business plan and had recruited well-known and successful businessmen and women to serve on their board of directors. Even with that great foundation, there was a lot of hard work ahead, from regulatory approvals, investors, real estate, technology, and creating an executive team. After all, what else can you expect when you build from the ground up?

The planning started in February 1993 with cousins who had ties to the banking industry. The Bank’s Chairman, local businessman Michael S. (Mickey) Maurer, was already a successful entrepreneur. An attorney and owner of the Indianapolis Business Journal and MyStar Communications, Mickey used his business acumen and connections to forge relationships with companies tired of the old ways of banking. President and CEO Morris L. (Morrie) Maurer came from 18 years of direct experience in the banking industry, bringing financial expertise along with a concept of exceptional customer service, not to mention a vision of what the Bank could be. Joining this winning team were Philip B. Roby, another highly experienced banker, and a group of 17 additional bankers with multiple years of experience in various banking roles.   

Together, they forged the idea of creating a local community bank, one that focused on superior client service, active engagement in the local Indianapolis community, and one that was not bound by the constraints of the large national institutions and the whims of Wall Street. The idea was that all clients would be recognized, welcomed and served in a professional manner. This culture was engrained in every employee hired by the Bank.

The National Bank of Indianapolis opened for business on December 23, 1993. Today, The National Bank of Indianapolis has grown to be the 11th largest bank in Indiana with approximately $2B in assets, providing banking and investment management services for more than 23,000 account relationships.

In 1993, Brenner Design worked closely with Morrie Maurer to create the first physical space that reflected their values and goals, which would be critical in attracting clients. The corporate offices were designed to be inviting, not staid, while competent and accomplished. Materials like the signature green granite, cherry wood and limestone were selected to reflect a sense of permanence and success. As the Bank developed, marketing materials like logos and signage all tied to the overall design vision. 

Brenner Design and CSO Architects worked in tandem on the design of the first freestanding banking center. The plan is based on a Louis Sullivan-style of bank building (Brenner’s concept), with central banking lobby, teller line and client service areas flanking the sides. The building shell reflects the old-style banking image with faux limestone, gold-toned windows and doors, and the signature green diamond logo. The Bank strictly maintains the image of the original banking center, making small interior improvements over time. Even the exterior signage and the landscape design serves to reinforce the brand; the building design itself is branded and copyrighted. Consistency in design was extremely important and is evident throughout the Bank system.

That first collaboration proved fruitful, and the Bank’s branded image is a hallmark to their overall success. Today there are over 13 locations throughout central Indiana, and Brenner Design acts as the “keeper of the brand” on every location. “Brenner Design has become a trusted advisor on design and facility issues,” said Morrie Maurer.

The downtown flagship building, where they have been located since the beginning, is currently undergoing an exterior façade change to better reflect the Bank’s image. The façade of the first two floors is to be completely re-faced, and the existing upper aggregate panels will be cleaned and re-coated. New improvements include a new stainless steel entry canopy, light sconces, verde granite-faced columns, decorative medallions and replacement of spandrel glass with a durable faux limestone material. A new blade sign will be installed at the corner of the building, and an interior Bank logo sign will be installed above the entry canopy.

Brenner Design worked closely with Morrie Maurer to transform an otherwise non-descript façade from the 1970s to an attractive icon for this successful institution. “Employees and clients alike are excited about the changes and are anxious to see the final result of the facelift,” said Ann Merkel,  Senior Vice President and Chief Market Development Officer. We’re proud to partner with this outstanding local banking institution, working with them to create a trusted entity from the ground up.

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