Category: Design

Cows are in at the Inn: Madonna Inn to host CowParade launch

Opening weekend events include artist & sponsor reception, 101-Cow Roundup

San Luis Obispo, CA – Madonna Inn is the latest sponsor to join the CowParade SLO County Herd, pledging support for three beautiful bovines and offering its event space for September’s opening weekend festivities.


Phyllis Madonna

Phyllis Madonna poses with a CowParade cow during a promotional photo shoot at Madonna Inn.

Before all 101 fiberglass cows – magically transformed by local artists – are put out to pasture in public spaces throughout SLO County, event staff will roundup the herd for an exhibit launch at Madonna Meadows. Artists and sponsors will have the first chance to view all 101 cows at a VIP reception Friday, September 16. The public is invited to witness the display and even see one sponsor’s cow live-painted on Saturday, September 17 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Food trucks, beer and wine for sale, live music, and the Harmony Town Ice Cream Truck will be on hand for this one-time chance to see all the cows in one place.


The following week, 101 colorful cows will be placed to be seen “grazing” in public places throughout the county. Sponsored by local businesses, organizations and individuals, the herd will become the talk of the town – seen by an estimated 500,000 visitors and residents – before the entire stock is roped in and driven to a gala charity auction in May 2017.


Auction proceeds benefit The Land Conservancy of SLO County, ARTS Obispo, and the California Mid-State Fair Heritage Foundation, along with sponsor designated charities of their choice. Proceeds from Madonna Inn’s cows will benefit the Cuesta College Rodeo Club and Women’s Shelter of SLO.


“We’re thrilled to be among the famous destinations who have hosted CowParade, and we felt Madonna Inn just had to be part of it,” said Clint Pearce, Madonna Enterprise President. “The combination of art and agricultural education makes this exhibit a perfect fit for SLO County and for Madonna Inn.”


In addition to sponsorship, Madonna Inn matriarch Phyllis Madonna showed her supported for CowParade SLO County early on by displaying her singing chops in one of several local “celebrity” videos promoting the event. Watch the videos here.


After the first CowParade launched in Chicago in 1999, CowParade events have been held in 79 cities worldwide, including London, Tokyo, Mexico City and Milan. Auction proceeds since 1999 now total more than $30 million.


Check out more about CowParade SLO at Limited cow sponsorships are still available. Please contact Heather Hellman at


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San Luis Obispo Firm BCA Brings Home Six American Advertising Awards

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIF. – After winning top marketing honors from the prestigious California Office of Tourism Poppy Awards, Barnett Cox & Associates (BCA) followed up with another substantial tourism achievement, taking Best of Show at the American Advertising Awards for Coastal California. The gold award for video is one of six honors BCA received from the American Advertising Awards (formerly the ADDYs), the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition.


The video, created for the City of San Luis Obispo’s tourism campaign, combines spectacular visuals with a custom music score to showcase the appeal of visiting the city. Local indie rock band Moonshiner Collective appears in the video, performing original music that captures the spirit of “The Happiest City in America.” Robin Chilton, owner of Peregrine Media Group, shot and edited the video, which can be seen on the main page at


“In a beautiful, cinematic way, the video highlights what makes the community special – everything from the wildly popular Farmers’ Market and stunning peaks to the Cal Poly marching band and the San Luis Obispo Symphony,” said Dave Cox, co-owner of BCA.


The video for the tourism campaign, funded and overseen by the City of San Luis Obispo’s Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID), was part of a complete branding makeover, featuring new logos, print and digital advertising and social media. In February, the Visit California Poppy Awards recognized BCA’s work on the campaign, presenting BCA and its digital partner StudioGood with the best overall marketing award.


“We were happy to let others in on what locals already know – that San Luis Obispo is a wonderful place to visit,” Cox said. “And knowing how important tourism is to the city’s vitality, we were honored to promote it.”


While the campaign brought awards to BCA, it brought dollars to the city: San Luis Obispo’s hotels saw a 12.3% increase in transient occupancy tax and huge boosts in other key indicators over first 12 months of the program.


Other distinctions BCA earned in the awards competition include:

•              Silver for SLO County Farmers’ Market Association associated campaign

•              Silver for 40 Prado Homeless Center capital campaign video

•              Silver for SESLOC Federal Credit Union TV commercials

•              Bronze for Andre, Morris & Buttery website

•              Bronze for Adamski, Moroski, Madden, Cumberland & Green LLP website

Gold winners move on to compete against winners from throughout Southern California and Southern Nevada for the right to advance to the national finals.


BCA, a full-service marketing and public relations firm, is owned by longtime San Luis Obispo residents Dave and Maggie Cox. Learn more and follow BCA at,, and

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CowParade SLO Seeks High School Students to Join the Moooooooovement

Harmony, CA – CowParade SLO County wants creative high school students to join the herd and participate in the world’s most successful public art event!

After the first CowParade launched in Chicago in 1999, CowParade events have been held in 79 cities worldwide, including London, Tokyo, Mexico City and Milan. Now the colorful cattle drive has been led to San Luis Obispo County, raising money for ARTs Obispo, the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County and The California Mid-State Fair Heritage Foundation.

By fall, 101 beautiful bovines – fiberglass cows magically transformed by local artists – will be seen “grazing” in public places throughout San Luis Obispo County. Sponsored by local businesses and individuals, the herd will become the talk of the town – seen by an estimated 500,000 people – before the entire stock is roped in and driven to a gala auction in May, 2017.

While local artists are being chosen to decorate the life-sized hefty heifers, CowParade SLO is reaching out to each of the county’s high schools to paint “mini-moos” – Labrador-sized cows that will benefit art programs at the schools. CowParade SLO will donate blank sculptures to each school that wants to participate.

Art departments and their students will have two cow templates to choose from – one grazing and another standing with its head up. High schools will have until September to create their bovine for CowParade SLO. During the May gala, the cows will be auctioned off, and the proceeds from student-designed cows will benefit each school’s arts program.

It’s a great way to rustle up enthusiasm for the arts while raising money for schools. Interested SLO County high schools should contact Tom Halen at

Check out more about CowParade SLO at


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Leadership San Luis Obispo Creates Community Impact for San Luis Obispo County

September 3, 2015, San Luis Obispo, CA – Many elected officials, CEOs, philanthropists, chairs and board members of nonprofit organizations, and volunteers across San Luis Obispo County share one thing in common: they are alumni of the Leadership SLO program.

Each year, 36 individuals from the private, public, nonprofit, education and agricultural sectors are selected in a highly competitive application process to participate in 10 months of experiential learning, community immersion and dialogue and personal leadership skill development. Founded in 1991 by former San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce CEO Dave Garth, the program was launched to invest in and cultivate current and future community leaders.

A first-ever community impact survey of Leadership SLO alumni demonstrates that the program is working.

“We’ve been telling our stories for 24 years, and now we have the metrics to prove our community impact,” Leadership SLO Executive Director Sandi Sigurdson said.

Funded by a grant from the Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County the survey generated compelling results. Among the findings, which were compiled in three infographics by Barnett Cox and Associates: (

  • 75 percent of Leadership alumni volunteer for nonprofit organizations on a regular basis.
  • 68 percent serve or have served as board chair for those nonprofits.
  • 23 percent have been or are currently appointed to a government board, task force or commission.
  • 37 percent of alumni increased their charitable contributions since completing the program.

“My business has grown and I’ve served my city as a council member and served and chaired numerous boards,” John Ewan, Class III alum said.

“It jumpstarted my volunteerism,” Ryan Caldwell, Class XX alum said.

The findings of this survey will help guide the organization in recruiting and selecting qualified leaders for years to come and has resulted in practical applications as well, opening the doors to potential venues and activities for future class sessions so that the program can continue to serve communities across San Luis Obispo County.

Leadership SLO is an independent, county-wide 501(c)3 nonprofit organization governed by an independent board of directors at the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce. The deadline for application to be considered for the Leadership SLO Class XXV is October 1, 2015. SLO Chamber membership is not a requirement. For more information, visit

To view infographics about the survey findings, please visit



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BCA recognized by American Advertising Federation

Congratulations to our BCA clients on the following entries recognized at the 2015 American Advertising Federation Awards in March. Thank you for trusting BCA and working with us to continue to create award-winning marketing material.

To view winning entries for 2014, click here.

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10 Quotes to Inspire Your Brand Strategy

Courtney Meznarich

Contributor: Courtney Meznarich
February 26, 2015

It seems that no other era has seen such rapid transformation and progression in the marketing and public relations sector as we are seeing now. Technology changes and then strategies change. But for the most part, branding best practices remain the same. I thought the following ten quotes demonstrated that, no matter how many decades pass, there are still truths that should be noted and applied to your personal and business brand strategies.



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Good luck, Captain – and make sure to Instagram it

Guest Contributor:  Amy Watson, BCA Intern January 27, 2015

Guest Contributor:
Amy Watson, BCA Intern
January 27, 2015

Social Media Infographic

Courtesy: AdWeek

During last week’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama spoke these words to NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly, who plans to spend an entire year on board the International Space Station.

Social media was not only mentioned in this year’s State of the Union (or should we say #SOTU?), but it dramatically impacted its reception as well. It appears that marketers are on track when they report plans to spend more on social media engagement this year, according to the 2015 State of Marketing Report. For proof, just take a look at the numbers in this AdWeek infographic.

With an impressive 156.5 million users – 71% of adults on the internet – Facebook remains an outlet that cannot be ignored. And as Facebook continues to reduce the organic reach of company Pages – granted, with clearly explained reasons for doing so – paid promotion on this platform is a must heading into the New Year.

Yet this begs the question: if organic content is transitioning away from Facebook, where is it going? On January 9 of this year, the Pew Research Center released the Social Media Update 2014, revealing that these days, the fastest-growing social media platform out there is none other than Instagram. Are we surprised?

As it grows, it’s taking the cake for user engagement. In 2014, Forrester studied user interactions on social networks and reported that Instagram delivered brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more than Twitter. In another study, Zuum analyzed social media engagement with eight snack food brands. Facebook was still shown to be the dominant network, but Oreo – the one company with an Instagram account – showed more engagement from its 187,000 Instagram followers than its 37 million Facebook fans.

There are multiple factors driving this trend. For one thing, Instagram – at least for now – does not use algorithms to filter out posts, meaning that photos show up in the chronological order that they’re published. Secondly, its simple, uncluttered layout is easy to navigate, giving space for each individual photo to shine. And thirdly, there’s a myriad of research out there suggesting that visual content grabs the viewer and generates more engagement.

And Instagram is welcoming the corporate attention. Last month, the Instagram for Business blog announced the development of verified badges, along with a commitment to continue deactivating spammy accounts to keep brands authentic. A few months ago, they released a new suite of business tools to measure impression, reach, and engagement. The blog itself offers news, examples and advice for businesses to make the most of their Instagram accounts.

Of course – as always – the critical first step is understanding your audience. The red and yellow sections that dominate the Instagram pie chart reveal just how many of its users fall into the 18-34 age range, while more than half of Facebook users are age 35 or older. Related to this is the consideration that Instagram is primarily used on mobile devices rather than desktops. Facebook, while still skewed in favor of mobile users, is more evenly split.

The bottom line is that each social media platform offers unique advantages, and selecting the appropriate platform for your brand, your demographic and your content takes strategy and care. But if you’re still thinking through marketing strategies for 2015, the numbers are showing that it just might be worth the time and effort to pump out those consistent and compelling visuals on sites that put visual content first and foremost.

Good luck, brands – and make sure to Instagram it.

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What Steve Jobs knew about typography that you should know, too

Aaron Cotton

Aaron Cotton
July 16, 2014

There are a few key pieces of your brand’s visual identity that determine the entire feeling around it, including name, logo, colors and typography. Any one of these items, if changed, would elicit a different feeling. Imagine the Coca-Cola logo in purple or a UPS truck with the Apple logo on the side. And while typography often falls to the bottom in order of importance, I think it deserves more recognition.

Typography concerns the style and appearance of any lettering or fonts used as part of your visual brand identity. It is also the key voice, style and tone to any brand in my opinion. This feeling will be associated with your brand, whether you like it or not. You might as well have a plan for this part of your brand identity, right?

For example, let’s look at a few popular brands with only the typeface changed:


This example is probably extreme, since the typeface that was used is Comic Sans, a name so infamous that even non-designers may reel at it. But with an estimated 55% of all purchase decisions being based on visual clues, you cannot afford to ignore typography.

Large corporations “get it” and set aside a budget for typography and many even commission a custom typeface for exclusive use. Foreword thinkers such as Steve Jobs had a firm grasp on the importance of typography, as demonstrated during his famous commencement address to Stanford in 2005.

“I decided to take a calligraphy class…I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.”

Brands often describe themselves with a few key adjectives, using words that appeal to most people and have an overwhelmingly positive association. Designers know that certain typefaces can be associated with these adjectives, for example:


In conclusion, there are some typefaces that no matter how good your intentions or how appropriate you may THINK the font is, it’s not. Trust me, I’m a designer. And these typefaces are so notorious that they’ve been the butt of many-a-designer-joke and produced such organizations as “I Hate Comic Sans” and “Papyrus Watch”. So I leave you with this:


Just don’t do it.

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Speaking Their Language: America’s 3 Distinct Generations


Alyssa Santos

Alyssa Santos
June 27, 2014

Remember these days? Google’s recent graduation ad will take you back to your own high school graduation and the sense of search and discovery that comes with. This quick video has all the makings of a great commercial: humor, emotional appeal, product showcase and relevance to the right audience.

Effective marketing begins with knowing who you’re talking to and giving them an emotional message to grab on to. Ads like this are more memorable and more likely to lead to action. Google was dialed into what their audience – high school grads – thinks, feels and lives.

Know your audience and speak their language by taking the time to identify what defines them. With a little assistance from our expert graphic design staff, I’ve done the legwork and broken down major generational characteristics to help you find and speak to the audience for your brand, service or product.


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“I Want Convenience — and Make It Snappy!”: A Lesson from StumbleUpon

Emily Hsiao

Emily Hsiao
June 20, 2014

If you haven’t heard of StumbleUpon, it’s a website that calls itself “the easiest way to find cool new websites, videos, photos and images from across the Web.” It’s a website where you can select what interests you, and it’ll randomly generate other sites it thinks you’ll like. From recipes to games to documentaries — it really has it all.


StumbleUpon is nothing new. It was founded in 2002 and gained popularity maybe a few years ago. I had forgotten about it until recently, and then I found myself hooked again.


What I like about StumbleUpon isn’t just the content it provides but the overall concept itself. People are always saying how users nowadays have shorter attention spans, which is very true. It’s not good enough that we can find anything by just googling it. Let’s be honest, I want to learn new things, but I don’t want to have to look for it (even that’s become too much effort).


While I realize that my statement epitomizes laziness, I know it applies to others, too — that’s why websites like StumbleUpon exist: a website dedicated to showing me other websites I might want to visit, where I get new content by clicking a single button. StumbleUpon has managed to capture the attention of people and keep them locked into — or at least coming back to — one website: theirs.


All of this reinforces the idea that your audience’s attention span is becoming shorter and shorter by the day (maybe by the minute). As Internet speeds increase and technology becomes more advanced — by that, I mean does more things for us — we become more accustomed to getting what we want right away with convenience.


So no matter what you’re doing — designing an ad, writing a press release, coming up with headlines — remember how little time you actually have to capture your audience’s attention. Keep it short and sweet.


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