There’s No Place Like Home

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By Megan Macias

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture named Ventura County the most desirable place to live in America. As a Ventura County-based business for nearly 30 years, Mustang Marketing is thrilled to see that the department loves our county as much as we do.

But what about Ventura County makes it so great?

After growing up in Thousand Oaks and graduating from TOHS in 2009, I decided it was time to explore a little outside of our “bubble.” Now, having lived all over the Southern California coastline — from Santa Barbara for my undergraduate studies and San Diego for a stint after graduation to Venice and Culver City during my early professional years — it’s safe to say that I’ve seen my fair share of desirable places to be.

Yet, here I am, back in the county where I came from, and I’m proud to say that there is no place I’d rather be.

In addition to the reasons listed by the USDA, which range from Ventura County’s sunny winters to our access to a body of water — rationale with which I whole-heartedly agree — I’ve come up with a few of my personal top reasons why I love where I live.

 

1.)  The people: I’m the type of person who makes it a point to have a conversation with strangers in line at the supermarket, on the trails with my dogs, while grabbing the mail — you name it. Not only do the people in Ventura County seem to appease my outgoing personality, but they actually seem to enjoy it as well, and I can easily say that the people in our community, more often than not, bring a smile to my face.

2.)  The food: While we may not have as many five-star-rated restaurants as other counties, there’s something to be said about having those neighborhood spots that you can always rely on (Topper’s Pizza, Pete’s Breakfast House in Ventura, Sesame Inn in Newbury Park, Lure Fish House, Stonehaus in Westlake, anyone?)

3.)  The security: After having some not-so-comforting incidents in some of my former living situations, it’s nice to go about my daily routine knowing that I live in one of the top 30 safest communities in California, according to safewise.com.

4.)  The scenery: Hiking Sycamore Canyon to Pt. Mugu, taking a boat ride around Westlake Lake, driving through Hidden Valley, watching the sunset over Silverstrand beach — if you’re into “stopping and smelling the roses” this is the place to be.

5.)  Mustang Marketing and our clients: As I mentioned before, Mustang was established in Ventura County in 1986, something that has given us the pleasure of working with many outstanding Ventura County-based clients that contribute fantastic products and services to the region. Although I am the newest member of the team, I can easily say that I love where I work, and I am glad Mustang still calls Ventura County home to this very day.

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Mustang Named as One of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies

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Mustang Marketing is proud to announce that we made Inc. magazine’s 34th annual Inc. 5000 list — an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. Our placement on the 2015 list is made even more exciting by the fact that it is the most competitive version of the list to date, with the average company achieving a growth rate of 490 percent!

This recognition places us among an impressive group of fellow Inc. 5000 companies, including Yelp, Pandora, Timberland, Dell, Domino’s Pizza, LinkedIn, Zillow and more. And, according to Inc. President and Editor-In-Chief Eric Schurenberg, making the list is no small feat.

“The story of this year’s Inc. 5000 is the story of great leadership. In an incredibly competitive business landscape, it takes something extraordinary to take your company to the top,” Schurenberg said. “You have to remember that the average company on the Inc. 5000 grew nearly six-fold since 2012. Business owners don’t achieve that kind of success by accident.”

We are thrilled to have our hard work and accomplishments acknowledged in this way, and we look forward to continuing to grow and achieve even greater successes alongside our fantastic clients.

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A Strategy for Creativity

By Michael Arroyo

 Creativity is like love — it is nearly impossible to explain, it means something a little different to everyone and, at some point, in some way, we all experience it. Whether it is in the form of trying a new combination of pizza toppings or, in the case of us designers, developing a new ad for a client, creativity is a part of all of our lives. The trick is learning to refine and focus this innate creativity to discover our best ideas and bring them into reality.

As with any other skill, effectively utilizing your creativity takes practice. Everyone is capable of coming up with remarkable ideas, but sometimes accessing those ideas can be a challenge.

One thing that often helps to get my creative thoughts flowing is remembering that creativity originates from problem solving. Consider the parameters of the project you are working on or, if none exist already, set a few yourself (you can always change them later). Looking for possible ways to solve a problem — in other words, meet parameters —naturally inspires creativity.

My creative process can also involve a lot of Google searching. I research the tactical aspects of the project, monitor trends and seek inspiration from ads, websites, art, videos — you name it! Almost like a free-write, I start with a smorgasbord of visual cues, leaving every idea on the table. I don’t close my mind off to anything, because resources that may seem unrelated to the project at hand can often spark a novel idea.

Of course, there will always be those days or projects where the creativity just doesn’t come easily. You might spend hours mulling something over, with nothing more to show for it than significantly worse posture than you had when you began. When this happens, my best advice is to take a break. Trying to force creativity usually leads to disappointing results. But, when you step back and clear your head, inspiration may just strike.

The bottom line is that there is creativity in all of us, whether we dream of being award-winning designers or just crafting a tastier pizza at lunch. With a little confidence and a lot of practice, we can all tap into our creative processes and come up with some pretty spectacular ideas.

Have a creative process of your own? Share it on our Facebook page!

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There’s [Sometimes] an App for That

Earlier this month, the digital news source Mashable released an article detailing the inevitable death of web design. The supposed “symptoms” of its downfall ranged from template commoditization and design pattern maturity to mobile device complications and the preference for artificial intelligence over human decision-making when it comes to web design. Facebook home pages were also an indicator of web design’s imminent demise.

“Facebook pages are so efficient in making a business visible that they are rendering basic web pages useless,” the author explained.

So what does this mean for businesses? Should unique dot-coms be given up in favor of generic WordPress templates and Facebook home pages flooded with photos and — ideally — positive reviews?

At Mustang, we are hesitant to believe that companies should forego quality web design in favor of an “Add Us on Facebook” link.

“I think using Facebook as a company home page is dangerous because it puts the control in someone else’s hands,” says Chris Barrett, Mustang’s creative director. “You are at the mercy of Facebook.”

Creative Manager Michael Arroyo also sees issues with Facebook’s user-friendly algorithms. “On Facebook, you can’t control what ads show up. I don’t think it would be good business to have competitors’ ads on your web presence,” he explains.

Another problem with Mashable’s diagnosis? Our ever-changing world.

“Websites in 10 years will definitely be different from what they are today,” Arroyo explains. “But so will the world. It will be cool to see how things shape up. I highly doubt that the most widely used source of information is going to die anytime soon.”

While the article highlights useful things to consider when it comes to web design, the Mustang Marketing team is hesitant to release the reigns of creativity to automated services and premade frameworks.

“I think we can all agree, though, that not a single out-of-the-box, social, template piece of any kind of technology just works without the need for design and human support,” Arroyo explains. “That includes Google, Facebook, WordPress, Apple or whatever else is waiting around the corner.”

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