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BNO Celebrates 40 Years

On a recent evening, about 60 of us BNOers virtually gathered to celebrate something that many marketing agencies won’t: our 40th birthday. We don’t say that to gloat – quite the opposite. If you know BNO, you know we’re about gratitude over gloating. About git ’er dones over attaboys. And about gazing ahead, not looking in the rear view. We did a little of both in celebrating our special anniversary, themed “Looking Back to the Future.”

It played out as an awesome, Zoom-hosted gathering where we could lift a glass to our founder, Joanne Obenauf – and each other – play a little online trivia, dress in our best ’80s get-ups, and enjoy each other’s company in the true BNO spirit.



BNO swag



But like we said, dwelling on the past for the whole evening is not our thing. So, after about five anecdotes and toasts steered Joanne’s way, she took the floor and in a lovely “leadership flows from the top down” moment, said she’d heard enough about herself. Forty years was possible because of us and the great people who preceded us, she insisted. But what really matters is what happens from here on out.

Of course, she’s right. But the point Joanne so eloquently made as she continued was that BNO has the solid foundation to continue that success and growth. There’s a reason why we have associates who count their BNO tenure in decades. There’s a reason why we increased our staffing by 30% during a pandemic year. And there’s a reason that we continue to do great and effective work despite not being in the same room. Smart, trusting, curious, involved, inspired, and innovative people.

And the next day, we were back at it: developing an employer brand for a global biopharma, putting the finishing touches on the website for our satellite Florida BNO Labs office, crafting a brand guide for one of the largest employers on the planet.


Forty years has given us a unique perspective on different areas we work within. We’re steeped in experience around employer brand marketing, fintech, customer experience, healthcare, and consumer.

Likewise, since we never rest on our laurels, we began 40 years ago with print and have since grown to tackle services from creative and branding to experiential, influencer, analytics, and search.

Seven years ago, with a mind toward an enduring future, Joanne welcomed Trista Walker as BNO’s new president. Together with our talented management team, Trista has her eye on a bright future and the continued evolution of BNO.


The only damper on our celebration? That we couldn’t share the good cheer with the people who really do make it all possible: our many clients and partners. Because of that, we’re planning a “Giving Back to the Future” event in the fall with teams of BNO volunteers supporting our communities by donating time. We’ll also host an in-person birthday bash around the same time, where we’ll all come together once again, hear some more origination stories until Joanne stops us, and listen to the clink of real glasses as we toast the amazing things that are still to come.