Yes, branding is about the ‘why’. But I explain the ‘how’.

Funnily enough, apartheid was my first lesson in branding. Because a strong brand can traverse even the toughest of sanctions

I grew up in South Africa during apartheid. Many countries and brands placed sanctions on us and as a result, there were a lot of products that I didn’t grow up with. Imagine being a child not growing up with McDonalds, Nike or Pepsi?

This was all pre-internet (yes, I’m showing my age!). None of the brands were advertised on TV, magazines or billboards as we couldn’t buy them. Yet from my home town of White River, nestled in the African bush on the border of the Kruger National Park, I still knew about Pepsi. I was more than aware of Nike. And I certainly was familiar with the famous red and yellow arches of McDonalds.

How? Through the power of branding. 

People would come back from their overseas holidays with stories about burgers made in just 30 seconds, designer clothes that they would parade around in and of course delights such as Mars Bars or Toblerones. Suddenly our small, protected worlds were infiltrated by these brands. These became much anticipated gifts and I marvelled at how important ownership over them became.

I was fascinated. And this fascination didn’t diminish – it intensified.

I create kelpies.

I don’t create sheep.

I studied a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in Graphic Design and Photography at the University of Stellenbosch, where my love of design was nurtured and my fascination with branding continued.

After falling in love with an Aussie, I set down roots in Australia and created my own branding studio, White River Design – named after my home town and a small piece of Africa that I get to have with me each and every day.

Fast-forward to today and I’ve delivered brands that have been awarded Sydney Design Awards, built an award-winning collaborative space for creatives, and hosted a 12-part TV series, Build Your Brand.

I’ve consulted to large brands such as Westfield and established start-up (and multi-award winning!) brands. I’ve developed the Brand Magic® Masterclass, published the Brand Magic® Workbook, and developed my own Brand Personalities quiz to help organisations identify and define their brand personality.

And I’ve been the recipient of many business awards, including the Mulgoa Woman of the Year and the Penrith Business Person of the Year (2022, 2017 and 2012), and the work of WRD has been recognised by not only one or two, but an amazing three Sydney Design Awards.

I’m also a coffee fan (skinny latte, thanks!) and while I love a good book and alcohol ink, I love a night out with my friends even more!

2017 NSW Women of the Year Award for Mulgoa - nominated by The Hon. Tanya Davies MP Minister for Women.
2017 Penrith Business Person of the Year.
Meeting Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Ms Fiona Scott MP.
2017 winning our third Sydney Design Award for the branding of Awards Agency that also went on to win an International Stevie Award.
2016 Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence winning the Innovation Award.
2015 Winning a Sydney Design Award for our design and publication of the Michelle Bridges 12WBT Recipe for Success cookbook created to celebrate 5 years in business.
Debbie O'Connor with Michelle Bridges after White River Design published of the Recipe for Success Cookbook for 12WBT.
2014 Winner of the Champions of the West Award for The Creative Fringe.
2012 Penrith Business Person of the Year.

Whether you think you can

or you think you can’t

– you’re right.

This is my favourite quote!

Let’s Collaborate!

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Let's do it!
Designed by WRD © Debbie O'Connor 2024