Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The small lessons learnt from a 6 star brand experience

Posted: September 19th, 2019 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

It’s not often that you get to celebrate 20 years of marriage. So in true celebratory mode, my husband David and I, chose to spend a long weekend at the 6 star lodge in Wolgan Valley called One&Only. 

To say that we were blown away is an understatement! As a brand strategist I couldn’t help but marvel at the brand experience they created for us and felt that it was my duty to relay such attention to detail – as I do believe that each and everyone of us can learn from this 6 star business.

I must confess that my initial experience with the One&Only brand wasn’t earth shattering. The website, which was my initial point of contact, had me rather confused as I fumbled my way through trying to find out what was on the spa menu and what activities where on offer. This part left me a little frustrated and to be honest I gave up in the end.

However, I’m really nit-picking here as there really wasn’t much else to fault this brand on.

Prior to our getaway, I received an email reminding me of our visit. They redeemed themselves as attached to the email were about 8 pdf files that went through all their additional activities and how to book them.

The day before departure I received a phone call from One&Only to check if I had received everything and ask if I had any questions. I was able to immediately book in our day spa session, so I was happy. I was at this point informed that we would receive a complimentary lunch which we could enjoy on the day of our arrival or departure. We chose to do this on the day that we arrived.

The drive over the Blue Mountains from Sydney is beautiful and as we descended into the Wolgan Valley we could literally feel the stress fading away.

We were met at the gate where our bags were unpacked and tagged and popped into the 4 wheel drive that took us up to the lodge. We were greeted with hot towels and taken straight to enjoy a sumptuous lunch with delicious local Mudgee wines. Lunch overlooked the grounds dotted with kangaroos and wombats! I can only imagine how overseas guests would have felt being so close to Australian wildlife.

So here’s what I noticed.

Everyone that we came in contact with was incredibly well trained and knew all about the company, activities, history, wines and food. I just love that the brand supports local industry with food and wine sourced from the area. The products in the day spa are all from an Australian company called Sodashi and these products are also found in your villa. Another Australian brand that they support is R.M Williams. Staff (other than management) wore deep blue R.M Williams jeans with an R.M Williams belt. It all added to the distinctly Australian bush experience that they were creating. Now all I want is one of their belts!

The staff all greeted us by placing their right hand over the heart which made us feel acknowledged and special. 

When we checked in, we were personally escorted to our villa and given a tour to show us where everything was and how to work it. Our bags had already been delivered and were neatly stowed in the massive walk-in robe/dressing room. Apart from our own personal pool, fluffy white robes, a shower with a glass ceiling and a double sided fireplace, they focused on the small things too…

Every villa was provided with a sketch pad and pencils for those, like me, who love to dabble in drawing. There were books and magazines, the newspaper delivered daily, mountain bikes on our porch for exploring the property, a backpack to pop our complimentary sunscreen and drinks in when going on an outing and of course Australian organic tea and coffee.

The weekend was pure luxury but it was how they made us feel that ensured that our experience was an unforgettable one.

For example, on our second night, they ran out of the red wine that we had enjoyed the night before. As an apology for this (really not their fault, right?) I was offered a glass of French champagne instead of the Prosecco that I was quite happy to enjoy. The manager then ducked into the cellar and was able to find the very last bottle of that vintage that we loved. This bottle was kept on our table all night so that no-one else in the restaurant could drink it.

What impressed me most was not the big impressive offerings at the lodge (although they certainly were outstanding), but rather the attention to detail on the small seemingly insignificant things.

The sound of the wooden chimes (rather than metal) that we heard as we walked up to the day spa. The fact that staff remembered us and greeted us by name when we arrived for our meals. It doesn’t cost a cent to be polite, to smile and to make people feel welcome, yet so many businesses overlook this very simply offering.

It took 6 star service to remind me, that this is something that each and everyone of us could be doing in our business right now.

Lord of the dance

Posted: January 11th, 2019 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

And just like that 2019 is upon us. I took a much needed break over the holidays which included a full social media detox!

At first it was hard as I felt as though I was missing out, but after a few days I realised that I didn’t miss it at all, and I was able to find time to think. Really think.

As I sit here writing, the tune of a hymn from my boarding school days rings in my ears…

“Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the dance said He
and I’ll lead you all wherever you may be
and I’ll lead you all in the dance said He.”

As per the four or five years past, I have a word for 2019.

My word this year is ‘Dancer’.

This word has a lot of meaning to me at the moment. Partly because I have just been through what I can only describe as the hardest month I’ve experienced in 16 years of business. I won’t go into details, but lets just say that I was delivered a few hefty blows – four to be exact. And they left me reeling. For most of the month I operated in a fog. I could hardly see one step in front of me – let alone be an inspiring leader, creative director and consultant!

I was in shock. I was devastated and overwhelmed. I felt abandoned, but most of all I was cranky at myself. Why? Well, this is the second reason why Dancer is so important to me. It’s because I have been getting up everyday, putting on a brave face that was focused on pleasing everyone else but myself. Being a business owner is hard. There is so much responsibility. So much that it’s exhausting!

Apart from bringing in work, managing workflow, systems and procedures, servicing clients and paying the bills I also take my responsibility to look after my staff very seriously. You know the drill, pay wages, manage holidays, ensure that they are happy, inspired and motivated. Yet in the process of giving to clients, the team, contractors, suppliers, colleagues and everyone in-between, I was becoming depleted. No one (including me) was looking after my happiness, inspiration or motivation. I was running on empty with nothing to replenish my tank.

I was dancing to everybody else’s music.

But that was so 2018.

This year I am the Dancer.

I choose the music. I choose what beat I want to move to. I choose how fast or slow I want to dance and I choose who* I want to dance with. This is my year to move, pivot, leap and stretch.

I am excited.

And if I’m honest I am also a little nervous and more than a little petrified! But that’s good right?

The rehearsal has been practiced for 16 years. Now it’s showtime. The stage is set, the curtain is up. It’s time for me to press play and step into the spotlight to dance to the rhythm of my own drum.

“Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the dance said She
and I’ll lead you all wherever you may be
and I’ll lead you all in the dance said She.”

* I don’t work with assholes

Coles flips while their brand flops

Posted: August 13th, 2018 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

It seems that Cole can’t make up their mind.

Do they support plastic use, are they against it, should they supply bags for free, perhaps for a limited time, or maybe forever, no lets go back to a limited time.

Clearly they have no clear environmental policy or strategy, and their indecision on what option to use fluctuates more than a 15 year olds decision on what selfie to post!

The backlash to Coles ban on single use plastic bags has left consumers feeling insulted and frustrated. Initially, the concept was to remove single use plastic bags from their supermarkets in the attempt to help the environment. Well, that is what we were lead to believe. But it is quite clear that Coles has used the eco-warrior ruse to jump on a money-making band wagon.

From their actions, it appears that Coles has absolutely no regard for our environment, or for the intelligence of their customers.

Did they think that we would be fooled?

Firstly, according to an analysis by Queensland University of Technology retail expert Dr Gary Mortimer, Coles and Woolworths stand to make roughly $71 million in gross profit by replacing free lightweight plastic bags with the heavier 15c bags. This excludes profits from their more environmentally friendly material bag options which are being sold for $1-$3 per bag!

Secondly, banning single use plastic bags only to replace them with heavier plastic bags, still results in the use of plastic bags. The thicker ones may last slightly longer, but they too will break and end up in landfill. And lastly, not even a month after banning the plastic bags, Coles brings out a promotion that involves customers being rewarded with plastic covered, plastic toys for every $30 spent. These ‘Little Shop’ toys clearly show Coles lack of brand alignment when it comes to the environment.

The backlash to all of this behaviour has left consumers with a very bad taste in their mouths, and they have taken to social media to share the views on the topic. A campaign stating ‘COLES just ditched the plastic bag ban! SHARE if you will now ditch COLES’ has gained traction even though Coles has flipped back to a limited time on free 15c bags. Environment Victoria went to social media and shared a range of new thicker plastic bag designs for Coles to distribute which show the damage to wildlife and a beach affected by litter.

Coles Moles plastic bag brand damage

But it doesn’t end there. A website called has been launched where you can buy your Coles Moles reusable cloth bag (which will last way longer than a plastic bag). You can now show your distaste for Coles’ plastic bag ban backflip, with a reusable bag that gives the supermarket giant the big ol’ middle finger.

The damage to the Coles brand is proving to be far more than they would have anticipated.

This move to single use bags reeks of money, deception and lies. The back flipping could rival Olympian gymnasts but the question is, will the Australian consumer support this trumped up, deceptive behaviour. Or will they choose to talk with their feet and head to supermarkets such as Aldi, Woolworths or IGA?

If Coles wants to maintain their position as one of the super-super market giants, then they are going to have to take a very close look at their brand alignment and bring some authenticity into the mix.

It’s not what you say Coles that matters, it’s what you do.

Condescending GIO advert makes women look stupid

Posted: May 16th, 2018 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

In a world where glass ceilings are still so prevalent and industries are notorious for undermining and underestimating the power, intelligence and determination of women, it is disappointing to see one of our largest insurance companies view their opinion of women to the entire nation.

It appears that GIO sees women as stupid, uneducated fools that have no idea what insurance they may or may not have. In their recent ‘You Know With GIO’ campaign that has aired prolifically during the Monday screening on Channel 7 of The Mentor, GIO has an advert which is both condescending and undermining to women.

I can imagine how the situation unfolded…

The marketing team (or Leo Burnett to be precise) was called in to brainstorm areas of customer concern or pain points and then to problem solve these with solutions that GIO can provide the client. With painstaking research they discover that most people don’t know what they are covered for. Bingo, they have a strategy. This all seems perfectly harmless and quite frankly it’s standard marketing practice.

However, it is in the execution of the advert that the GIO marketers have fallen far from the mark. GIO replied to a tweet of mine saying “it’s (the advert) designed to be an education piece based on the insight that many people may not know what they are covered for.”

The problem with this is that the ‘many people’ in the advert only appear to be somewhat dazed, unsure, confused women. Not a single man was shown not knowing what they are covered for.

Gender bias? Absolutely.

Condescending towards women? Without a doubt.

Perhaps GIO should look further into their ‘insight’ to determine exactly how many women are organising insurance. I would imagine there would be a fair amount of us. Which means that their condescending brand is insulting the very customers they are trying to attract.

Now I’m sure that the advert appears in many time slots however I find the positioning of the advert during a small business program interesting. Clearly GIO has done their research and gained from the 2016 census that more women are starting and running businesses than ever before. And no, we are not all helpless, unknowing, pathetic souls who have no idea about our insurance.

If your clients are unclear of what they are covered for GIO, perhaps you should look at how you are communicating with them.

As a business owner of two companies, the decision maker on our home and content insurance and the one who manages our investment property insurance, I can assure you that I will make a very educated decision not to support a brand that undermines women. The omission of depicting a clueless man in your advert screams loud and clear to the nation, that GIO believes that only men know about insurance.

Irresponsible advertising and guilt by association

Posted: March 22nd, 2018 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

I saw an Instagram post recently that showed a poster in a shopping centre that read:

“Broke AF but strongly support treating yourself?”

It had the AfterPay logo at the bottom with the words ‘is now in store’.

Irresponsible advertising with the AfterPay logo Broke AF

With Australian household debt the fourth highest in the world, and a net national debt accruing interest of $31,664,835,069, it is clear that many Australians are struggling to get on top of their debt. This however is not a post about finances but rather about irresponsible advertising.

The words on the poster have also be used in social media posts. And while some may think that this is funny, the debt crisis and the affects that it has on lives is not as amusing. Financial issues were cited as a factor in more than one in four marriage break-ups, and are considered the top cause of stress which leads to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The damage of this snowballs as statistics from Healthline show that 90 percent of people who commit suicide have a mental illness at the time of their death.

When you realise the damaging effect that this advertising can have on people, it really is unacceptable.

The other concern, is the younger demographic that is being targeted (I’m sure that some of my older readers would have had to Google ‘AF’ to understand what it is referring to). Targeting young, highly vulnerable shoppers like this is outrageous. If they are getting into bad debt habits at a young age, how are they ever supposed to become responsible adult spenders?

Shame on you AfterPay!

But here’s the kicker. The poster was apparently not created by AfterPay, but rather by the store. The problem here is two fold:

1. AfterPay becomes guilty by association

Whether this is a poster created or approved by AfterPay or not, is irrelevant. Their logo is the dominant branding on the poster and is promoting their business. If they have supplied the copy for this poster along with their logo, then they need to take a long hard look at their business values and decide what kind of company they plan to be. If they haven’t endorsed this advertising, they need to reign in what advertising their logo is permitted to appear on. Having an approval policy to determine what advertising is and isn’t allowed to be used will go a long way in protecting their brand against such irresponsible advertising.

2. Fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on you

Broke AF promoting AfterPay

When the Instragram post went up about the shopping centre poster, a follower commented that it wasn’t an AfterPay advertisement. The problem with this is that another company on Instagram was seen advertising exactly the same wording with the AfterPay logo in the same spot. A quick scroll through Instagram shows that this poster had been shared multiple times by many AfterPay customers. An oversight? I’ll let consumers be the judge.

Don’t let your brand be negatively effected by the behaviour of others. If your logo is on any promotional material, you have a say in whether it gets published or printed. If it doesn’t fit into your brand strategy, then you have every right to put your foot down and get it removed.

Over to you AfterPay.







How to pick the right business name

Posted: August 22nd, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

I grew up in apartheid South Africa. Mum, dad, myself and my two sisters and baby brother. We lived in a small bush town nestled on the border of the world famous Kruger National Park. (It’s where most of my family still live to this day).

The community is filled with people who know, love and support each other. Yes, it is a small town and everyone knows your business (which as a teenager made me want to escape), but everyone has your back – always.

This is why I named by business White River Design after my hometown, White River. (more…)

Confessions of a graphic designer

Posted: July 22nd, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

Are you a plumber with a leaky tap?

As a graphic designer by trade and a brand strategist by profession, you would think that I’d have my act together when it comes to my own personal branding.

But the truth is that I don’t.


Pricing matters but customer service matters more

Posted: June 21st, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

Does price matter?

It’s a question that many of us business owners grapple with. Often (especially as start ups) we believe we have to be competitive on price to get our customers to do business with us.

I don’t always agree with this thinking.

A number of years ago my husband, David and I decided that we wanted to (more…)

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