2020! Not the start to the decade that we anticipated | White River Design
We were hoping for a slightly quieter year with less stress - we certainly go part of that wish.

2020! Not the start to the decade that we anticipated

Were you as excited for 2020 as we were? Holy smokes did this one take us by surprise. We were looking forward to a year of change after selling the website side of the business. But we didn’t expect this! We were hoping for a slightly quieter year with less stress – we certainly got part of that wish. It was not the start we anticipated.

To be honest, having a reprieve from the fast paced studio was a bit of a relief. We were also excited by the opportunity to work with new clients across the country and around the world. With Zoom becoming so popular, it meant that borders were no longer a barrier and we got to grow our international foot print. We learned that for every negative, there is a positive. How did you go during Covid?


Rebuilding Australia

We saw the new year in watching our world burning around us. It was frightening, devastating and heart breaking. Being big fans of nature and understanding how important our vegetation is, we wanted to do our bit to help. We partnered with our printer and for every order of 1000 business cards, we planted a tree on behalf of our client. This initiative is still in place, so if you want to make a difference and get you business cards, give us a call.

WRD rebuilding australia not the start we anticipated
not the start we anticipated WRD

Chamber Vice President

DebbieO was elected as the Vice President of the Penrith Chamber of Commerce. Networking has been amazing for our business. Debbie felt like it was an opportunity to give back to the wonderful Penrith business community. During Covid we moved all of our meetings online, giving people a way to still connect with each other during such a difficult time.

Brand Strategy sessions

The year started off well with more Brand Strategy sessions where we got to work with local, national and international clients on their Brand Personality and brand development.

Little did we know that this was going to be the start of a lot more online strategy sessions and a few more international clients added to our amazing client base.

WRD brand building not the start we anticipated

Focus on Brand

not the start we anticipated WRD WGAC

We started a video series called Focus On Brand where we looked at different brands and shared what we loved most about them. Ironically this one where DebbieO was talking about Who Gives a Crap was a premonition of things to come and the toilet paper frenzy that soon ensued. Watch other Focus On Brand videos of brands who truly connect and resonate with their customer.


Tech Ready Women

DebbieO decided to use Covid to get stuck into a new venture that has been bubbling for a while now. She was one of 50 out of 500 applicants to make it onto the Tech Ready Women’s program. Brand Magic is her tech startup that licences the Brand Personalities IP, so that other creatives in the branding space can use our system. In the 8 week program she got closer to implementing her vision.

not the start we anticipated DebbieO


Unsolicited advice #18

You can’t control everything. If Covid has taught us anything, it is that some things are truly out of our control. However, we do have control over how we react to things. Did you treat Covid as all doom and gloom? Or did you see it as an opportunity to get on top of projects you hadn’t had time to get to previously? Perhaps it was time to slow down, take a breath and regroup? It’s very easy to get caught up in the hype and tension of a moment, but in truth, sometimes what is happening around you is out of your control. So why stress and worry about something you cannot change? Look at how you react and change that outcome.



Covid can’t break community

Everyday we get to work at The Creative Fringe – our amazing coworking space filled with wonderful people with big smiles and bigger hearts. Tuesday’s are when we get together for Talk n Tea. We chat, connect and engage and they make each day a joy to come to work. Covid hit many pretty hard, but our community spirit was stronger than ever.

not the start we anticipated WRD creative fringe
DebbieO Brand Magic Book not the start we anticipated

Still writing that book

DebbieO started writing a book a few years ago. Then burnout hit and it was put on the back burner. Covid wasn’t all that quiet for us, but it certainly was slower, so there was more time to stop and think.

With thinking comes planning, and then doing. So Debbie got back to writing her book on Brand Personalities. 

Clearly this could take a while as she is easily distracted by Studio Pup, Lily!

Sad farewells…

wrd last farewell not the start we anticipated

We were so sad to say farewell to our designer Ellie and our Community Manager Rienna. Ellie was going to head off travelling but Covid sadly stopped those plans.  Rienna had been with us for 4 and a half years and was looking for her next challenge. Covid also meant that our farewell dinner was massively delayed but we managed to fit a last supper in.

… and happy hello’s



Community Manager Barb Creative Fringe
Barb joined our team not only as the Community Manager at The Creative Fringe, but also helping out with admin and reception work at WRD and social media with Brand Magic – a Jill of all Trades.Cassie had been following WRD for a fair while and with Covid and Ellie moving on, it offered up an opportunity for Cassie to join our team as a freelance Graphic Designer.
WRD Western Weekender Penrith Panthers

Penrith Proud

DebbieO was asked to speak at the launch of the Penrith Proudcampaign. She has always been a huge advocate to support local wherever possible. She believes that this is the easiest way to build and grow a community. When you spend local you are helping a real family in your area. The knock on effect is enormous. After the challenging year we had, it was more important than ever before to support local – so important that it made the front cover of the Western Weekender.

Lewers Gallery Christmas

Christmas party 2020 at Sips and Sounds at The Lewers Cafe brought this crazy year to a close for the WRD team.

WRD christmas party not the start we anticipated

Written by our Creative Director & Branding Specialist Debbie O'Connor - Consultant, Strategist, Keynote Speaker

Published: Feb 15th, 2023