Tracy: What was your entry point to entrepreneurship?
Ron: As a kid, I grew up surrounded by creativity. My parents were both fine artists with many gifted friends––master artists, painters, sculptors, photographers, illustrators, and college professors.
I studied AP art and took private art classes, too. The teachers would give their creative projects to me––I painted school murals, designed yearbook covers, created backdrops for school plays, etc.
In high school, I fell in love with football and the strategy of the game. I wanted to play quarterback, but the coach said I was too short and that I couldn’t throw the ball far enough. Always up for a challenge, I proved him wrong; by my junior year, I was the starting quarterback. I loved being the leader of the team and took the responsibility seriously. I dedicated my time to football instead of art; but unfortunately after repeated injuries in college, my football career was cut short.
Afterwards, I didn’t know what career to pursue. I was grateful for my artistic talent; but I wasn’t sure how to apply it to a career, since most fine artists never achieve wealth and notoriety until after their death. For a time, I followed in my father’s footsteps and worked with him as a business broker at one of the largest brokerage firms in the Southwest. I always surveyed my clients’ marketing materials first, before we talked about numbers. Even at that time, company reputation dictated my advice to the new buyers of either 1) keeping the brand as-is, or 2) coming in under a completely new identity. I learned a lot about business evaluation and business operations, and the knowledge I gained about both at that time is vital to my approach on branding today.
Then I discovered revolutionary artists like Toulouse-Lautrec, Alphonse Mucha, and Andy Warhol–– all financially successful with commercial work–– who were thriving and in demand long before their passing. I decided to study visual communications, and chose an art school with a curriculum structured around visual communications and design.
At the time, graphic design was crossing over to that new digital platform, the computer. Design software was nothing like what we have today. I would often “break” the software and create workarounds to use programs as palette and canvas instead of desktop publishing. I exceled to the top of my class, and earned a solid reputation with businesses outside my school for forward-thinking graphic design. Larger corporations were soon contracting me for projects. Seeing that I could fulfill my passion for art and make a good living at the same time, I knew I had chosen the right career path.
Tracy: Was there a time or an event when you caught the bug and wanted to become an entrepreneur?
Ron: When I was 23, I pitched my ideas to a local bank to help transform their traditional image to one more current and cutting-edge. After seeing my mockups, they asked me to begin work immediately.
Knowing that people loved my ideas was even more exciting than the money I earned. By taking an idea and implementing it so my vision and the company were successfully intertwined, I was helping to visually communicate what a company represents and make it appealing and engaging to the right audience.
It was a satisfying feeling; and from it, I caught the entrepreneurial bug. That feeling of satisfaction grew stronger each time I was asked for my ideas to improve a business–– a feeling I still get to this day.
Tracy: What is it about you that you can look a business owner in the eye and say, I can help, and how did you discover this magic?
Ron: As the demand for my work became greater, I realized that I needed to scale the business; but how could I scale myself? Again, loving a challenge, I dedicated everything to finding answers. Self-improvement and education became an integral part of both my business and my personal life. I became a student again––reading business books, connecting with mentors, listening to keynote speakers and thought leaders, attending seminars and workshops, and joining industry organizations. I even hired a business coach.
I applied and developed new techniques from what I studied. I learned that I didn’t need to scale myself; I needed to hire more people and train them to perform at my level. I then created systems for each of my processes to ensure that all the cogs in my ‘business machine’ work.
This changed my business: it is hyper-organized, my systems have their own systems, operations run smoothly, roles within my company are clearly defined, and the margins are strictly monitored (to ensure productivity).
All throughout that time, I wasn’t just learning how to improve my own business. My team and I were working for many companies; and over about fifteen years of testing and measuring, we learned what is effective, what is not effective, and why there is a difference. If a concept failed to succeed, we researched the why and used those results for improvement.
I found our most successful and award-winning work had a common denominator: it appealed to the human element and exhibited characteristics that define social conformity. It all came down to the fact that people make decisions based on emotions, interests, and necessity. 100% of the time, people- with varying quirks and idiosyncrasies- are the customer and audience; so it’s important to understand who we are.
After compiling all of the information we gathered over that time period, coupled with the proprietary systems I had developed for the IDealogic® brand, an exciting truth surfaced. I realized that we had actually developed a scientific method that works for branding all types of companies. This specific way of achieving results is our Brand Method℠,
Tracy: What do you find is your prospects’ biggest or most common problem?
Ron: Most business leaders don’t know how to tap into their brand’s full potential. Branding should happen on every level of the business, especially where it engages people. More than just visual communications, branding revolves around the soul of the company; the operations; the team; the promise; and the journey of the customer before, during, and after the sales cycle–– and all of that is defined by the company’s culture.