Dolly Parton: Queen of Personal Branding

050423-F-7203T-185.JPGEditor’s note: While on the subject of personal branding this month I thought I would re-purpose one of my all-time most searched for blog posts that first ran in April 2009. Guess it showed me how much people love Dolly Parton! I’ll be hosting a talk on personal branding on Product Management Talk blog radio and # on twitter Monday, January 23 at 8 PM Eastern.

All professional marketers can learn a lot from Dolly Parton. The rags to riches singer  is an icon. Her personal marketing and branding skills should be required study for those of us in the marketing business. Why? Let’s just look at the past 24 hours.

While my husband and I were watching the basketball tourney on CBS Saturday we saw an ad for Dolly’s interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday night.  Earlier on Saturday we bumped into some family friends. Where were they heading for Easter break?  Dollywood. Then Sunday morning my husband began channel surfing only to land on an Arts and Entertainment special on Dolly.

Later, after church we stopped by Cracker Barrel for lunch. Who was on the sign out front smiling at me as I entered the restaurant?   And whose music was playing in the background as we shopped and played checkers while waiting for our table? And who could be heard advertising her special music offer  just for Cracker Barrels?  One word answers all these questions: Dolly. No doubt the publicity blitz is a tie-in to the opening of her new Broadway musical 9 to 5 based on the  movie of the same name in which she starred some 30 years ago.

I admire Dolly Parton for many reasons. She single handedly formed and funded the Imagination Library program which provides free monthly books to all Tennessee children ages 5 and under. Mostly though I love and admire her marketing genius when it comes to personal branding.

“Here you come again” Dolly.


  • Trevor Young says:

    Nice post Maryellen. I think communication professionals can also learn a lot from Clint Eastwood 🙂

  • maryellenmiller says:

    Thanks Trevor. I enjoyed your post on that Marketing Maven Clint Eastwood as well. If fame and fortune is the benchmark, those two sure must be doing something right!

  • Kyle says:

    I really like the Imagination Library. I wasn’t familiar with it until the birth of our son. We found out about it at the hospital. We now have “The Little Engine That Could” and “The Giingerbread Man”. Very cool program that she has started and funded. A reminder to me to always look for ways to give back. Thanks for the post. I’ve been enjoying your writings. Hope you are enjoying the FL work.

    • maryellenmiller says:

      Thanks Kyle. Glad you enjoy the posts. You are doing your son a tremendous service reading to him at a young age and yes, Dolly has given a wonderful gift to all young Tennesseeans in the form of the Imagination Library. She never forgot her roots. As to consulting, I love it!

  • Sue Painter says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more! Dolly is an inspiration as a businesswoman and is one sharp lady when it comes to branding. She is widely recognized everywhere for her look – love it or hate it, you know who she is. I’ve always known there is a sharp brain under that blond wig of hers, ha!

    • maryellen says:

      Indeed there is one sharp brain under that wig. Now I see she’s even opening yet another theme park in your newly adopted town Sue!

  • Jeff Brunson says:

    No doubt your reticular activating system was in full motion! Heaven knows – as I think about Dolly – I at least need some ‘work’ done … been looking at some old man in the mirror lately.

  • Bill Painter says:

    Thank you for the post. Dolly is certainly not the sterotype she plays and a lot of people have been surprised at her business and marketing acumen.

  • Linda Pucci says:

    Great posting, Mary Ellen. Dolly is an inspiration in so many ways, and she had been brilliant in branding herself, I think. Her story and her acumen has a lot to teach the rest of us.

  • And don’t forget she has a new movie out with Queen Latifah 🙂 She’s definitely someone who always stayed true to who she is and created a very successful career doing it!

  • It’s great to see Dolly enjoying her longevity. She certainly has a unique brand.

  • Hi Mary Ellen, Thanks so much for joining us at the #prodmgmttalk Twitter Chat! Here is the edited podcast of us with co-host @ErikaLAndersen from the Global Product Management Talk on Twitter The summary of tweets and recap is in development!

    • maryellen says:

      It was my pleasure to be a part of the Global Product Management Talk on twitter and on blog talk radio. Thanks for posting this link.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *