The synthesis of conjugated polymers with ionic substituents directly bound to their main chain repeat units is a strategy for generating strongly electron-accepting conjugated polyelectrolytes, as demonstrated through the synthesis of a series of ionic azaquinodimethane (iAQM) compounds. The introduction of cationic substituents onto the quinoidal para-azaquinodimethane (AQM) core gives rise to a strongly electron-accepting building block, which can be employed in the synthesis of ionic small molecules and conjugated polyelectrolytes (CPEs). Electrochemical measurements alongside theoretical calculations indicate notably low-lying LUMO values for the iAQMs. The optical band gaps measured for these compounds are highly tunable based on structure, ranging from 2.30 eV in small molecules down to 1.22 eV in polymers. The iAQM small molecules and CPEs showcase the band gap reduction effects of combining the donor-acceptor strategy with the bond-length alternation reduction strategy. As a demonstration of their utility, the iAQM CPEs so generated were used as active agents in photothermal therapy.