Creators and consumers both know that a podcast is more than a collection of audio files—it’s a presence in people’s lives that makes them feel understood and connected. The affinity you have for your favorite shows isn’t an accident, though. It’s the byproduct of powerful podcast branding. You’re probably familiar with brands of clothes, cars, and candy—but what does it mean to build a “brand” for your podcast? Simply put, podcast branding means developing a distinct visual and audio identity for your show. That includes everything from your podcast’s name and your cover art to your intro music and the consistent one-liners or sign-offs you might drop during conversations. Today’s audiences have nearly infinite options when it comes to content, so it’s essential to cultivate an identity that makes your podcast “pop.” Podcast branding is more art than science, but there are some best practices that can help you make a mark with your show. Read on for podcast branding tips from two marketing pros at Spotify.
- Greg Falconi: Senior Art Director for Talk Creative Marketing at Spotify
- Erin Safreno: Designer for Talk Creative Marketing at Spotify
Start with self-reflection
You might be eager to brainstorm cover art concepts and episode ideas for your podcast, but it’s helpful to understand the big picture before diving into the details.“The most important element to focus on is the podcast itself,” says Greg. “As you form your position and understand the goal of your podcast, things like your cover art and social media presence start to fall into place naturally.”Here are four questions to ask yourself as you lay the foundation for your podcast’s brand:
- The Why: Why are you creating this podcast?
- The What: What value will your show offer?
- The How: How will you accomplish your goals?
- The Who: Who is your target audience, and who are your competitors?
Once you’re confident with your answers, you’re ready to start building your brand.
Master your messaging
Podcast brand messaging refers to the way you communicate with your audience—this includes what you say and how you say it. “Make sure you have a consistent voice and tone that resonates with your audience,” says Erin. “Are you more traditional or progressive? Exclusive or accessible? Serious or playful?” Let’s unpack a few ways messaging shapes your podcast’s brand.
Make a lasting impression with your podcast name
Your podcast name sets the tone for what the audience expects every time they tune in. A great name ignites curiosity and indicates what your show is about (ideally in 20 characters or less).Take Oddvice, for example: “Their podcast name is a fun, creative way to let listeners know that the hosts don’t give standard advice,” says Erin. “They’re going to tell it how it is, no matter how odd it may be.”
Hook the audience with your podcast description
Your podcast description is a big opportunity to showcase your brand’s style and personality via the written word. Hosting a comedy podcast? Make it fun and punchy. Is your show more formal? Keep it buttoned up. “Creators often overlook their podcast descriptions, but they should be carefully crafted so your audience knows exactly what your show is about,” says Erin. Take a look at Oddvice’s podcast description:
Join best friends, Kristen McAtee and Alex Koot as they navigate the ups and downs of life. Coming from opposite upbringings, these 20 something-year olds bring different perspectives to the table. Each week they share personal experiences about various topics, and then in the next episode they read your stories and answer your questions. They're playing in the deep end and the shallow end... so grab your floaties 'cause it's about to get WAVY, BABY! No Limits. No Filters. Real ODDvice.
In just a few sentences, they highlight their unique perspective (two friends from opposite upbringings) and their sense of humor and tone of voice (“grab your floaties ‘cause it’s about to get WAVY, BABY!”).
Ensure your episode titles are on-brand
Just like a movie or book title, podcast episode titles reflect the mood of your content. Let’s say you host a down-and-dirty career advice podcast. Which of these (hypothetical) episode title feels on-brand?
- Episode 04: How to Get the Job You Want
- Forget Resumes: This Email Got Me My Dream Job
Every time you title an episode, ask yourself: Is this the right kind of energy I should send out? “Titles like ‘Episode 47’ without any context aren’t helpful to the audience, and you might miss potential listeners this way," says Greg.
Keep your episode content consistent
Brand identities are built on consistency. If you change your podcast format from episode to episode, it’s difficult to establish a brand that listeners can easily recognize. For example, if you build a reputation around funny monologues, it might throw your audience off if you publish a formal interview. The same principle applies to the staple components that you use in each episode. “Using a consistent introduction, tagline, or welcome message can help the audience feel like they're back with their friends,” says Greg.
Use visuals that complement your voice
Visual assets convey the spirit and ethos of your podcast through imagery. These include your podcast episode cover art, typeface, website design, promotional materials, and studio design (if you have a video podcast). Your visual assets should reflect your show’s tone and style. That might sound abstract, so rather than telling you how to design your brand elements, we asked the pros at Spotify to share some examples.First up: Teenager Therapy, a mental health-focused podcast hosted by “five stressed, sleep-deprived, yet energetic teens.” Greg points out how they use a retro, minimal aesthetic to create a compelling contrast with the difficult topics they address. “Their visuals feature soft gradient colors paired with life's hardest questions, alluding to how oxymoronic life can be for teens,” says Greg. “And their website uses fun graphics and interactions to make the content relatable to their audience.”
One specific visual asset that can persuade people to tune into your show is well-designed cover art. Erin explained how Oddvice’s cover art caught her attention.
“The art direction of their set uses fun, playful patterns and colors with outfits to match,” she says. “Big, bold typography anchors the composition by using only white to stand out from the colorful background, which is important because you want to know what the show name is immediately.”Remember, visual assets work best when they match your mood. “If you have a calm podcast about sleep meditation, the visuals should match the mood,” says Greg. “It wouldn’t make sense to use loud, abrasive colors and huge typography for this case.” Not a design pro? Don’t stress—Anchor’s Cover Art Creator lets you produce eye-catching cover art in just a few clicks through our partnership with Unsplash.
Keep your brand cohesive across every platform
Whether people discover your podcast on a listening app, on social media, or from a friend’s text, you want to deliver the same experience when they see your branding. This helps cultivate familiarity and trust with current and potential listeners. Today’s audiences are flooded with all kinds of content, so it’s never been more important to build a brand that’s memorable and unmistakably yours. For example, notice how Teenager Therapy’s visual identity is uniform across their website (above), video podcast title card, and promotional graphics. Even their studio set has their signature lo-fi feel.
Build your brand to build your audience
Build it, and they will come might not be the best motto when you’re in the early stages of your podcasting journey. The content you produce is the heart and soul of your show, but you also need a strong brand that inspires people to give your show a shot—and share it with others. “Just like any other product or idea, your podcast needs a persona that brings it to life in order to establish its place in the world,” Erin reminds us. From your cover art to copywriting to conversations, all of your podcast branding elements work together to create an experience that sticks with your audience. Got any podcast branding tips or questions? Give us a shout on Twitter @anchor.