Thinking about refreshing your podcast branding? Before I discuss the “when,” let's consider how your podcast might benefit from a branding refresh.
What is “podcast branding”?
Your “podcast branding” is one or more features that uniquely identify your podcast. It's the first impression for new audiences, and it's how your loyal audience recognizes your podcast distinctly from others.
Podcast branding is more than only your cover art. It could be the logo inside your cover art (and that logo can be used for all kinds of things)—and a logo is difference from cover art. It's the audio and video elements you use throughout your episodes. It's your podcast description. It's in your repeated phrases. It's even in how you communicate and host your podcast.
A “branding refresh” would then be updating any or all of these elements, but keeping the core of your podcast the same. A “rebrand” would be if you change much more of your podcast, including what you talk about and whom you try to reach.
1. Attract a new audience
Refreshing your podcast branding might help you capture the attention of more people by standing out or appearing more relevant. This might help you appeal to new demographics or even recapture the interest of people who previously scrolled passed your podcast, for whatever reason.
For example, if your podcast focuses on helping Asian entrepreneurs, then you will probably be more likely to attract that ideal audience by showing an Asian in your cover art (and that might be your pretty/handsome face!). It can be a powerful thing when your potential audience can “see themselves” in your branding or messaging.
Or maybe the description of your podcast isn't communicating your content or purpose very well, so a refresh of this aspect of your podcast branding can better convince people to listen after they've already been attracted by the title and cover art.
2. Increase your perceived quality
I've come to loathe the phrase, “don't judge a book by its cover.” I think that really only applies to people, whose character can be completely different from their unchangeable appearance (but will be reflected in their willful changeable appearance). But we can, do, and I think should judge other things by their covers! Because if the cover isn't good, how can you trust that the contents will be better? As my friend Mark Des Cotes says, “If your podcast cover artwork looks cheap and amateurish, people will assume your podcast is cheap and amateurish and choose a different show to listen to.”
Instead, a well-executed brand refresh can make your podcast look or sound more professional, which is great even for hobby podcasts! (Please don't think that “professional” is a negative thing for hobbyists! Listen to “Labeling Podcasters: Amateur vs. Skilled” for some more thoughts on that.) This can improve your potential audience's first impression and entice them to continue exploring your podcast.
Some people or places (including Apple Podcasts) may be more interested to feature your podcast when it has better branding, and less interested when your cover art is ugly or the rest of your branding experience is negative.
3. Adapt to the latest trends
Industries change all the time. What's hot or “standard” now might be radically different in a few years. For example, look at the rise and fall of designing apps and websites to look like objects from the physical world (this design principle is called “skeuomorphism”). Apple very publicly moved away from skeuomorphism in 2013 with the release of iOS 7.
Or look at how much wider the selection is for affordable audio branding elements now compared to 2005. Updating your branding can help your podcast catch up with these trends so you're not yet another podcast using music from GarageBand, the picture of headphones around an RSS icon, or anything else cliché!
4. Strengthen or reset your podcast's identity and message
After you've been podcasting for a while, you probably have a better grasp on what makes your podcast unique and how you want to do things. That could mean rebranding to match your podcast's new direction, or updating your existing branding to reinforce what you've realized your strengths are. For example, red is generally seen as a negative design color, but it also has powerful meanings that I realized align perfectly with an audacious perspective. So when I redesigned The Audacity to Podcast‘s visual branding, I intentionally chose red as a branding color because it fits so well. Then, I combined that with strongly contrasting white and black.
I did this because I wanted to reinforce the core that my branding has had from the beginning in 2010: giving you the guts, the courage, the power, the audacity to podcast!
Part of my branding was in a hidden exclamation point in my logo. But that was too hidden in my old design. (Did you even know it was there?) My new design makes it more prominent.
Plus, the old font looked more playful and worked great for the Ramen Noodle (my first podcast, a clean-comedy show, now offline). The new font is bolder—both in style and emotion.
All of these things combined for me to strengthen the identity and message I already had. And yet I think I was able to keep the logo similar enough to appear as an evolution instead of something completely different.
A good branding refresh can help you visually and audibly reinforce what your podcast is about and who it's for, all without your saying a single word!
5. Infuse new energy for your audience and yourself
Do you know the good feeling of that new car smell, learning a new skill, wearing new clothes, reorganizing your stuff, or repainting your room? Similar to these things, a fresh brand can breathe new life into your podcast, both for your existing audience and even for yourself. When I redesigned The Audacity to Podcast‘s video branding, it made me much more eager to publish new video content because I was so proud of what I made!
Similarly, I'm one of those types who reads update notes (or “changelogs”) and gets excited when there are user-interface (UI) changes in apps. It feels “fresh”!
Call it whatever you want, most people get excited about new things (even if only in certain contexts). Refreshing your podcast branding might be just the trick you need to re-enthuse even yourself about your podcast.
6. Stand out from others
By refreshing your podcast branding with unique visual and audio elements, you can set your show apart from its “competitors.”
Consider, for example, if all the podcasts in your niche have predominantly blue cover art. Then making your cover art anything other than blue will make it stand out. Or maybe the other podcasts use photos in their cover art, so you stick with flat icons or only styled text.
Since your podcast branding can also include your content-presentation format, that offers another way to stand out from others. Back when Once Upon a Time was airing on ABC, there were more than a dozen fan podcasts about the TV show. While my own, ONCE podcast, stood out for being in-depth, there were some other podcasts that stood out by having a tight “5 things” format or even one that existed only to make fun of the show. Another of the podcasts stood out by including a rhyming recap of each episode.
It's like that saying, “When they zig, you zag.”
Top resources to help refresh your podcast branding
There are many places you can hire designers to help you with a branding refresh. The two I recommend most highly are my friend Mark Des Cotes from Podcast Branding, who is a highly skilled designer and a podcaster (I earn a commission from referrals who mention they heard about Mark from me or The Audacity to Podcast). I also less-frequently recommend 99designs (I earn commissions from qualifying purchases here, too), where you can get designers to compete for your business. 99designs will give you more options, but maybe not from people who understand podcasting; and Podcast Branding will work with you to understand your whole podcast's branding.
I usually recommend against Fiver because I've seen too much low-quality work and even intellectual-property theft.
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