After sharing multiple considerations for refreshing your podcast branding, it's time to wrap it up with the big question: how?
This is my last episode in my miniseries about refreshing your podcast branding. Please review these past episodes/articles for more information:
Reminder: 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. Evaluate the needs
Do you actually need to refresh your podcast branding, or are you merely bored with it?
Most likely, your needs will fit within one or more of the benefits to a podcast branding refresh that I've previously shared:
- Attract a new audience
- Increase your perceived quality
- Adapt to the latest trends
- Strengthen or reset your podcast's identity and message
- Infuse new energy for your audience and yourself
- Stand out from others
Your actual needs should be the biggest influence over all your other branding-refresh decisions. For example, my now retired Once Upon a Time TV aftershow podcast got me a friendly call with one of Disney's lawyers because my visual branding looked so much like theirs, that they actually thought I was using their images. So all I needed to do to satisfy the almighty Mouse was refresh the visual branding and make some more prominent disclaimers that we weren't affiliated. That was an immediate and important need for that podcast's visual branding, but it didn't change anything about how we ran the podcast (and the Disney lawyer was clear that they did not want us to stop our podcast).
2. Understand your own podcast
You've seen the cliché plot line before: you journey up a mountain on a path to self discovery and you're met by some sage who helps you discover that the magic was within you all along.
Understanding your own podcast won't have you climbing mountains, but it does mean trying to step out of your own position and objectively look at your podcast as both an outsider and as an audience member. Seek to understand what makes your podcast unique. What are your recurring elements? What is your podcast known for? What does the audience like and dislike? Why is your audience listening? And why are you even making the podcast?
Look for the things you should emphasize more, and the things you should remove.
For the branding refresh I did of The Audacity to Podcast a few years ago, I realized that my visual elements weren't really communicating the idea of “audacity”: boldness, courage, guts, and such. But those were definitely recurring themes. After all, that's why I named by show The Audacity to Podcast! So I knew that the magic was in me all along, I just had to let it go!
Another aspect of this is realizing that your podcast's branding might not match your own preferences. For example, the music I have always used The Audacity to Podcast, a song called “Vegas Shuffle,” is not actually the kind of music I enjoy. In fact, I don't really like hard rock or electric guitar music. But I love that song for this podcast because I think it perfectly fits the vibe of my podcast branding. (Watch me get inducted into the Podcast Hall of Fame to hear my “walk out music” that actually fits me better!)
3. Consider the timing
An effective branding refresh will take time to do it with excellence. So consider not only how much time the process will take, but when is actually the right time to launch the new branding.
For example, if your show is seasonal (and for good reasons, I hope!), the start of a new season could be a great time to launch the new branding—either with the first episode of that season, or with the trailer preceding the new season.
Other good times for a branding refresh could be around milestone episodes or anniversaries. Learn more in my previous episode/article about when to refresh your podcast branding:
- When your podcast significantly changes
- When your branding stops growing with you
- When you enter new “seasons”
- When you can improve the quality
- When there's enough compelling feedback
- When you determine the benefits outweigh the “costs”
It's also best if you can time your branding refresh to launch in all your properties at the same time. Super-loyal fans of The Audacity to Podcast might have noticed that it took me about a year before I updated the website to match the new branding in the podcast. If I wasn't going through the personal hardships at that time, the best thing for me to do would have been to launch the new site with the new visual and audio branding in the podcast. But when I did a complete rebrand of My Podcast Reviews to Podgagement, I launched it all together: the app redesign, the website redesign, the new logo, the new domain, even the new social IDs.
4. Prepare your audience
Although a branding refresh is not as major as an actual rebrand, it might be good to announce it to your audience ahead of time, especially if your show doesn't use seasons for good reasons. This can reduce potential confusion when someone's podcast library suddenly looks different and they can't find your podcast because it looks different from before (if you did a visual branding refresh).
You could mention the upcoming refresh in your episodes leading up to it. But my recommendation would be to publish a separate episode as a “trailer” specifically to announce the upcoming refresh. And then a couple of weeks after you launch the new branding, you can easily delete that announcement episode.
The more drastically different the new branding is, the more important it will be to prepare your audience for it.
5. Decide to delegate or DIY
Refreshing your podcast branding will cost! It will obviously cost money if you delegate it to someone you hire. It could also cost you time if you do it yourself—and maybe a lot of time if you're not skilled or comfortable with the process.
The first place I recommend looking for help would be within your own audience. For example, No Agenda, with Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak, makes a big deal about letting their audience contribute artwork and reusable audio elements for every episode. Look at NoAgendaArtGenerator.com for examples of all the thousands of submissions they've received!
Feel free to have fun with it, like running a contest (with or without prizes), having your audience vote, or making a game of it. Just be prepared with how you might handle it if your audience doesn't give you very high quality work or they don't respond well to your decision.
If you want to hire a highly skilled professional to help, here are my recommendations:
- Visual branding: Mark Des Cotes at PodcastBranding.co (an alternative would be 99designs, but probably not Fiverr)
- Drawn visual branding: James Kennison from DrawYouaPicture.com
- Complete audio branding: Music Radio Creative or hire out for pieces of your branding with some people on Fiverr
- Content or presentation branding: a podcast consultant, such as me, Dave Jackson, Erik K. Johnson, or whoever is your favorite
- Video branding: maybe someone from Fiverr (but I'm looking for a better recommendation!)
And if you have the tools, skills, and determination to do it yourself, expect to spend way too much time obsessing over some particular details.
When I was doing the complete rebuild and rebranding from My Podcast Reviews to Podgagement, I kept hitting mental walls with the new logo. So I reached out to James Kennison since I knew he's a great artist and extremely creative. We went back and forth over some of my rough ideas, but nothing was working very well and he was actually about to give up. But then a moment of inspiration hit him and I fell in love with his new idea, which became the logo! (Can you spot the hidden thing in the Podgagement logo? When you see it, you'll recognize why I loved James's brilliance so much!)
6. Avoid clichés like the plague …
I hope you know the visual podcast clichés by now: microphones, RSS icons, headphones, audio waveforms, and all the stuff that visually represents podcasting, but most likely not what your podcast is actually about. Unless your podcast is about microphones, audio, and such, then you should avoid using those visual clichés in your branding probably 99.99% of the time. And even the remaining 0.01%, I would still challenge you to avoid the clichés.
Your particular niche might also have its own clichés. Those might be okay to use, but I still recommend thinking outside the cliché first!
For example, I once designed podcast cover art for a Christian podcast that was all about the working of the Holy Spirit. But my client was very clear that they did not want the cliché dove in the design. I think that was a great decision!
There are non-visual clichés, too, both in the podcasting industry and probably within your niche. For example, avoid using “on fire” or “thinking outside the box” in your podcast title. Maybe even avoiding naming the show after yourself! Check out my previous episode/article to learn more about what you should avoid in your podcast title.
There can be clichés with music, too. In the early days of podcasting, it seemed like half the podcasts were using the same music from GarageBand because there weren't many affordable alternatives back then. Now, there are so many great options (my favorite is PremiumBeat) and so many more podcasts that you'll likely not pick the same thing as someone else.
Another sort of cliché is trying to be like someone or something else. For example, trying to make the epic movie-trailer voice. But note that I said, “trying.” If you actually have that great voice, use it!
But even then, it might seem too cliché to use the movie trailer style for your audio branding in trailers or episodes.
Colors can even be cliché! For example, the old My Podcast Reviews branding color was the purple color from Apple Podcasts! And I've now seen too many podcasting apps and services use a similar color to Apple Podcasts. But I chose the new Podgagement branding color scheme completely separate from anything else, and inspired and driven by the concepts the new rocket logo was already promoting.
7. Break some rules
And here's my favorite “rule”: break rules! But do so intentionally and with good reasons.
For example, red is generally considered a bad color, and yet it very perfectly communicates the theme of boldness for The Audacity to Podcast. And that's why red is now my branding color.
There might be some clichés that you need to use in order to better clarify what your podcast is about.
In other words, don't pick something just because you like it or avoid it just because it's cliché. Instead, make choices—even breaking rules if necessary—when you have a good “why” behind it.
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