After considering the benefits of refreshing your podcast branding, you need to decide when it's the right time to do so. Here are some suggestions!
A metaphor you could imagine is that podcast branding is like your wardrobe. When do you change what kinds of clothes you wear? You most likely do that based on weather, current styles, fit, and condition. You can think of your podcast branding in the same way!
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. When your podcast significantly changes
All podcasts will change and—I hope—mature over time. But you might decide to significantly change your podcast in a short amount of time. For example:
- Niche/focus: instead of talking about cake-decorating, you switch to focusing on the business of cake-baking.
- Subject: instead of being a podcast about dating, you change it into a podcast about marketing and networking.
- People: you add or remove a regular cohost, or you change your target audience (while keeping the rest of your podcast mostly the same).
- Brand: you do more than only a “branding refresh” but a complete rebrand.
These and other significant changes are a good time to refresh your branding to make it match and support the new changes.
2. When your branding stops growing with you
Like with clothing, you might someday outgrow your branding. This isn't the result of an immediate, significant change (like #1 above), but the gradual process of how your podcast changes over time. So you're looking for something that fits better now and with the hopes that it will last for a long time.
Although not podcast branding, this is a big reason I'm rebuilding My Podcast Reviews and actually rebranding it this year. I currently refer to it by the codename “v2,” and it will be built on all-new code that will grow much better with the service, a new brand that will grow with the features, and lots of all-new features that will grow with you and your podcast! I hope you'll check out My Podcast Reviews and watch for v2 launching in summer 2023!
You might have been an amateur podcaster when you started, but you're now a highly skilled host. Make sure your branding fits how you and your podcast have grown!
3. When you enter new “seasons”
I think “podcast seasons” are a commonly misunderstood thing in podcasting. Listen to my episodes, “Should You Podcast in Seasons?” and “Should You Include Seasons in Podcast Episode Titles?” to learn more about effectively using seasons with your podcast.
If your seasons bring new themes, then that can be a great time to do some mild brand-refreshing. I don't mean a complete redesign that makes your podcast unrecognizable, but something that continues some of the same elements while giving them a fresh look—just like how every new menu item from Taco Bell is the same few ingredients merely in a different form!
If you change the artwork for every podcast season, try to keep the overall look consistent. For example, look at how some TV shows maintain the same look in each season's physical packaging. You can look at any season of the branding and clearly recognize it, but you'll also see obvious differences between each season.
Even if your podcast doesn't publish on a seasonal schedule or have thematic seasons, you might still look for new “seasons” of your podcast. Just like how we talk about different seasons or chapters of life. These “seasons” might not have definite beginnings and endings (but they could), and they're far less rigid than traditional seasons.
For example, I used to say that my former clean-comedy podcast had four “seasons,” based on our approach to the content. The only way our audience knew about those seasons was from our talking about them. Even these pseudo-seasons could have been good times to refresh our branding—and that's exactly what we did with one of those “seasons.”
4. When you can improve the quality
One of my favorite things I've heard my older brother say is, “You don't have to be a rocket scientist—even though I am.” And in podcasting, you don't have to be a graphic designer, professional audio engineer, or acclaimed marketing and branding manager to have great podcast branding. If you're independent and podcasting as a hobby, you probably can't invest in high-quality stuff. That's okay! You can upgrade your branding later, either when you have more skills, or when you can afford to get the right help—or maybe even have someone in your audience who would love to give back to your podcast with some great branding!
This and reason #2, “when your branding stops growing with you,” were the biggest reasons I refreshed the branding of The Audacity to Podcast a few years ago. I knew the old visual branding didn't convey how my podcast had grown—both in professionalism and in purpose. The old branding looked dated, low quality, and was actually very difficult to work with in my own graphic design—and I was the one who made the branding!
And even though I've used the same music for The Audacity to Podcast since the beginning (“Vegas Shuffle,” by Charlie Crowe), I improved the quality of my audio branding by actually reducing it. It used to take me up to 90 seconds just to get through my audio and spoken branding before getting into the unique episode content. Now, you hear something unique from the first second, and then I'm usually fully into the episode content only about 10 seconds later.
So maybe your podcast branding could use a refresh to be much better!
5. When there's enough compelling feedback
I've seen podcasters swayed by only a single piece of negative feedback. I've even seen podcasters swayed by only a single piece of positive feedback. Unfortunately, these have sometimes not been in the right direction.
So I'm not suggesting that you refresh your branding whenever anyone says something negative about your existing branding. Instead, I suggest looking for how compelling the feedback is: either by breadth or by depth.
That feedback will usually come from your audience, but it might also come from your peers, your cohost(s), your guest(s), people you've hired to work with you (like hiring me!), or even from your own mind! Each of these has its own weight that you must determine yourself.
Just remember that some people hate change, and some people just love to hate.
The most valuable feedback (and try to practice this whenever you give feedback) is what offers possible solutions, especially with reasons. For example, low-value feedback could be, “Red is bad; don't use red.” But high-value feedback could be, “Your show is all about growth and friendship, so instead of red, you might want to consider greens or blues, which convey growth and friendliness. Or maybe even a warm orange that could feel like you're huddled around a campfire.”
6. When you determine the benefits outweigh the “costs”
It might not be a strong single reason that helps you decide to refresh your branding but the sum of multiple things. Listen to my previous episode, “6 Benefits of a Podcast Branding Refresh,” to learn more about some of those good things a branding refresh might bring you, your podcast, and your audience.
For a quick review, those 6 things are:
- 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
When you can objectively determine your podcast would greatly benefit from a branding refresh, and it's a good time to do it, then press on and make it great!
Top resources to help refresh your podcast branding
There are many places you can hire designers to help you with a visual 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.
For audio branding, I recommend Music Radio Creative.
I usually recommend against Fiver because I've seen too much low-quality work and even intellectual-property theft.
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