Good news and bad news. The good news is you’ve conceptualized a podcast, collected the proper equipment, and met dozens of creative, interesting people to guest-star on your show. The bad news is that the hard work has only just begun.
Marketing is a complicated and oftentimes mentally and financially expensive science; and even then it’s more often an art than a science. One major part of marketing is the visual branding behind your podcast — that means the cover art, your logo, and the organization/presentation of your social media pages. Fortunately, there are a few simple rules to live by when it comes to developing your graphic design and visual branding strategy.
Rule #1: Simple, not generic.
You want to set your podcast apart, not send it into the ether. It may be tempting to opt for one extreme or the other; for example, choosing a classic, pre-programmed default typeface like Arial or Helvetica for your logo, and slapping it on top of some free stock photography as your cover art. Or perhaps the opposite: downloading the most bubbly, cutesy font you can find online and executing an entire photoshoot complete with costumes, lighting, and a rented loft space. The reality is that neither of these options are likely to result in more clicks and listens. You want a new user to be able to easily read your logo if they’re quickly scrolling past rows and rows and shows on Spotify, and you want someone with an impairment like dyslexia to be able to identify the tone and theme of your show just from the shapes and colors you’ve used on your cover art. Sans serif typefaces are a safe bet, since they can be easier to read from a distance and are typically more modern and visually appealing overall. The most-often used colors on action movie posters are orange and blue, since they’re proven to be the most visually stimulating and attention-grabbing even without the context of a logo. A more subdued podcast may benefit from art that reflects that tone — for example, dark, single-layered colors under a bolded white title may be more effective than art that seemingly screams for attention amidst its competition. Lastly, try to stick to the golden rule of typographic design: no more than 2 different typefaces, and 3 different colors on a single cover.
Rule #2: Plan ahead.
When you’re beginning to market your podcast, it’s important to present your brand as something well-established rather than an amateur work thrown together last-minute. This shows trust in your brand, and therefore trust in the advice, ideas, and thoughts you share on your podcast. Before launching your podcast, make sure your Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter accounts have a few posts already live — perhaps you can even include a countdown until your launch date. You may also consider color-blocking or theme-blocking your Instagram page. This requires a little extra planning and editing, but your page will be visually stunning to scroll through and will add an air of professionalism to your brand. A successful example of theme-blocking is Reynolds (@reynoldskitchens). With a little advanced scheduling and thoughtful design, the brand successfully created the illusion of one long, continuous table, harkening back to the brand’s messaging of togetherness, family, and sharing. Foundr Magazine (@foundr) went a more geographic and text-based route, sectioning their posts based on color to create long diamond-like patterns reminiscent of wealth and elitism. You don’t have to theme your social media around colors or patterns, but you must always remain consistent. A social media page for an accounting or legal podcast should not be brimming with memes and comics, for example.
Rule #3: Use Occam’s Razor with care.
Sometimes the best solution is the easiest one. But sometimes it’s not. Using basic stock photography or recycled quotes from Pinterest may be the shortest and most basic route, but it’s not necessarily the best choice for your brand. You certainly don’t need to shell out thousands of dollars for custom professional photography, but you don’t want to appear as though you typed in the word “business” or “true crime” into Google and downloaded the first photo you came across. Primarily because you don’t always know if you have the rights to use that image, but also because it looks lazy and boring to your audience. If you’re at a loss for visuals, consider a blank, single-color background with a quote from one of your guests. Perhaps a friend of a friend is a photographer and is willing to send you some of their unused footage in exchange for credit on your pages. Think outside the box when it comes to what you share on your social media. There’s no rule that says you have to use action photography or quotes– you can share meaningful articles or news, photos of the people or places featured on your show, excerpts from upcoming episodes to drum up excitement, or even nothing at all. If your podcast doesn’t require a lot of visual aids or if an Instagram page wouldn’t add much value to your work, stick with Twitter and/or LinkedIn, which are primarily copy-based sites. There’s a lot of rules when it comes to visual branding, but none when it comes to how you choose to market your own podcast!
Of course, if all of the above seems overwhelming, Mr. Thrive Media can do the hard work for you. Find out about our branding and social media services here!