Updated: Jan 19
Podcasts are all the rage these days and I’m fully on board. Before I started freelancing, they made my commute to and from work something I rather enjoyed. Just pick the show that suits your mood at the time, put your headphones on and tune out the world.
Today, there seems to be a real market for podcast artwork. In fact, one of my earliest design gigs was to design podcast cover art for my friend’s Wrong Station Podcast, for which he paid me in wine.
Now that the podcast world has become a thriving industry, there’s a growing need for podcast cover art designers, podcast artwork creators, podcast logo designers … there’s no formal name, but you get the idea.
If you want your podcast to bring its A game, you need to invest in its design. Here are five reasons why designing podcast artwork is a lot like designing a logo.
1. YOUR PODCAST ARTWORK NEEDS TO STAND OUT IN A SATURATED MARKET
The popularity of podcasts has exploded over the last few years. Currently, there are about 900,000 podcasts available for your listening pleasure… and that number has nearly doubled since 2018, where in this Variety article they claimed Apple Podcasts featured more than 500,000 active podcasts at the time.
And the number of people who have a podcast — from your friends to your favourite celebrities — continues to grow. With that being said, don’t underestimate the value of designing your podcast cover art with intention.
The old adage of don’t judge a book by its cover no longer applies. Frankly, in today’s digital world you need to be able to grab someone’s attention in mere seconds before they scroll or swipe onto the next.
So, how do you create the best podcast artwork?
2. YOUR PODCAST ARTWORK NEEDS ITS OWN VISUAL IDENTITY
Sure, you can turn to Google for a podcast artwork generator and you may end up with a decent result for your cover art — but just remember, you get what you pay for.
If you want your podcast to be taken seriously, treat your podcast’s creative like you would your personal brand. For all intents and purposes, you are creating a brand for your show. That means it needs its own visual identity.
If I were creating a brand identity for you, some of the questions I would get you to answer are:
who are you?
what do you do?
why does it matter?
what is the tone of your brand?
who is your target demographic?
All of these answers will help guide the design of your podcast artwork towards a visual that will reflect your brand and, if done properly, attract and resonate with your ideal audience.
3. KNOW YOUR PODCAST AUDIENCE
Which brings me to my next point: know your podcast audience. Not unlike designing a logo, understanding who you’re catering to is a fundamental step to successful branding.
This is equally as true for your podcast audience. Really spend some time defining who your target audience will be. By understanding who they are, what they do, their hobbies and interests allows you to design the creative (and even your show content) that will most likely appeal to them.
4. PODCAST ARTWORK NEEDS TO BE SCALABLE
One of the question I ask my clients before designing a logo is where the logo will likely be used. If their logo needs to work successfully on a tiny product label as well as a large billboard or banner, this factors into the design.
This applies to podcast art as well. Podcasts aren’t just listened to on phones anymore. More and more listeners stream their podcasts through a range of devices including their TV.
Your podcast cover art needs to be legible as a small square thumbnail on your phone as well as the larger devices. Not to mention your other avenues of marketing your podcast. We’ll touch on that next.
5. WHAT’S YOUR PODCAST MARKETING STRATEGY?
Beyond your podcast logo or cover art, how do you plan to market your podcast? Understanding your podcast marketing strategy is not unlike developing your brand strategy. Giving this some serious thought ahead of designing your podcast artwork will help frame your design approach.
You’ll likely be creating social media accounts for your podcast, what type of content will you post? A few of my podcasting clients have had me create social media templates to post quotes from their episodes. How will your social media content reflect your podcast’s artwork design?
Are you creating a website for your podcast? How are designing your website so that it’s cohesive with your podcast’s visual identity? What type of content will you offer here that will provide value for your listeners?
As an example, for Brenda Terry’s Mind Revolution Podcast, she offers free resources and worksheets to her listeners. All of these designs have to reflect the overall look and feel of her podcast’s brand. These are the types of things you need to start considering as you create your podcast.
HOW TO DESIGN THE BEST PODCAST COVER ART
My advice for you is to start by browsing through the endless shows that are available. Which podcast artwork designs really stand out for you. What are the specific elements that make you do a double-take? Is it colour? Contrast? The style? Is it text-heavy or illustrative? Is it super simple?
Make note of what appeals to you, what works and what doesn’t. Use these examples as your inspirational resource.
Armed with creative inspo, start to outline the who, what, and why of your podcast. I would encourage you to try my Discovery Questionnaire that I use with my branding clients to help you focus the direction of your podcast creative.
If you’ve got an original podcast idea and are invested in making a podcast that you know will provide valuable content for an audience out there, then don’t skip on the creative. Working with a designer to create your podcast artwork goes beyond the cover art outcome. A great designer will guide the design by evaluating your goals, audience, and strategize for the best possible outcome.