FYB 120 | Podcast Brand

When you have a podcast, you must know that it’s very important for your name to stand out and pique the interest of your target market. How will you bring your words together to form something compelling for them? How do you build your podcast brand that makes it fun to check out? Join your hosts Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard as they discuss effective strategies in building your podcast branding for increased audience engagement. Are you simple and descriptive of it? Does your name fit what the topic of your podcast is all about? Dive deep into this episode to learn how to create a stronger trademark, add value to your listeners’ experience, and grow your business.

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Building Your Podcast Brand To Solidify Your Presence In The Digital World

We are going to talk about podcast branding, and there are few things to consider here. It’s going to be a fun topic.

There’s this prevalent idea that your podcast branding should be so clever. It should be cute, clever and has this fun Hollywood feel to it. That is a mistake for most of our client-based here, the business-to-business, the ones who are going out for the business-to-consumer or business-to-business. They’re utilizing podcasting to grow that business. That cleverness that we often see in ones like my least favorite one out there, the NBC Show with Kate Snow called The Drink.

Is that a podcast?

Yes, it’s her podcast. Every time she says it on the Nightly News, I want to cringe. It’s like, “Join me for my podcast, The Drink.” I’m like, “What does that mean?” It so turns me off that I don’t even want to check it out. That’s when it’s not clear about what it’s like. Is it a couple of girls having drinks together? Is it her having a cocktail on a Friday night with interesting guests from around the world? That might be something, but Cocktails and Conversations sounds better than The Drink.

When I hear The Drink, I’m thinking in golf when you hit a ball, you shank it and it goes in a pond or something, you say, “It went in the drink.” That’s not considered a flattering thing.

Every time I hear it, I think, “This isn’t good.” Someone thought it was clever and wanted to give it this name. What also got me thinking about it was Maria Speck. She is a great copyright attorney and a litigator on that. She gave a talk at a CEO Space Conference that I was giving a speech at as well. I listened to her because she fascinates me when she talks about copyright, the new rules and all of these things that she was talking about. She was talking about trademarks, copyrights and other things but she was specifically talking about trademarks being of three different kinds.

I think of the first one as being clever but she called it whimsical. It has some whimsy to it, meaning that you’ve created a word. When we created Podetize, we merged Podcast and Monetize together and turned it into Podetize. We created something that had whimsy to it. The next type of trademarks, logos, phrases or names of things, why we’re talking about names of things is because it’s the same for your podcast. You may not want to trademark it but then you might, so it might be of consideration is using an unusual word to mean something else. Like Apple being related to a computer and not a fruit. Amazon to be used to create a gigantic website, warehouse, all of those things and not being used to describe the jungle in South America.

Utilizing a word that everybody knows but using it for some other thing to describe something. That’s another trademarkable thing. Sometimes you can get into trouble and those don’t always work but then the other one is when you make something very clear. You’re clearly describing something by bringing words together.

Podetize does two things. It’s bringing podcasting and monetization together in that but we’ve created it in a whimsical way. We created two things that give us a more defensible and stronger trademark at the end of the day, which is a good thing. We want to do the same thing with your podcasts’ needs with the branding of what you have. We want to make it clear because those that are clear are better. We wanted to add a little twist to whimsy, cleverness or fun to it but we wanted to start with that.

Back when we named our first podcast WTFFF!?, WTF was a big podcast out there. Marc Maron had interviewed President Obama and so he was a big splash about podcasters in their garage and WTF. People were typing that in and looking for that show all the time. We thought we’d love to trail off of that but we added the whimsy of it making it FFF for Fused Filament Fabrication, which is the geeky term for 3D Printing. The geeky people out there had a chuckle.

We also added a question mark and an exclamation point after the last F, which added a little more curiosity.

Be careful of that. You can’t add multiple question marks or multiple exclamation points anymore. They have a problem with that at Apple.

Bring podcasting and monetization together in a whimsical way. Click To Tweet

At the time, we got away with it. It was a play on words and it was a joke because it did not mean the traditional WTF acronym. WT is What The and then FFF represented the geeky term for 3D Printing, which is Fused Filament Fabrication. It was a name and on our cover art, it picked a lot of curiosity. It got people to say, “What is that? I want to click to learn more.”

Keep in mind, Marc Maron’s podcast WTF was geared. There were lots of VCs and Silicon Valley people who followed his podcast and listened to it. It had that cult in the tech industry. It had grown up there. If somebody was typing, looking for WTF and ours showed up, they’d be like, “That sounds cool. I want to hear about 3D printing.”

Clearly on our podcast cover art, it said WTFFF!? 3D Printing as well. We were clear about what we were for and what it was about right on our cover art so you would know instantly what you were getting that you weren’t getting on Marc’s show. By any means, you were getting a totally different show but it may have contributed. We don’t have any kind of information from Apple that says, “People search for WTF and then clicked on you.” I wish we could have that information but our show grew to 25,000 listeners in five months. That was fast growth.

I can only say it was because we were clear about what we did there. We’ve since done that again and again with clients. We’ve done this well over 500 times. What we see works better is this clearness in what your show is about, mixed with a little bit of cleverness or play on words if you can do it and get away with it or if you can create a twist on what your topic is and get that through in both the name that you choose and the cover art that you create that goes with it, the podcast branding.

It’s very important when you’re considering your podcast brand, your podcast name to understand the purpose of the name. The purpose of the name is not necessarily to be super descriptive of what the show is about. Keep in mind, most people when they’re going to search in their podcast app on their phone are going to search based on subjects they want to hear. It’s keyword searching. “I want to listen to a show about this or that.” All that’s important is what’s going to happen.

People aren’t going to search for your name. If they don’t know your name, they’re not going to search for it. If they’re searching for your name, you already won the battle. They know what they want to listen to. They search for your name and find your show. You want to come up based on subjects. When you’re in the list of a dozen podcasts that come up in the search based on the keywords, you want your name to jump off the screen on your phone or your computer.

You want to intrigue them and also be able to say, “That’s what I’m looking for.” I liked this a lot more to the way that Amazon books listings go. When we’re looking for books on Amazon, we’re searching in a category, business books, books on investing or books on mindset, whatever that might be. We’re searching in with keywords in mind and then we get a bunch of little icons or a list. We look at that and go down there and decide which ones to click on. The reality is we don’t have a lot of time to spend trying to figure out what your clever name means if it’s not clear to us.

If you have a clearness to it in the clever name, I’m going to check it out. Here are a few that I would bring forward that I thought were fun, ones that I love. First off, I love Take Back Time by Penny Zenker. She’s been one of our long-term clients here. It’s so clear, actionable and totally what I want. When that shows up under productivity, I’m all there. It’s super simple. The impact of the cover art with the clock radiating and looking like the energy there is like the energization of getting more time in. It’s awesome. That one is one of my favorites. For those of you reading, Tom is doing this wiggle thing with his head trying to look for it.

Take Back Time is very effective. Not only in its name. It’s clear but it’s also not. This is a podcast about productivity. It’s not just descriptive. It’s like, “Productivity, it’s not getting me excited but I need productivity so maybe I’ll give it a try.” Take Back Time is like, “What is that? I need to take back time. I’m clicking that.”

A couple of them are in the money side of things because we get a lot of people who are always looking for them and a lot of them are boring, let me tell you. You get the word finance in there and money. It goes over but I like these too, Frugal Friends. It’s all about budgeting. That’s a lot of fun. A couple of moms are talking about budgeting. Bad With Money. That one’s the opposite. Usually, we want to give them something aspirational but there’s something deprecating about that. That intrigues you like, “That’s me. I’m not alone in the world. I should go check that out.”

Everybody loves to gawk at a train wreck or a car crash as sad as these people get hurt but the reality is if you’re bad at money, it’s like, “Are these stories about people that have made some horrible mistakes? I have to listen to that.”

It’s going to make you click and check out the description and then you’re going to go, “That sounds like a great show. I got to check this out. It sounds fun and funny. It also sounds like I might learn something in the process.” These are some great names. I’ve got one of my favorite ones that I love, Dr. Elizabeth Hoefer, Get Your Head On Straight! She’s a Chiropractor. It’s an awesome show where she’s talking not just about chiropractic but about how chiropractic clears your mind and makes things better for you. The cover art is awesome because it’s got her head crooked on there.

FYB 120 | Podcast Brand

Podcast Brand: Create a twist on your topic and get that through in both the name you choose and the cover art you create that goes with the podcast branding.

 

It’s a caricature.

It’s a great descriptive show but it’s got a fun title that has a tie-in to being about chiropractic but not so much straight-in-your-face chiropractic, the chiropractic news or chiropractic conversations. Not that there’s anything wrong with those. It’s just they don’t sound as much fun to check out so we’re mixing that up. I love that one. I got a couple of sports ones for you, Tom. My dad was talking to me about golf. I thought I’ll go for the golf podcast. How do you like Barstool Sports’ Fore Play? It’s clear on the cover art. It has a golf club and a golf ball. It’s clear what it’s about. It says Barstool Sports right on it. I want to know about that. It sounds interesting.

That’s another example of a podcast name and/or cover art. The name Barstool Sports, we clearly know it’s sports and Fore Play maybe with the name itself. In writing, you wouldn’t necessarily get that it’s about golf. Although if you think about it long enough, maybe you would but initially, people respond to visual stimulus a lot faster than written words. When you see that golf on there, the combination of the two, it’s like, “I’m clicking that.”

My other one that they also have in the sports section is Get a Grip. It’s the handle of the golf club and a golf ball on the cover art. It’s awesome. Those are some great ones. Here’s the thing. I’m going to give you a few lessons that we go over here but I don’t want you to overdo it or overthink this to the point. These are fun and probably some of these people, Barstool Sports, have a team of people figuring out good names there. You have a team too. Use the Brandcaster’s Facebook group to help you solve and run names by others.

Don’t be afraid to share it in the group. Almost everybody already has a podcast or is on their way to start it. You’re not going to overlap. They’re not going to take your name but they might have some great twists and great suggestions. Scott Carson, The Note Closers Show is always amazingly fantastic at coming up with a whole brainstorm. When we get stumped, we text him and he gives us a whole list of ideas. There’s a team of people here for you to help out. Ask around. This is one thing. Don’t be afraid to share this and ask about it with a group of people that you belong with.

Tracy, before you go on, I want to give one other little example because what I want people to understand is this isn’t just something that you would do at the time that you’re launching a show. A lot of people come to us about rebranding their show whether that’s at the end of a season, they reach a milestone number of episodes or something. Don’t be afraid if your show name isn’t set in the world on fire in terms of click engagement. You can pivot and rename it. It’s not cast in stone. You’re not permanently locked into it. It can change and then tomorrow it’s out there in the podcast universe, it will be different.

I want to give an example. I’m not going to out the person’s name because I didn’t ask their permission but there was a podcast about sales that came to us. The show was the person’s name. I’m just going to use John Smith for it. It was The John Smith Show. He may have been known in certain circles in his sales industry, but sales is a very big industry. Unless you’re a nationally known celebrity, having the show in your name isn’t going to cause a lot of people that click and try it out. This is a good example. We worked with him to come up with what would a better name for the show be. It took some time to learn about what his perspective on sales was and his intention. He wasn’t just another sales podcast. There was a lot more to it. What we came up with was a name called The Selling Dilemma.

You outed him.

I didn’t because he never changed the show name, Tracy. It’s not out there. If you go search on that show, you’re not going to find it. We went through it. We did all this rebranding. At the end of the day, for whatever reason, he wasn’t comfortable doing it. He stayed where he was, The John Smith Show. It’s his show and he’s welcome to do that but I guarantee you, The Selling Dilemma would be getting a lot more clicks when you’re going to type in such a broad category as something about sales and there are awful lots of shows about that. That Selling Dilemma, the word, the name itself is like, “What is The Selling Dilemma?” It piques curiosity and builds anticipation. I would at least click that to find out more.

This is a case when I said the Tom Hazzard Show. Even if the show is all about you, wouldn’t it be a more fun show if it was Hazzardous Tales or something like that? Thinking about that, that’s where we want to create that intriguing idea that we want to go forward. I tell this story all the time when I give lessons on branding.

Back when I was writing articles for Inked Magazine a few years ago, someone came to me and said, “You wrote these stories on branding. I’d love for you to write a story about my boss. Our brand is called Big Ass Fans and my boss has fired three different branding companies who wanted him to change the name. Would you like the story?” I wanted the story so I invited her boss on the show and he was hilarious. It was such a good interview. I got what I needed out of it and wrote this article about their branding and their names. Originally, they were called HVLC, which has to do with High Voltage Low Currency fans, which is such an engineering technical term.

It’s definitely a company owned by an engineer.

Do not be afraid to take a risk and change your podcast name if you need to. There's no harm in pivoting. Click To Tweet

He is, but what happened is that the fans were not being installed into facilities and homes. These were being installed into stadiums. I bet their business is booming because everybody needs great ventilation in their offices and their buildings. The fan is very big. These blades are 6 feet long sometimes. People would call them and they answer the phone HVLC. People would go, “Are you those guys with the big ass fans?” That’s how the name came up. It happens so often that they were like, “Big Ass Fans.” Somebody did one day and it’s stuck. They changed their whole branding over it. It’s brilliant. Many times, you’d hired branding firms and they said, “You have to lose this name. It’s offensive.”

The reality is that’s the thing that’s so clear. Their audiences, facility managers, these guys who are going to do the maintenance and installation of these things were the right audience who responded to the name and wanted it descriptive and clear as to what it was and what it was for. It’s worked out well for them. Their business has grown because of it. They were afraid to change the name at that point again because what if the business dropped. They’d been doing so well.

This is why I bring this up even though this has nothing to do with podcast naming but this is where we get into the branding naming. Are we out there as being clear about what we’re doing? The clearer the names are, the easier it is for somebody to come to check that out and know that they’re in the right place. If they’re out there looking for something, wouldn’t it be a shame that because you put your name all over it and they didn’t know who you were that they skip it? They don’t even check it out.

Unfortunately, it’s a common rookie error in podcasting to say, “I’m the host. I want to be a person of integrity. I’m going to put my name.”

Your name is on it. You’re the host.

This isn’t a car dealership. I get it if you got a Chevy dealership or any kind of car dealership. There’s a brand and then, “Who’s the person behind that dealership who I can trust?” There’s where you want to use your name but in the podcast, your name is always going to be there as the host with some so-and-so. Hosted by whatever. The name’s job is to get people to click and give it a try. You want to look at it through that lens. If it’s humorous, clever. If it’s a plan, words, put a smile on someone’s face, makes them chuckle so much, the better.

Not all podcast names do that. Certainly, don’t have to but you’ve got to realize that there’s a time and a place to be descriptive about what your show is. It’s not in the title. Unless it can be done in very short and it’s a twist on things like Take Back Time was. You have a subtitle and a description of your show to be as descriptive as you want. You got to get people to give it a try to click. It’s got to impact.

The first thing I want you to do if you’re concerned about the name that you have or you still haven’t figured out what your name is going to be is I want you to go check your main category. If you’re in the money and investing or health and wellness, check the main big category and then check the subcategory. I want you to see what everybody else has called because lots of them are boring out there. You want to make sure that you’re standing out and differentiating yourselves both in color, in impact of the visual and in the name itself. If everybody is in a very descriptive world then you’re going to have to work a little hard to be clever and descriptive at the same time.

Home Run Hiring is a podcast about HR, Human Resources and recruiting. It’s not the most exciting subject in the world but if you’re in business and you need support there, you’re going to go listen to that. Are you going to listen to a show that says The Human Resources Today? Are you going to click Home Run Hiring?

I think there is one called HR Today.

There may be but Home Run Hiring jumps off the page. It’s going to get your attention and get you to click to give it a try.

I do this every single year. When we started Feed Your Brand, our cover was black and green. We had feed and it looked like things sprouting. It was all the social media icons.

FYB 120 | Podcast Brand

Podcast Brand: When you’re considering your podcast brand, it’s important to understand the purpose of the name. The purpose of the name is not necessarily to be super descriptive of what the show is about.

 

It was like you’re looking at a garden and each one of the social media icons was like the flower of a plant that was growing at different levels.

Our podcasts’ RSS feed is in the middle because we’re talking about feeds and feeding our brand to do that. It’s a play on that. We had that name going. We had this green and black cover art. A year later, Libsyn comes out with theirs and calls theirs The Feed, and they use black and green. We said, “That’s it.” We changed ours. It’s time to pivot because I’m not going to stay the same. I don’t want someone to come and think I copied them, even though we started ours first. We don’t want to be in that place. We’re going to go, keep moving ahead and be original.

The next pivot we did was a blue Podetize colors thing going on, the two tones of blue. What we realized is because we’ve incorporated Feed Your Brand into the Podetize website, it’s too brandy and similar. We don’t like that. We never loved that corporate brand look on our podcast because if it’s a corporate brand associated then people feel that we only have a podcast to sell them something and there’s no value in it. We pride ourselves in the fact that we’re adding so much value to you whether you’re our client or not. That’s what we want to get across. Our color weight is white background and it’s got a microphone in there so it’s clear what you’re about.

It’s got the podcasting, the Feed Your Brand going on there and white and dark blue. All of that is working for us. We keep pivoting that. We changed the WTFFF!? colors and logo 4 to 5 times over the years we’ve done it. It’s okay to do that. Update it. Shift it by checking this. That’s why at the end of every year and the beginning of the next, somewhere in that timeframe, I check and see what’s going on in that category. Do that same thing. Keep it updated and keep it moving.

Sometimes, we’ve twisted it and we’ve added words, taken away words or shift the name slightly. Those are things that can happen. We can also create spinoffs. I was interviewing someone who had a podcast for the last few years. They have over 600 episodes. He’s changed his name four times, I think. They completely rebranded the show within the same feed four times. It’s perfectly fine.

The reality of our brand named Podetize is that’s our third brand name in this business. It took us time for that brand to evolve. It’s not an easy thing to do. I’m going to admit that but once we came up with Podetize, we’re like, “That’s it. We’re home.” That’s why we filed to register that trademark.

An interesting graphic trend that’s going on is if you are out there looking at the pivot that’s happening in big brands like Burger King and lots of companies that you see their brand every single day, you’re seeing a flattening of the graphics so a flattening of the brand. When you look at our Podetize “o,” that’s got the microphone in the middle and the two colors, that flatness, we were ahead of the trend of what’s going on. Why is that happening? It’s happening because everybody is doing a mobile-first design and the high contrast or the ability to see three-dimensional. It’s harder to view it on your phone. There’s a lack of clarity. Icons and stuff get smaller.

We want to take up as much space as possible. We need to think of it like a two-color, a four-color, whatever it is. It’s more of like an old print style of graphics but we’re doing it because mobile-first is the model here. Also there’s an ADA issue. There is ADA compliance for many companies who serve the public or a large enough. Color contrast and the visibility clearness of your logos and your names matter in that case. They’re doing that as well.

Once you’ve got all of this done and you’ve checked out your research, you’ve looked at what you’ve got going on, I want you to think about these three things. This is what we’re going to leave you with. Think about these three things in terms of how you’re coming up with your list of names. I want you to go and run it by your target audience, the type of people you want to listen to it. Their opinion is more important than all of us right here in the podcasting groups. They’re more important than your mom and dad. The people who you want to listen to your show, we want them to find it attractive and that’s critically important.

The three things that you’re going to be thinking about as you’re naming it is that, “Is my name simple and descriptive?” How I Built This, that’s a great show. “Are we being simple and descriptive of it?” The Binge Factor. That’s what I’m talking about and everyone wants to know what that is. No weird spellings. You don’t want to use weird spellings. I know it is an issue. You are going to have to say every time you’re on air like, “This is how you spell it.” That’s why we don’t do Hazzardous whenever we can avoid it or when we do it, we buy both spellings.

We have a show called Product Launch Hazzards. It is about us and our experience doing this. We’re the experts in that. Hazzard has two Z’s. Constantly on the air, we have to go, “That’s Hazzard with two Z’s,” if we didn’t buy both spellings, which we did so that we wouldn’t have to do that. People who know us see the two Z’s and go, “The Hazzards. That’s right.” People who don’t and spell it wrong, still get what they want. The mindset is all about the pitfall, the things that could go wrong and all the warning signs. It still works either way but weird spellings can get you into trouble because you’re constantly going to have to tell people how to spell it. One of my favorite podcasters is Mike Michalowicz. MikeTheMechanic is his URL because he got tired of trying to get everybody to spell Michalowicz.

One of the words that are unfortunately used too many times in podcast names that we always caution clients against using is the word conscious because nobody can spell that word right. Usually, they don’t spell it right the 1st, 2nd or 3rd time they try. If it’s not spelled right, your show isn’t going to come up in the search results.

FYB 120 | Podcast Brand

Podcast Brand: When podcast names are clear and simple, it is easier for somebody to come check that out and know that they’re in the right place.

 

Unless you are willing to do something like misspell it in your subtitle and in your description but then again, maybe you’re not willing to try that. That’s another one. Philanthropy is extremely difficult for some reason or philanthropic. We have people who have trouble with that. Psychology is another one, even though you might want that. It’s still hard to spell some of those things. No weird spelling and no hard to spell things if you can avoid them. Long words would be too tiny. You are thinking about that as well.

We’re thinking about the word, how it appears and how we are getting through it. We want to make sure that we’re clear that we’re in the right category. The third thing that I want you to consider is the clarity in the category. If I am in a category about money and investing and there’s nothing about money in my name, it confuses people. It’s not that you have to be about money but there should be some clear tie-in between financial wellbeing, money mindset, wealth whatever that might be that you’re trying. There should be a word that connects you deep to that category as an expert in what you want to be seen as.

Those are all important things. When you think of those three things, the simple description, no weird spellings, no weird phrasings, no long words and being clear on your category, does your name fit it? Do these names fall into that world? Keep brainstorming and go share with some other people who are interested in your type of show, the right target market you’re looking for and even try it with some of your existing clients. If the goal of your podcast is to get more clients, go ask your existing clients, “Would you click on this show? Would you try it if I called it this?” Trying all of those things and then not being afraid to take a risk and changing later if you need to. There’s no harm in pivoting.

I’m a full believer in that. Thanks, Tracy. That was a lot of fun. I enjoy talking about those subjects. I hope you all enjoyed this. Thanks so much. We’ll be back next time.

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