What is a Branded Podcast?
First things first, what even is a branded podcast? A branded podcast can be defined as a podcast launched by a company or brand in an effort to market its products and/or services, strengthen its brand story, connect with its community, and a variety of other purposes.
State of Branded Podcasts
Today, more and more big-name (and small-name!) brands are entering the podcasting landscape to spread the word about their company, build their storytelling platform and connect with listeners. It’s no longer enough to launch a Facebook profile and call it a day to promote your business—if you’re hoping to stay competitive in the online space, a podcast is becoming a must-have.
Although the podcasting world has become more established in recent years, there’s still somewhat scant information online when it comes to branded podcasts specifically.
Luckily, we’ve created this comprehensive guide to branded podcasts to help you get the lay of the land and ensure your show is in tip-top shape. Whether you’re preparing to launch your branded podcast or you’ve already hit the ground running, there’s always more to learn, so consider this your crash course in branded podcasts.
Nail Your Strategy
Before you set out on your content creation journey alongside any colleagues, freelancers or agency partners you may be working with, be sure to align on a high-level strategy internally. This could mean putting together a deck including elements like the podcast theme and tone, or simply sitting down for a brainstorming session with your team.
Here are some questions to ask your team during the strategy phase:
- What is our podcast “elevator pitch?” I.e., what is the show about in two to three sentences?
- What will be the name of the podcast?
- What topics will we cover, and what topics will we stay away from as a rule?
- What formats would we like to experiment with?
- What kind of guests will we have on the show (if this is the type of format you’ll be working with)?
- What will the overall tone of the podcast be? I.e., light and comical, or serious and to-the-point?
- What is the goal behind the podcast? What are we trying to achieve?
Confirm Your Budget
While podcasting is a relatively affordable medium, costs can add up quickly if you’re outsourcing most of the work and investing in top-notch equipment. Before you take any first steps in creating a corporate podcast, be sure to decide on a firm budget with your leadership team and keep a log of costs from the beginning to avoid any misunderstandings.
The bigger the budget, the more freedom and flexibility you’ll have to try new things with the podcast, but note that if you’re making the case for a greater investment, have a breakdown of how exactly you’ll be measuring success metrics and KPIs.
What’s in a Name?
Early on, podcasters often underestimate the importance of selecting the right name for their podcast and each episode. In reality, titles are essential when it comes to captivating an audience because they act as a first impression for potential audience members, and can make or break their decision of whether or not they want to listen to your show.
If you’ve already named your branded podcast and in hindsight, you’re realizing it wasn’t the best decision, have no fear! It’s quite common for people to rename their podcasts, but if you’re planning on doing this, it’s best to wait until you’re moving onto the next season so your listeners don’t get confused. Also, be sure to rename everything associated with the podcast, including your website, social media presence, etc. to ensure everything stays consistent.
Here are some tips when it comes to naming a branded podcast and/or episode titles:
Make it catchy
As the title of your podcast is one of the first things your listeners will notice, it should be catchy, memorable and roll off the tongue. A few ways to do this are to use alliteration, rhymes, common phrases with slight variations, or short, snappy words.
When naming your branded podcast or show titles, try to be as specific as possible so people know exactly what you’re talking about. This way, potential listeners will have a better sense of whether or not they want to tune in.
Decide how your show title will relate to your brand
It’s not off-limits to include your brand’s name in your podcast title, but the important thing is to be intentional about your decision and know the rationale behind it. Most branded podcasts don’t include the name of the brand in the show title so it doesn’t come off like just another marketing ploy, but on the other hand, if your brand has significant clout behind it, then including the brand name in the podcast title could be a great draw for new listeners.
Choosing a Host
If the format you choose for your branded podcast requires a host, it’s important to choose someone who will help you capture the right tone, voice and audience connection. You have the option to choose someone from within your organization who is knowledgeable about the subject matter such as the CEO or founder, or you could also outsource the role to a professional actor or TV host who can help draw in listeners.
Whomever you end up choosing, it’s important to consider some key elements including:
- Diversity. Is the host representative of marginalized groups or an underrepresented gender, sexuality or race? If not, you may want to rethink your decision.
- Charisma. Is the host charismatic, engaging and well-spoken?
- Expertise. Does the host have special knowledge or insights to bring to the table?
Once you’ve selected the right host for the podcast, book a few different briefing and training sessions to ensure they have a good grasp of the show’s theme and purpose. It also can’t hurt to bring in a professional media trainer or acting coach to help them nail their tone and style, if you have the budget, that is.
Whether you’re just getting started with your branded podcast or you already have a season or two under your belt, it’s common for people to mix up their podcast lingo. This can lead to miscommunications when working with your team members or freelancers, so it’s best to brush up on the proper podcast terminology to avoid any mixups.
Here’s some podcast terminology to add to your vocabulary:
Podcast vs. Podcast Episode. It may sound simple, but the distinction between these two terms is often glossed over. When referring to a “podcast,” this generally means the entire show and all episodes within the overarching umbrella. However, a “podcast episode” refers to a particular edition of the show, like an episode of a TV show.
- Podcast Description vs. Episode Description. Similar to the above example, a “podcast description” refers to the description of the entire show, so the broad themes, topics and subject matter discussed in each episode. The “episode description,” however, outlines the themes and ideas discussed in one particular episode of the show.
- Podcast Show Notes. Not to be confused with the episode description, show notes are a much more extensive and comprehensive description of an episode. Unlike an episode description, which is typically just a simple paragraph or two outlining the content of the episode, show notes may be broken out into different categories including links, references, information about the guest, and any calls-to-action for your listeners like information on where they can find your podcast on social media. While show notes aren’t a strict requirement for every podcast, it’s a great idea to include them with each episode (especially for branded podcasts) because they help give your show a more professional feel, provide your audience with more content to consume, and increase your show’s awareness through SEO.
Podcast Listening Platforms
If you’re planning on launching a branded podcast, it’s important to know your podcast listening platforms inside and out. Listeners can tune into branded podcasts using almost any device and a variety of platforms.
Mobile devices including iPhones and Androids are generally the easiest way to listen, but people can also listen on the computer and even in the car, provided there’s a bluetooth connection handy. As of 2021, Spotify is the most used app when it comes to online audio with Pandora as the second.
If you’re hoping to get as much exposure as possible for your branded podcast, you’ll want to ensure the show is discoverable on as many podcast listening apps as possible. Here are a few of our favorite podcast listening apps and why we love them:
- Pocket Casts. This podcasting app allows listeners to build a queue of episodes to listen to next, and filters so you can sort your favourite shows by time of day or situation. With curated recommendations and customizable options, Pocket Casts will turn you into a podcast connoisseur in no time.
- Castbox. This app features over 95 million volumes of audio content you can listen to using Android, Apple iPhone, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Carplay and Android Auto. With Castbox, you can also go live using Livecast, which allows podcasters to connect with their listeners in real time and grow their following.
- Spotify. You can also listen to podcasts using Spotify, which comes in handy if you like to keep all your music and pods in one place. Spotify is a great option for personalized recommendations and easy access to your favourite shows.
- Google Podcasts. With Google Podcasts, you’ll have access to all your favourite shows on an easy-to-use and intuitive interface. The app has some handy options like skipping ahead 30 seconds in an episode, a sleep timer, as well as a “history” section which shows you which episodes you’ve already listened to.
- Apple Podcasts. As the OG listening platform, Apple Podcasts is perfect for a no-frills podcast experience. The app comes pre-downloaded with your iPhone, so if you’re looking to cut down on the number of apps and platforms you’re using, Apple Podcasts is a great option.
A podcast subscriber is exactly what it sounds like—someone who has hit the “subscribe” button on a show, similar to how you might subscribe to a TV channel or magazine. Once you subscribe to a show, you’ll receive the latest episodes as soon as they’re released right on the app.
While Apple Podcasts uses the term “subscribers,” some listening platforms take a slightly different approach. For example, Spotify classifies podcast listeners into two categories: unique listeners and “followers,” who are users that have hit the “follow” button on a podcast to receive regular updates, similar to a subscriber.
As you might intuit, more subscribers or followers = more exposure for your podcast and therefore, a larger audience base to listen to your key messages, purchase your products or simply become part of your community. Unlike social media apps where you can easily see how many followers other users have, you won’t be able to see this number on other podcasts. However, you can use analytics tools to check out your own stats like:
- Transistor. With Transistor, you can check in on how many subscribers you have, listener trends and average downloads per episode.
- Apple Podcasts Connect. Using this tool, you can gain valuable insights into your podcast, monitor analytics and manage your shows.
- Charitable. This handy tool helps you grow your network while providing valuable insights to advertisers.
- Rephonic. With Rephonic, you can see how many listeners a podcast is getting per episode to take the guesswork out of podcast pitching.
Many podcasters will accompany each new episode with video footage of the conversation, which they can use to upload to video platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. This can be an especially effective tactic for branded podcasts because it gives you another chance to reinforce your branding and ensure you have a strong presence on every relevant platform.
There are a few different formats you can use to add video footage to your podcast plan including:
- A full-length video of the entire podcast episode, talk-show style. Example: Rich Roll’s YouTube channel.
- A teaser video or a short snippet of impactful moments during the episode. These could range anywhere from 20 seconds to five minutes, to be posted on Instagram, YouTube or LinkedIn.
- Audiograms, which convert snippets of your podcast episode into engaging, social-friendly soundbytes to entice listeners.
Again, video is not a requirement for podcasting, but if you have the proper equipment or even a team to help out with the recording, it can be a great way to engage listeners visually and continue promoting your brand. If you’re interested in adding video to your podcasting toolbox but you’re not working with a production team, here are some tools and platforms to get you started:
- A camcorder. You can use your phone or computer to film a virtual chat or a solocast, but if you’d like to film an in-person conversation with a guest, talk-show style, you may want to make use of a video camera and a tripod. The Panasonic HC-V770 Full HD Camcorder is a great place to start for recording podcasts.
- Three-in-one camera, mic and speaker. The Meeting Owl Pro is a handy tool for any podcasters looking to film and record an episode at the same time. It also integrates seamlessly into conferencing platforms to make your and your guests’ lives easier.
- Zencastr. This easy-to-use tool is another convenient way to record your podcasts on video. Zencastr can record 1080p HD video with up to four guests.
We have been asked time and time again, how long should a podcast episode be? And to give you a slightly dissatisfying answer… It depends! Some podcasts fit well in the 60-90 minutes time frame while others are performing exceptionally well at the 10 minute mark.
For branded podcasts, it’s best to conduct a competitive analysis by checking out other podcasts operating in your space and take note of their episode themes, guests, length, etc. Once you’ve compiled all the information, consider where you’d like to fit into the competitive matrix—maybe you’d like to be somewhere in the middle, or maybe you’d like to stand out by making your episodes much shorter or longer than the others. Again, it comes down to being intentional about your decision and backing it up with rationale.
The great thing about podcasting is that it’s a fairly flexible medium, and there are no hard-and-fast rules in terms of format. You have the space and the freedom to experiment with multiple different formats, styles and lengths, so try recording episodes in the range of 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes and then upwards of an hour. Analyze your backend information to see which episodes resonate the most with your listeners, then continue refining from there.
Podcasting Production Stages
For branded podcasts, you likely have a bit more budget than the average solo-caster, so the process of recording a podcast may be made easier through the help of a production company, agency or freelancers. When hiring outside help to produce a branded podcast, the most important thing is to ensure you’re working with people who are the right fit for your brand and understand your vision.
Before you sign on to work with anyone, be sure to ask them for samples of their work and references if needed. Establishing trust with the team or freelancer is essential, and it will make the creative process much smoother in the long run.
Once you’ve found the right team, it’s time to get producing! Recording a podcast involves three main stages:
This stage involves everything from making sure you (or your production team) have the proper equipment to writing your episode script. It also involves nailing down your podcast’s goals, themes and key messaging, sourcing new guests, and research. The planning stage is a crucial element of the podcasting process, so use it to your full advantage to set yourself up for success.
Here’s a general pre-production checklist you can use to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before you hit the ground running:
Choose a goal for your podcast
Whether it’s converting listeners to customers or raising public awareness about your brand, getting clear on the overarching objective behind your podcast is an important first step on your journey. Set aside some time to choose a few tangible goals or metrics you’d like to reach by a certain date so you’ll be able to measure your success once you get started.
Refine your topic
Before you start planning your episodes, you’ll want to make sure you have a strong sense of the subject matter you’d like to cover. Try to choose a few anchor topics that are specific but not too niche to help guide your episode planning and hone in on the focus of your podcast.
Consider whether the topics discussed on the podcast will be closely linked to your brand’s products and/or services, or whether they’ll veer slightly into new territory. Depending on the products/services your company provides, it may be challenging to link it to podcast content, in which case, don’t be afraid to create content that’s not directly related to your company.
For example, if you are an insurance provider, you likely wouldn’t want to create podcast content directly related to the work you do. However, you could experiment with content related to true crime or real-life stories of accidents or natural disasters.
Refine your brand
The pre-production phase is a great time to create brand collateral for your podcast which could include cover art, a logo or icon, professional photo shoots and of course, a name for the show. Again, it’s up to you to decide how closely linked the podcast’s branding will be to your main brand, but it’s generally a good idea to ensure there’s some consistency between the two.
Check your equipment
While you don’t necessarily have to purchase a full-fledged recording studio to start a podcast, you’ll want to take stock of the equipment you have on hand to make sure you have the basics. A microphone, laptop and editing software are three essentials that will help you get you started. Again, if you’re working with a production agency, this will be taken care of for you.
Research, write, repeat
Episode planning is really the fun part of podcast pre-production because it gives you the chance to dive deep into a topic and draft a unique story flow based on your findings. Whether you’re planning a solocast or a guest interview, doing as much research as you can beforehand is a great way to make sure you’re knowledgeable about the subject matter. If you’re working with a production agency that’s helping you/your team with writing the podcast episodes, be sure to give them as detailed a brief as possible so they’re clear on the message you’re trying to convey with the show and you can avoid multiple back-and-forth edits.
The actual act of recording your podcast episodes will probably take you the least amount of time of all the stages. While every stage of podcasting can be enjoyable, recording is arguably the most fun part of the process because you finally get to watch the magic happen and see all your hard work and planning come to life.
Here are some tips for the recording stage of the production journey:
- Make sure your host is using a microphone and headphones to ensure crystal clear sound quality.
- If you’re going to be speaking with a guest, make sure your/your host’s internet connection is lightning fast to avoid any annoying breaks or pauses in the conversation.
- Coach your host to avoid too many “uh’s,” “um’s” and “ah’s” to keep your listeners’ attention and sound professional.
- When it comes to your conversation with the guest, the topic of interruption can be a little controversial. Our opinion? If your guest is beginning to go on a tangent and you can feel the conversation veering way off into a direction that you don’t want to go, it’s okay to coach your host to politely find a break in their speech to steer the discussion back to where you want it to go. But with that being said, they shouldn’t be rude. No listener wants to hear the host fully interrupt a guest mid-sentence and you also don’t want to offend the guest.
- Ask your host to have a glass of water close by to clear away any frogs that seem intent on hanging out in your throat during the recording session.
If recording is the party, post-production is the after party. This is where you get to put your editing skills and creativity to good use and really polish the episode to make it shine.
Again, if you’re working with an agency on this part of the process, then you likely have it covered. However, if not, here are some tips for making the most of the post-production phase:
- Make use of shortcut keys for actions like cutting, rippling, highlighting and deleting to speed up the editing process.
- Check out different plugins and presets you can use to apply effects or clean up your audio quickly.
- Take advantage of all the handy sound editing platforms out there like Descript.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with new editing tricks, sound effects and music.
- The post-production stage is also a great opportunity to edit out any mistakes or disruptions during the episode and cut down on annoying background noise.
How to Upload a Podcast
Once you’re happy with the finished product, it’s finally time for you (or your agency partner) to share it with the world. You’ve already figured out how to plan, record and edit an episode, so this part of the process will be a breeze.
Here’s what you need to do to upload your podcast episode:
- Choose a hosting platform. Some examples of podcast hosting platforms include Buzzsprout and PodBean.
- Upload your audio files (and show notes / description) to the platform.
- Submit your RSS feed URL and other requirements like artwork, title, category, description, language, etc. to Apple Podcasts and other apps like Spotify and Google Play Music.
- Once you’ve submitted, wait for your submission to be approved. You’ll only need to do this process once because Apple Podcasts will automatically update with new episodes from your hosting platform once you’ve provided the RSS information.
Now that your episode is available to the world, you’ll want to spread the word and create some buzz around the show—that’s right, it’s time to drill down on podcast marketing. This is also a crucial stage of the process because without using tactics like social media, email marketing, blogs and advertising to get the word out, no one will know your podcast exists anyway, so all your hard work will be for naught.
Again, don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with new platforms, ideas and tactics, and be sure to remain consistent with your messaging so listeners know what to expect. Depending on the structure of your company, you may have a full marketing team responsible for this part of the process, or it may be up to you and one to two other team members.
Whatever the case may be, you’ll want to make sure you have both organic marketing and paid marketing tactics covered off. Organic marketing may include tactics like social media, newsletters, email marketing campaigns, blogs, websites, or even internal tactics like giveaways or launch parties exclusive to employees at your company.
Here are a few organic marketing ideas to get you and your team started:
- Social Media
- Quote Graphics
- Community Growth
- Slack Groups
- Facebook Groups
- Podcast Guest Networks
- Internal Communications
- Podcast SEO
- Podcast Cross Promotion
- Episode Swaps
- Podcast Contests
When it comes to paid marketing platforms, there are several paid promotional platforms podcasters can use to boost their marketing plans including:
- Podcast Addict. Offered on Google Play, this app allows you to purchase ad slots in a specific podcast category, or on the homepage for $1,000 to $2,000 USD.
- Megaphone. As a podcast marketplace, Megaphone allows podcasters to purchase ad space within podcast episodes and target specific audience demographics for a more tailored campaign experience.
- Acast. Also a marketplace similar to Megaphone, Acast provides users access to over 300 million listeners per month and 25,000 shows.
Branded podcasts are all the rage right now, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is staying true to your brand’s overall mission, goals and key messaging. Authenticity is king when it comes to crafting an online brand and voice, so consider how you can use your branded podcast to promote your company without sacrificing its values.
When in doubt, it’s always best to use your mission statement and overarching goals as your guiding light on this podcasting journey. While it can be tempting to hop on the bandwagon of shiny new tricks and trends in the podcast world, it’s always best to play to your company’s strengths and focus on what you do best.
Happy (branded) podcasting!