The Look of Podcasting: Title, Design & Logo
The look of podcasting. This is kind of the fun part, ironically. Podcasting a very aural medium of course. But there's so much about the visual identity in the semantics of a show that are very important to nail from the start. And of course this all happens at the beginning. When you're thinking about the name of your show, the logo, the design of a podcast. What is it about a logo that's gonna communicate something about what you're doing to your audiences. Whether it's a color scheme. Whether it's a sense of design. Is it readable? Does it convey what the podcast is called? Et cetera, all these things. So I'm going to show you a few examples of shows in Radiotopia that I feel like between their title and what they're about and their logos communicate these things very effectively. Got 99% Invisible, Criminal, Ear Hustle. And Song Exploder. So four very different logos and each of them does that little job of communicating. Giving listeners a message about what the show is. And they...
also have to be recognizable, right? Think of when you're scrolling through on your phone, you're looking for something. I mean when you think of your favorite podcast, what does it look like? Which is a funny question but does anyone in the room have an immediate visual reaction to a show that they think about?
Actually 99% Invisible is one of my favorite ones. And it's, exactly is what the name is. It's obscure, it's unknown, and it's completely interesting and engaging.
Right, excellent. I think you know, titles can convey so much. Phrase titles, I recommend people to stay away from. I like very tangible, graspable ideas. Short, a couple words of a title. So people can remember them. I think Song Exploder is the one on the bottom right if you don't know. And that's a show where the host Hrishikesh picks apart a song with a musician. They kind of explode how a song is made. And they talk through all the elements and then play it. So we've got 99% Invisible, about design in the world and the things we don't see in the design in the world. Criminal, which is, you know a crime show. But it's actually a show about people and people stuck between perpetrating being victims and all the stories that come out of those situations. Ear Hustle, which won that contest Podquest, I'll talk a little bit about it more later. Is stories about daily life in San Quentin, produced and shared from the inmates living in San Quentin. And Song Exploder is a music podcast that interviews with musicians about single songs. So they take one song and go deep on that. Of course another thing to know about design is that people will see it at a very small scale. Oh, and I should point out the Radiotopia logo too. So full disclosure, Radiotopia was actually a term that I came up with during my Third Coast years. That when Roman Mars, who founded Radiotopia with PRX when they decided to make a network, this was before I was with them. They wanted to call it something and he contacted me and said what do you think about Radiotopia? And it felt like such a hopeful, wonderful thing. I said absolutely, I hope you will. But, I will also take the blame for creating a name that is actually too long to work very well in a square setting. Which is something that we realized at some point. It was too late to change it but as I'm saying, scaling is really important, right? These logos have to come down to very small sizes. And the way we got around it with Radiotopia was to develop a symbol that became known for Radiotopia. Was worked in a square setting and then we added them to the podcast tiles to further brand the network. This is the fun part. But as with everything, I recommend coming up with a few different versions, running them by friends, getting some feedback. And think about when you're naming your show, the possibility of it already being out there is quite high. So you want to come up with three or four different names for shows that might work for you. What did you say the name of your show was?
Wait, pass the mike.
It started off as Stoic Meditations but there was another one exactly the same name on the same platform by a stoic professor in Italy called Stoic Meditation so I changed it to Stoic Coffee Break.
Ah, okay, that's interesting, yeah. Cool, so the same thing, you found something that was there but you developed a name that you felt like better portrayed what you wanted to do with your show.
Actually I was just looking up domain names under stoic whatever on Namecheap. And I was scrolling through and it said stoic.coffee and I was like that's really cool. I like that, so I bought the name and then when I was talking about it I'm like well stoic coffee break because it was a short podcast. Seemed to work a little bit better and it just kind of stuck and it seems to doing pretty well.
I mean the name becomes like the handle that people hold your podcast by, right? The design is the shape and the skin and the decoration but like the handle, the name is really what sticks in their minds. It's what people talk about. It's really A number one, you have to love, you have to want to tattoo the name of your podcast on your body. I believe before you should pick it. So that's a little bit about the design.
Julie, we do have a question about the design if that's all right. We can slow it down a bit and get some questions in while we're doing this. Are there, you've given us these examples but are there certain elements of design that, is there a hierarchy of the most important thing. Like the name, or a symbol that shows what the subject matter might be. Or if it is something like Radiotopia, where you have a big sort of following already. Getting that logo in there. Is it the name of the host? Is there a hierarchy?
It depends, I think it depends on the show that you're making to be honest. I would say that the title is key 'cause people have to know how to look, know that they've found the show that they're looking for. And they have to have that handle to hang on to your show with. So the name has to be key. Although with the Song Exploder, it's king of built in. It's not actually on the tile. But it still works to some degree. Once you've heard the show and you see this is what the visual identity does. People just start connecting it to your show. It depends a little bit on your artistic vision because you should never discount what you actually want to do with your show. And maybe you want to break some rules because that feels better and it feels truer to what you are imagining. I think readability is very important and that scaling down and that ability to scale and still be recognizable is all important. We put Ear Hustle right there so you people knew what they were looking at. But we thought long and hard about that logo because we didn't want it to be like a typical jail iconography. And we wanted to have some space for thinking and having the possibility of the kinds of stories people would hear be sort of endless and not really pre-prescribed. So we liked the idea of a figure kind of staring off into the space and thinking about the stories they were going to tell. And we thought about this is the color scheme that is, that the inmates at San Quentin actually wear. So there's some actual information in the logo as well. But I would say I think identify-ability I guess is my biggest recommendation. Find something that you feel truly represents the show that you're making. And I just think the busy podcast logos are hard to read and kind of all look the same. And you know, something that really stands out from the others whether it's through the color scheme or basic clear, strong design, I think that's what's most important.