There’s never been a better time to launch your own branded podcast. Incorporating audio content into your marketing strategy is an exciting way to reach new audiences and further build your brand. Learn about how to create your own branded podcast, segment ideas, and podcast tips for beginners here.
The verdict is in: People love podcasts. No matter how many new bingeable TV shows launch, listeners are always hungry for more audio experiences. Over 116 million people tune into their favorite podcasts monthly, according to Convince and Convert.
“A thoughtful branded podcast can help a brand stay in the front of someone's mind,” says Steph Beran Sanderson, Senior Director of Branded Podcasts at Sony Music Entertainment. It allows brands to meet their target audience “where they are with content that enriches their experience,” she adds. Audience members delve into their passions through the act of listening, inviting new opportunities to connect and engage with different topics and hosts. The medium provides a unique intimacy between listeners and creators through its one-on-one conversational vibe.
- Convenient: Audiences consume podcasts at home or on the go, and creators can record from virtually anywhere.
- Cheap: Free or cheap for listeners and affordable for creators, podcasts boast a low bar of entry to get started.
- Profitable: Podcasts generate increased traffic to your website and other social channels. Each episode allows you to make money through sponsorship and paid ad opportunities. While it might feel counterintuitive to advertise other brands on your branded podcast, including ads from non-competitors can show your involvement in the industry. For example, “The Escape Your Limits” podcast by Escape Fitness hosts ads for Forward, a healthcare services platform. Beyond providing revenue, these ads also indicate the fitness company’s interest in the holistic health of their listeners.
Unlike with quickly digested content such as digital advertising, email, and social media, podcasts create long-form stories audiences can sink into. Podcasts range anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour, giving you a significant chunk of time to reinforce what your brand represents, what you value, and the value you can provide to your listeners.
As explained by podcast experts (and depicted in a viral meme), the intimacy of listening to a podcast creates a parasocial relationship between podcaster and listener. Brands can leverage this relationship to increase brand awareness and drive revenue growth.
A branded podcast is just like any other podcast, except that it’s tied to a business or organization. Brands use their unique perspectives to start a conversation and build excitement for topics their target audience wants to know more about.
Brand podcasts are good for:
- Brands with a unique story, voice, or perspective on their industry
- Brands with dedicated resources for ongoing content creation
- Brands looking to expand their reach by using a different medium
Podcast branding shouldn’t include extended advertisements for products or services. It’s less about promoting an agenda and more about serving audience needs. “Entertaining or educating people about something they care about adds value to their life,” Sanderson says, “and brands can be that voice.” An example of this is Sephora’s “#LIPSTORIES.” Instead of actively promoting Sephora makeup products, the podcast focuses on motivational stories about women, self-image, and personal empowerment.
While branded podcasts can mention the company’s products or services, some of the most successful podcasts gear the conversation toward topics that are educational, entertaining, or journalistic.
As industry thought leaders, brands have the inside information audiences crave. Educational podcasts provide informative, instructional content that answers questions and solves problems. For example, Blue Apron’s “Why We Eat What We Eat” delves into the psychology behind food choices. Educational podcast segments include:
- Product tutorials or industry specific how-to guides
- Behind-the-scenes looks into a brand or industry
- Insider tips on how to fully experience a niche
- Advice-driven conversations with prominent industry figures
Brands can use podcasts to produce amusing, engaging content that makes listeners smile. Entertainment-focused podcasts aren’t afraid to get creative and put a singular spin on existing messaging. Successful podcasts that focus on delighting their audiences include Gatorade’s “The Secret to Victory,” which features interviews with the world’s top athletes, and General Electric’s “The Message,” a science-fiction series that uses GE’s real-world technology to decode fictional extraterrestrial messages. Entertaining podcasts include:
- Talk-show style roundtables commenting on industry updates, trends, and gossip
- Guest interviews with industry influencers, celebrities, and other notable names
- Fictional, serialized stories loosely tied to a brand
These podcasts address pressing issues and reveal hidden truths by taking an investigative approach to content. Hosts’ robust research and storytelling abilities make listeners keep coming back for more. For instance, McDonald’s “The Sauce” is a journalistic exploration of a particular fandom’s demand for Szechuan sauce. Journalistic podcasts include:
- Historical deep-dives on industry developments
- Up-to-date reporting on current affairs
- Critical viewpoints calling for action
Determining which of these approaches best fits your business will help you get started on your own branded podcast.
Don’t grab that microphone just yet. Figuring out how to begin a podcast takes planning. You should reflect on the following elements before recording any audio:
The first thing to ask yourself, according to Sanderson, is “What do you hope to achieve?” Spend some time considering what you hope to gain through this medium. Is your goal to generate more leads? More followers? To increase brand awareness or distinguish your brand as a thought leader? Setting a goal will let you use analytics such as total downloads, subscribers, listen-through rate, purchases, and site traffic to measure your ROI. This can help you determine whether or not your podcast is successful down the line.
Think about the podcast theme that best reflects your brand. To create a show with true staying power, you need topics that can be discussed from many angles and will keep audiences wanting more week after week. Research popular podcasts in your industry to get a feel for what’s being done and how you can add to the conversation.
Tone and format
Even as you tackle different topics, each episode should stick to a consistent personality and pattern. This helps create a cohesive narrative that represents your brand voice.
Length and frequency
Committing to regularly released episodes helps listeners stay engaged and look forward to your next installment. Shows can be released daily, weekly, monthly, or any timeframe in between, as long as you stick to a set production schedule.
Now that you’ve decided on your podcast goals, theme, tone, format, length, and frequency, it’s time to decide whether to record your branded podcast in-house or with a professional production team.
For brands without the time or bandwidth to learn the intricacies of audio engineering, hiring an outside production team will guarantee a professional sound from the start. Outsourcing comes at a cost, though: According to Come Alive Creative, a full-service podcast production experience can range anywhere from $1,000–$15,000+ per episode, depending on the complexity of your format.
The steep price may be worth it, since recording in a studio with a podcast producer affords you all the equipment and editing services you need. A production team can also help with scheduling guests, pitching episode ideas, and conducting research.
Producing a podcast on your own is significantly cheaper but requires more of your time. Not only will you need to acquire all the necessary equipment, but you’ll also need to learn basic sound design to create an audio experience your listeners will enjoy. The last thing you want is for audiences to tune out because your podcast doesn’t sound great.
Investing in your own podcast equipment setup can cost upwards of $2,000, unless you already have audio equipment you can use. At a minimum, you’ll need a microphone, mic stand, headphones, and audio editing software to get started.
Whether you record with a team or in-house, you’ll also need to sign up with a podcast hosting service such as Buzzsprout, Podbean, or SoundCloud. These services distribute your content to various podcast directories and apps like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Audible, and Stitcher. Podcast hosting plans vary in storage space and features. Be on the lookout for services that offer unlimited bandwidth and perks such as built-in websites, embeddable episodes, monetization options, and measurable stats. Monthly rates vary from free to $99 per month.
A successful podcast requires the right creative assets. Here are the assets you should keep in mind for your podcast:
Finding the right host for your podcast is crucial. Whether you choose a solo host, a pair of co-hosts, or a group of experts, you need voices that are engaging, easy to listen to, and aligned with your brand voice. Vocal talents can come from your internal team or an outside hire, but whomever you pick should:
- Be a subject matter expert in your given topic or industry
- Feel comfortable talking for extended periods of time
- Have excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- Have experience interviewing subjects
- Uphold your brand in a positive light
- Have natural camaraderie with co-hosts and podcast guests
Script writing and episode planning
Writing a script or an episode outline before you hit record helps ensure you’ll keep the conversation flowing without having to edit out too much dead air. Bulleted show notes can provide reference if you lose your train of thought or if an interview veers off in a different direction. You’ll also want an episode content calendar to stay ahead of any research or preparation needed for upcoming shows.
In addition to your audio content, you’ll need quality branding to attract new listeners. Anything you create for your podcast should correlate with the look and feel of existing brand assets so audiences can recognize the connection. Podcast branding includes:
- Name: The name of your branded podcast should quickly hint at its subject matter and tone. Names can be playful, serious, or straight to the point. When brainstorming podcast names, think about your target audience and what they already like about your brand.
- Description: While your podcast name is a great introduction, your podcast description gives listeners an even better idea of what they can expect to hear once they hit play. Make sure it speaks to all the key elements you want them to know from the get-go.
- Cover art: Podcast cover art is like the album cover of our time. It helps catch a potential listener’s attention as they scroll through Apple Podcasts or Spotify for new shows. Your cover can be a photo, drawing, or digital illustration; just make sure to include your brand’s logo.
- Music: Many successful podcasts have a jingle or musical interlude to kick off each episode. These musical bites should showcase your podcast’s unique voice—and hopefully be catchy enough that listeners keep humming it throughout the day. You may also want a library of go-to sound effects and audio beats to break up segments.
- Website: Podcasts receive a dedicated webpage through their hosting provider that lists an overall show description and episode links. You can also create your own podcast page on your brand’s site to highlight news, updates, giveaways, and more.
Read through other podcast reviews to see what kind of creative assets and branding generate audience interest. These podcast review examples can help you determine what will work best for your branded podcast.
- "Shopify Masters": E-commerce platform Shopify hosts a weekly podcast educating entrepreneurs on how to grow their online businesses. In addition to tips on using the platform itself, the show delves into relevant, timely discussions on marketing, licensing, and product development, giving listeners tricks for nearly every aspect of their business journey.
- Listener review (5 stars on the Apple App Store): “Unfiltered advice from other e-commerce business owners. Really helpful to hear how problems were solved, what to avoid, and how to optimize different aspects of business. Not theoretical, but actually tested work. Great hosts and awesome guests.”
- "Inside Trader Joe’s": The grocery store with a cult following goes one step further and takes listeners behind the scenes of its aisles. From product updates to employee interviews, this show caters to shoppers who are hungry for more.
- Listener review (5 stars on the Apple App Store): “I’ve loved TJs for a while. This podcast makes me a more informed customer and a cheerleader for the store. Thanks team (those behind and not near the mic) for your excellent work on this podcast.”
- "The Rework Podcast": Created by 37signals (the team behind Basecamp), this podcast tackles workplace efficiency—fitting for a project management system. Short, bite-sized episodes give listeners actionable takeaways in business and beyond.
- Listener review (5 stars on the Apple App Store): “Very fun, down to earth, informative discussions. It feels like we are sitting at a wine bar talking about these topics.”
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Here are a few more pro tips to consider when beginning your own podcast.
Plan your launch
While your goal may be to gain new listeners, your existing fans are likely to tune in, so give them fair warning with a podcast launch strategy. Use existing channels to promote your new show and generate excitement.
Make a show trailer
Getting existing fans to subscribe is only half the battle. To pull in new listeners, record a two-minute show trailer that describes what your show is about and why someone should tune in. Be specific and showcase your personality. Share it on your existing social media platforms, in your email campaigns, and on your brand site.
Record episodes in batches
Batch recording makes it easier to produce regularly scheduled episodes. Rather than gathering up your whole team every few days, you can record several episodes in a marathon session and then release them throughout the month.
Create podcast segments
Breaking each episode into different segments creates a nice flow and gives listeners something to look forward to each week. Within your planned topics and format, try integrating some of these podcast segment ideas:
- Listener questions/mail bag
- Brand news, updates, and behind the scenes
- Product tips and tricks
- Guest interviews
- Games, trivia, or audience challenges
- Inspirational quotes or expert advice
- Listener reviews or social media shout-outs
- Sneak peeks of future episodes
Guest star on other shows
You’re likely not the only show tailored to your niche, and that’s OK. Having your podcast hosts make guest appearances on other relevant shows increases awareness around your perspective. If listeners enjoy what they hear in the guest episode, they’ll be more inclined to check out your show, too.
Create marketing content for each episode
Branded podcasts are gold for marketing content calendars. Each episode creates space for additional blogs, social media posts, newsletters, interviews, and other opportunities to get people talking about your brand. Tease out what non-subscribers are missing with ongoing mentions on your website and other platforms.
Remember to enjoy yourself! Starting a podcast is a lot of work, but it’s a great way to market your brand, flex your creative muscle, and connect with your audience.