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How to Design Breathtaking Podcast Artwork That Stands Out

Visual Marketing
Visual Marketing

This is an article for the ones who understand the power of podcast, who know how big podcast is today and for those who want to create an awesome show that will drive for them the amount of results they want.

We all know that podcast is all about audio.

Some podcasts are with interviews, some with one or more hosts and other are shows in which someone is talking to the microphone, record and upload it on his hosting.

Podcasting continues to rise, with monthly listeners growing from to 24% in 2017.

Podcast listening statistics

But as you may know, when you create a podcast show you must also create a visual identity to for it. Your online show must have a brand, a podcast artwork.

The kind of artwork you will not only use on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud or other websites. It’s the kind of artwork you must use every time you promote your podcast.

This artwork will be your podcast’s visual brand!

Last year I launched a local podcast in which I talk with different people about topics from marketing and life. It’s the kind of project I wanted to launch in order to understand why audio and voice will be an important strategy in marketing.

But today I won’t talk about how to create a successful podcast for your business. I already wrote an article in which I shared how to use Instagram to promote your podcast. I’m doing this by myself and it’s working.

Today I want to point what somebody needs to do when designing their podcast artwork.

I saw that there are countless articles on how to design these visuals that will make your podcast stand out from the crowd, but not so many of them are really pointing out the truth.

So here you go, the kind of article you must read when you are about to design your own podcast artwork.

This article is divided in 2 parts:

  1. What you have to know before you start designing your podcast artwork
  2. How to design a cool podcast artwork

What is your podcast about

what is your podcast about

Before we even open a design program we must fill up a few white spaces in our head. That means that we must know:

  • what we are doing
  • why we are doing
  • for whom we are doing.

For example, when I wanted to start my own podcast I didn’t know what the podcast will be about, what I will talk about and how I will manage it. But then I found an opportunity to talk with someone very important in my country, so I took my phone, met with him and hit the record button. After half an hour of talking we finished the interview… and then it blew my mind.

This podcast will be about marketing and life.

Because everything we see around us is marketing and marketing without life is just a big zero. So now I have my tagline: About marketing and life.

That gave me a big start because after I found the name of the podcast and the tagline it was easy for me to create the artwork.

Now back to you,

what is your podcast about?

Maybe you want to talk about fishing or you want to start a podcast in which to interview every author who wrote a personal development book.

The answer for this question will be the root of your podcast. People will ask you what the podcast is about and you have to answer very simple.

But before I opened the design program I went to iTunes and made some research to look at my competition.

Research competition

Now the design part is really starting here. Not from the practical point of view, but from the “what others are doing” point of view. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel and you don’t have to copy/paste other people’s’ artwork.

Even if you really love their podcast artwork, you have to understand that you just can’t copy someone else’s work.

How do you do a simple research for your podcast artwork?

First of all, you go on iTunes and select the category where you want to include your podcast.

For example, let’s select the “Business” category and see “What’s Hot” now.

podcast artwork research

These are the kind of podcasts that are hot right now. The ones that are on top and people are listening to them.

Now take a moment and look at them.

What do you see over there? Which one is the one that you prefer to help you inspire for your next podcast artwork?

When I designed my podcast artwork I done the same. But I have a clear idea about what I wanted from my podcast artwork: to be very simple and easy to memorize.

But your research is not done. Because your podcast artwork will not only be on iTunes or other websites on which you plan to publish it. It will also be on your website’s homepage.

For example, let’s look at how Neil Patel and Eric Siu are using their podcast artwork on their website.

Marketing school podcast
Very simple and clean. You can see Neil’s and Eric’s faces, on white background with orange and grey text above them.

Now let’s go on the podcast’s website https://marketingschool.io/

What branding style do we see?

marketingschool.io podcast artwork
Same colors. Same text. Same photos.

Great consistency in their website. Because they stay close to their brand and this is a great way to make your podcast artwork remembered.

Also, remember this: I recommend you to create a website for your podcast and publish your episodes on your website too. Or if you have one already, just create a new category and publish it over there.

It’s not only that it will be easier to find but will also help your website gain more traffic and some internet users are more likely to listen to the podcast on your website. That means that the avg time spent on your website will grow.

One of the biggest mistakes you can do when ‘stalking’ your competition is to not know who your competition is.

Exactly.

For example, if you want to start a podcast on marketing and you think that Neil Patel, Gary Vaynerchuk or other big names are your competition, then you are already losing. I’m not saying that you don’t have to put big goals for your project, but before you write down these big goals you really have to be honest with yourself and see who you are, what you do and how you can do it. So, if you have 20 people in your team that can create a podcast for you to publish daily as Gary Vee’s does with his podcast, then go for it. But if you don’t, then just be real with yourself and think about who is your nearest competition and what you can do to beat them.

Start small. Step by step. Grow organic. Be consistent.

There is one thing that Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss and Neil Patel have in common.

They all started from zero. So it’s an equal chance for all of us.

Communicate the topic of your podcast

Many podcasters think that if they use some simple microphone or headset icons on their podcast artwork it will make the user click on it, subscribe and become the biggest fan.

Well, let me tell you this, you won’t see any microphones or headset icons on the top podcasts shows.

podcast artwork examples
And you know why?

Because all of these shows know what they are talking about, know what their listeners want to know and they also understand the power of branding.

Using a microphone or a headset on your podcast’s artwork is not branding.

Is just laziness and lack of inspiration.

That’s why I’m recommending you to sit down and write simple and clear what your podcast will be about.

Let’s try this example. Your podcast will be about the daily coffee:

  • Why do people drink coffee
  • Why it’s ok to drink coffee in the morning
  • How to prepare an espresso
  • How to measure coffee beans, water and milk
  • The difference between arabica and robusta coffee beans
  • How much caffeine does a person need every day
  • Is cappuccino real coffee
  • Do you need a coffee cup to drink an awesome coffee?
  • What is a barista
  • How to do  coffee cupping at home

Now let’s see what are the common words we see in this points:

  • Drink
  • Coffee cup/beans/cupping

And now you have the 2 big words you can use in your branding: “drink” and “coffee” and also you can use “cup” “beans” “real”

From this, you can also create a simple podcast name:

  1. The coffee warrior
  2. Ask coffee show
  3. Let’s drink coffee
  4. Coffee beans in the brain
  5. Fresh coffee Podcast
  6. The coffee maniacs

Understanding the topic of your podcast will help you with designing your podcast artwork.

This is also a simple exercise for you when you are about to start recording your podcast episodes.

Now let’s get to the practical part and see what we have to know in order to design a podcast artwork.

Design requirements for iTunes

It’s still not the time to open the design program. Why? Because you have to know some requirements before.

And these requirements come from iTunes, the biggest online directory on which you want to publish your podcast.

Podcast image size:

  • minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels (72 dpi)
  • maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels (72 dpi)

Podcast artwork extensions:

  • .JPG
  • .JPEG
  • .PNG

RGB colorspace.

Other things to know about your podcast artwork:

  • Optimize images for mobile devices – that means that you must compress your image files. I recommend you to use tinypng.com

compress images tinypng

What you can’t use on your podcast artwork:

  • Passwords
  • Irrelevant content or spam
  • Explicit language without setting the <Explicit> tag
  • Content that could be racist, misogynist, or homophobic.
  • References to illegal drugs, profanity, or violence in the title, description, artwork, or episodes.
  • Content with graphic sex, violence, gore, illegal drugs, or hate themes.
  • Third-party brands or trademarks without legal authorization
  • The words “Apple Music”, “iTunes Store”, “iTunes”, “Apple Podcasts”, or “Apple Inc.”
  • iTunes Store logo
  • Apple Podcasts logo
  • Apple logo, or the term Exclusive without prior authorization from Apple.
  • Any visual representation of iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or any other Apple hardware.
  • Pixelation, artifacts, high-contrast background art, blurry or hard crops (unless stylistic), or other style issues.

You don’t have to create only one design and use that.

Apple also recommends that you use specific images for individual episodes.

Scalability design

When you are about to design your podcast’s artwork you must do some different moves. It doesn’t only have to look great on your website, but it also has to look great on your phone.

Let me show you how my artwork looks like on different platforms:

  • iTunes

iTunes podcastu' lui katai

  • Stitcher

stitcher podcastu' lui katai

  • Spotify

Spotify podcastu' lui katai

  • Soundcloud

Soundcloud podcastu' lui katai

  • TuneIn

tunein podcastu' lui katai

That means that my artwork must be easily remembered on different platforms.

I didn’t design it only for iTunes or Spotify.

It was designed to look great on several platforms.

Now that we know the theoretical part about how to create an awesome podcast artwork, let’s dive into the how to really do the work.

I will show you how to design an awesome podcast artwork using a design tool, Bannersnack.

But obviously, you can use any kind of design tool you want.

 

Start with the K.I.S.S. principle

What is the  KISS principle?

If you are new in design or marketing, the K.I.S.S. principle comes from Keep It Simple Stupid.

That means that starting from this principle you must understand that your podcast’s artwork should be simple to remember.

I used this principle when I designed my podcast artwork. I’m not saying that if you design awesome visual for your podcast people will come and download it and you will be the next Tim Ferriss.

No, your podcast’s artwork doesn’t have anything to do with your listeners.

If you want people to come listen to your podcast, download it, subscribe to it, share it with others, there are many things left  to be done. But this is another subject we can tackle in another article.

To design a podcast artwork that is based on the KISS principle you have to know 3 important things:

  1. Use simple images that are showing what the podcast is about
  2. Use only a few words.
  3. Don’t user more than 2 fonts

 

How to design a podcast artwork

And now let’s see how we can design a podcast artwork using Bannersnack as a design tool:

Step 1.

You go on bannersnack.com and signup (or login in) to the app.

Step 2

Choose the “Single Banner” feature and then select the Custom Size option. Here you can type the minimum size of the artwork: 1400 x 1400.

how to design podcast artwork

Step 3

Select a background for your artwork. I chose a gradient color for this artwork.

how to create podcast artwork

Step 4.

After this I will choose the cool font and write down my podcast’s name. For this example, I will say that the podcast is called “Marketing Culture Podcast

how to design podcast artwork

Step 5.

Choose the visual you want to have in your artwork. There are a few ideas you can use on your artwork. Some podcasts are using just some simple cliparts or icons in their design. Other podcasts are using their hosts’ faces or their company’s logo. It really depends on what the podcasts will be about.

But for the sake of the example, let’s say that in this podcast we will have 3 hosts. So make sure that you have a great high quality photo of your hosts and that you have a transparent background for it.

how to design podcast artwork

Step 6.

A podcast artwork is exactly like a banner ad. Don’t overcrowd it with other stuff that you think will make it more interesting. Just add a few simple details that will make it more visible.

I deleted the “Podcast” part because I wanted to keep it simple.

how to create podcast artwork

After I finished with the artwork, I click the “Save” button, name the work and download the .PNG

And there you are.

The simple steps you need to know on how to design a podcast artwork.

But again, that depends on your brand, on your goal and how you want people to recognize your podcast.

 

What to avoid in your artwork

There are a few things you should avoid when you are about to create your podcast artwork:

  1. Microphones & Headset icons– because there are a lot of visuals on iTunes in which they use these icons. Podcast is about audio, microphones and headset or speakers. You don’t have to “tell” your audience using this visual that it’s about a podcast. They already know that it’s a podcast.
  2. Bad colors – there are great color combinations (I’m recommending you to check out colorhunt.io where you can get all the great color combinations you want for your artwork) and there are also bad color combinations. Keep it simple and don’t use more than 2 or maximum 3 colors on your podcast.
  3. Bad fonts – as I already said, a podcast artwork can be just like a banner ad. When you use bad fonts, people can’t read your message because they won’t understand it and they won’t click on your podcast. Keep it simple. Don’t use more than 2 fonts on your podcast. Also make sure that your podcast’s title is used in your podcast artwork.

 

Over to you

Designing awesome podcast artwork that will stand out from the crowd is a simple task.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to ignore it.

Your podcast artwork is your show’s face. Make it look good so people will trust you, listen to you and share your work with their audience.

Now back to you, let me know in the comment section below what podcast shows you believe have the best artwork.

Your turn to comment:

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Robert Katai

Visual Marketer and Content Strategist

"Content isn’t king. Usefulness is. Robert does this in the online marketing and social media space with ease."

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