It’s hard to grow a podcast these days.
It’s even harder to keep doing the hard work when the results you dream of fail to appear.
You may feel demotivated when you see successes like Joe Rogan’s, who signed an exclusive deal with Spotify. Or you may feel like giving up when you see others publishing a new episode every week and getting so much awareness in the industry.
Yeah, sometimes it’s hard to find motivation, and comparing yourself to the best in the industry doesn’t really make you want to stay at your desk and push that Record button.
As a podcaster, you don’t have a specific platform where your podcast can get in front of your audiences (like the Youtube or TikTok algorithm). You don’t have an entire team behind your podcast show, and you don’t have a budget to invest in marketing.
It’s hard, and I truly understand you. I’ve been there.
Sometimes, I also found myself thinking about giving up because I saw no end to my podcast. Some of my friends told me that I should do videos on Youtube to gain more popularity. Others said they don’t even listen to my podcast because it’s only about marketing. And there were times when I didn’t get any feedback from my listeners.
It’s hard to be a one-man show for a podcast. You have so many hats to wear. You are in charge of everything, from writing the script, recording the podcast, editing the video, publishing the podcast, and promoting it on social media to sending the newsletter and creating visual content.
But you know what? You don’t have only a podcast.
You have another type of brand. A sub-brand of your parent brand.
Your podcast is a sub-brand.
And that’s how you need to treat your podcast: as you would treat a sub-brand.
What’s a sub-brand?
By creating a sub-brand, you create a subsidiary or secondary brand. A sub-brand is like a brand within a brand. Your parent brand contains your sub-brand. Sub-brands have the potential to modify the customer’s expectations and associations. That’s how sub-brands help brands create more profound meaning and a deeper connection with their audience.
To get a better understanding of what sub-brands are, here are some examples of brands and sub-brands you might be familiar with:
- Brand: Samsung.
- Sub-brand: Samsung Galaxy
- Brand: Toyota.
- Sub-brand: Toyota Prius
- Brand: Uber.
- Sub-brand: Uber Black
- Brand: Amazon.
- Sub-brand: Amazon Alexa.
You get the idea. Now let’s get to podcasting and see some examples of podcasts as sub-brands:
- Brand: HubSpot.
- Sub-brand: The Growth Show, Skill Up, and Weird Work
- Brand: Adobe.
- Sub-brand: Wireframe
- Brand: Bannersnack.
- Sub-brand: Drag & Drop Show
- Brand: Basecamp
- Sub-brand: ReWork
- Brand: Buffer
- Sub-brand: The Science of Social media, Breaking Bad
- Brand: MailChimp
- Sub-brand: Call Paul, Going Through it, Lifecycle of a Business.
If you need more examples, you can check out this huge list of B2B and B2C podcast shows and learn more about how big brands created sub-brands for their podcast shows.
Never underestimate the power of branding in today’s world. If you want to grow a podcast, you can’t just rely on classic digital marketing strategies to promote it. You have to create a brand. If you manage to create a brand that people trust, they will click on that play button to listen to your show.
It’s hard, I know. But I’m here to help.
After working with some big brands that launched their podcast, making my podcast the most popular in my country, and doing lots of research in this industry, here are my tips on creating and growing a podcast that is a sub-brand of your parent brand.
Build on your audience interest
Like any other project, you should always start a podcast with your audience’s interest in mind. Think about their intent, do the research, and figure out why they would choose your podcast.
According to Google, there are four primary intents a user can have when he is looking for something: transactional, informational, navigational, and commercial.
But in the world of podcasting, there are three interests a person can have before listening to a podcast:
- Educational: they want to be a better person.
- Entertainment: they want to have a good time.
- Informational: they want to be up to date with what’s new in a particular industry.
If you want to create a podcast that people will play and subscribe to, review, and share with their friends, you need to mix these three interests. The way you combine these elements will differentiate you from other shows and help you stand out.
Here are some examples of how you can mix the intent and types of podcasts you can create:
Educational + Entertainment = Edutainment
Informational + Entertainment = Infotainment
Educational + Informational = Infoducational
Now let’s see what each of those means.
Edutainment is an educational podcast where people talk about a particular topic to educate their audience. At the same time, they use distinctive, fun language and insert some narrative jokes to keep the audience engaged and entertained.
The edutainment podcast’s primary intent is to educate its audience but in a more relaxed, out of the box way.
For example, see how Bannersnack uses a relaxed and fun approach to educate its audience in
The Drag and Drop Show. The show is meant to give its audience the best marketing and design advice, using a relaxed approach.
The Infotainment podcast is a type of informational podcast where people talk about the industry’s breaking news, but they’re presented in a fun and relaxed way.
This type of podcast’s main intent is to inform their audience of the latest trends in the industry while keeping it cool and entertaining.
One example of how a niche’s latest trends can be fun and cool comes from the
PNR – This Old Marketing podcast by CMI. Each episode has 60 minutes and includes information on the latest content news, rants, and raves, and one example of the week.
The infoducational podcast aims to educate its audience but at the same time, present the latest news and updates from the industry.
First and foremost, it is an informational podcast created to educate the audience by keeping it professional.
Here’s a great example from Hubsopts expert Daniel Pink, the 1-3-20 podcast. In each episode, Dan chooses one business book that has made an impression on him and asks its author three key questions to offer its audience the best advice and actionable tips in under 20 minutes.
So, to sum-it-up, when thinking about your audience’s interests and how to build your sub-brand podcast upon them, you should focus on these three aspects:
- your brand
- your solutions
- your audience’s life, aspirations, interests, hopes, and dreams.
For example, if you are in the banking industry, your audience may be young families with hopes and dreams of a better life. In this case, you can think about finding ways to educate them financially with your podcast so that they can live the life they always dreamed of.
Your sub-brand podcast has to be in line with your brand’s tone of voice to keep consistency. If you are a fun brand addressing young people, you shouldn’t build a serious, business type of podcast. Do it in such a way that if someone asks: “What’s your brand ton of voice?” you can always say, “Listen to our podcast”.
Like naming your child
When we had our baby girl, we knew that we needed to give her a name. The funny thing was that even if we love our names, we are not the kind of people who name their children after their own names. So I came with three names and my wife found the right one. It’s something similar to her name but at the same time very different.
Why am I telling you this? Because I always say that naming a podcast is like naming your child. You can find something similar to your name, or you can go with something truly unique.
It doesn’t have to be about you, your product, or your service. Your podcast’s name must be about your audience and their interest.
For example, Netflix has multiple podcasts around their company culture where their employees talk about their work and life – “We Are Netflix”. But they also have audio shows around their movies like “The Crown – The Official Podcast” or behind the scenes like “Behind the Irishman” or “Inside Joke: Space Force”.
Another example comes from MailChimp with their content hub “MailChimp Presents”. You’ll see titles like “Call Paull”, “Going Through It” or “Lifecycle Of A Business”. But nothing like “Everything You Need to Know About MailChimp” or “MailChimp: Who We Are” or “MailChimp Podcast”.
Bottom line: your sub-brand name must be distinctive, but at the same time still cohesive for the brand you are working with.
How to create a unique name?
Analyze your audience and find out what are their main interests. What common words are they using? What common topics are-they interested in?
Write down 10 topics, ideas, and names, and then move forward. Always remember to make it easy to remember and catchy.
When I came with the name “The Drag and Drop Show” name for our podcast, I thought about some simple, common words every user knows about Bannersnack’s design tool. And that’s the Drag and Drop feature. So that’s how we named it. And yes, we also have an entire complicated theory behind this name, but I don’t want to waste your time here.
How to create a name based on your brand
Start from your brand’s name and use it to inspire the name of your sub-brand podcast series. You can use a composed name that contains your leading brand’s name and other elements. Or you can go with a word that’s very similar to your brand’s name but has its own touch.
Same brand, but different clothes
If you look at HubSpot’s podcast shows, you will see that they use the same colors on their website, logo presentation, and other digital elements. But they are used in different formats. The same goes for Netflix. You can do that for your podcast, too.
Talk to your graphic design team and ask them to create the podcast’s visual identity by using the same color palette as the main brand uses, but make it distinctive from the main brand.
If you go on The Rework Podcast website, you will see that their brand looks like the book cover Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson wrote back in the days. So the people who heard about The Rework book, Basecamp, Jason Fried or DHH, will know what to expect from this podcast. They will distinguish their brand from other podcast shows.
Make sure you use the same fonts and colors but differentiate the sub-brand from the parent brand while still making the connection clear.
This is very tricky because only a good graphic designer can give you that sense of looking the same but different. And because we live in a time where almost everything is visual, you need to understand that your podcast UI must be very close to your entire brand identity.
How would your podcast be different from all the other podcasts?
I always tell this to everyone who wants to start a podcast.
Maybe the easiest way to start a podcast is to grab the microphone and begin interviewing someone. In this case, you build your identity and fame on the back of others who are already famous. But guess what? Not every celebrity you want to interview will accept your invitation. So, before you pitch those guests and ask them to join you, make sure you have a podcast that stands out from the crowd and creates its own crowd.
I’m going to tell you how you can do that. Being different and unique comes from these specific podcast elements: your unique personality, a different point of view, and a different audio UX. Let’s see what each of them means in the world of podcasts and how you can use them to stand out.
1. Your personality
When we talk about podcasting, the host’s personality has a huge role to play. If you have the kind of personality that fills the room when you arrive at a party, you can start a podcast to showcase it. Just look at Jimmy Fallon; we all know how extroverted and funny he is.
But you don’t need to be very energetic if that’s not your personality. You may have other qualities you can bring to the table. Just listen to Guy Raz and how he runs the “How I Built This” Podcast. Notice how curious he is as a person, and notice the way he makes his guests feel.
Last but not least, don’t try to copy celebrities like Kevin Hart, Jimmy Fallon, or Oprah. All of these stars had years and years of practice working and crafting their personal brand. Instead, try to be unique and showcase your own personality, qualities, and charisma.
2. A different point of view
I strongly believe that every topic can be viewed from several points of view. In fact, every person on this earth can have his/her unique point of view about a topic. I can talk about marketing differently from anyone else. And you know why? Because I’m speaking from my own experience. And when I learn from my own experience, I have my own stories, struggles, and ideas. And that’s why I can come up with a different point of view.
For example, take a look at how Basecamp started their podcast, “Rework”. It’s the kind of podcast you want to listen to if you have read their founder’s book or follow their blog or Twitter page. Because they have a different point of view, based on experience, about the topics they mention since the first day they launched their company.
3. A different audio UX
This is a differentiator I saw at Jay Acunzo (thanks Jay), who has this approach to the 3 Clips podcast or his interview. It all starts with the Audio UI/UX. The way your listeners “feel” the episode and the way they “listen” to it is rooted in the way the creator has edited it.
The way the episode is edited, the way it is inserted with new ideas, new jingles, and new audio tracks creates an entire user experience. In fact, the whole episode is a unique experience every time.
When I started listening to Akimbo from Seth Godin, I saw a different approach to solo podcasting. In The Daily Hope of Rick Warren, I saw a different approach to sending a message. The Daily Dad helps me enjoy a different kind of podcast. Every podcast is different in its statement, in its editing, and its approach to audio UX.
Now think about your own audio UX. How can it help you be different from any other podcasts from your category?
Last but not least – don’t forget about TIME. Give your podcast the time it needs to grow. The industry is still new, and we don’t yet have Google Analytics for podcasts or a system where you can recommend podcasts, something like Youtube (even if Spotify is on the road to acquire that name). That’s why a podcast’s monetization is still very hard to obtain, and you have to be patient.
The same way you gave your brand time to grow, you have to give your sub-brand podcast time to grow.