Being a successful podcaster takes a lot of creativity, skill, and editing. It also requires a lot of listeners. And how do you reach potential podcast listeners? We notice things first with our eyes, so before you reach some curious ears, you need a top-notch logo.
Podcasts are, it seems, the media of today. The tempo of modern life dictates the way we consume information, so podcasts make the perfect recipe for learning or listening to something entertaining while going about your business. They are everywhere—whether you listen to them on iTunes, Spotify, NPR, or you are just an up-and-coming content creator struggling on Soundcloud—you probably share the impression that podcasts are here to stay.
But, the fact that podcasts are increasingly popular, also means that for a podcast creator, it is hard to stand out. Of course, the content of the show is the most important part. But what’s good content without the perfect visuals to support it? Think of yourself browsing in a bookshop and choosing the one with a mesmerizing book cover. That is how your own podcast should stand out.
You can follow general graphic design principles, but keep in mind that a podcast artwork needs more pizazz to catch the attention of new listeners. There are also some constraints and rules you’d have to brief your designer on or follow if you are a podcaster who does their own artwork.
So, if you dabble in the art of podcasting, in this article, we’ll offer some rules for designing good podcast logos, and apply great examples of highly popular podcasts that nailed their logos.
Before we lay down the basics of a good logo, we should also mention that there are a few rules that make podcast logos a bit harder to design.
Basically, each podcast directory has its own rules for best practices, but almost all of them require a 1:1 dimension of the logo or cover art. The minimum size is 1400x1400 pixels, while the maximum size shouldn’t be more than 3000x3000 pixels. The square shape is a bit constraining because you get a canvas with a small size.
When it comes to colors, there really isn’t a strict rule on what to do. If you don’t have a strong knowledge of colors and how to combine them for a visually pleasing result, following an RGB color space might be helpful to give you a color scheme that will bring the best possible results. The RGB system is mostly used for digital media because of the brighter colors and hues, and you’ll mostly use these designs online.
You want to have good contrast—a strong, vibrant color that stands out on an elegant, dark background. Or the other way around.
This is pretty standard, but the font itself always tells a story. For example, use sans serif fonts if your podcast has a more casual character. Sans serif fonts are commonly used in informal content (opposite to their predecessor, the serif font family).
For example, if your podcast is about true crime, you’d want to use a stern, serious, slick, and elegant font. Or, let’s say, you want the first impression of your future podcast listeners to be that this is a funny and entertaining podcast, you might want to look into more playful, handwritten fonts. You can check some popular fonts content creators use here.
The final design you’d have to upload to the podcast directory should be jpg or png for best results. Compress the image size so it can optimize for mobile devices and load quickly on Google and other search engines when someone is browsing for suggestions. A png file is usually preferable.
Deciding on using a common design is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you don’t want your design to feel like a ripoff. If you scroll through podcast apps, you’ll see that every other cover art includes either headphones or a microphone. Or the podcasters sitting at a table and discussing. So, you might want to go for something more authentic.
On the other hand, that is what differentiates podcasts and all other audible media formats. So, the common sense advice would be—you can use these regular objects related to the product, but add something that makes it look fresh and unique. For example, use the negative space to form a microphone, or shape your logo in its form.
Keep in mind that you will probably have to create a podcast cover art that is also usable for a business card and your social media accounts. So you (or your designer) also have to take care of the dpi count for printing matters, and the proportion that the text takes up of the image as a whole. In order to do that, refrain from including the tagline in the logo so as not to make it noisy. You can include it in the description, or in the cover photos on your social media profiles.
Some of these examples aren’t a logo per se, but more of a cover art example. Nonetheless, you can learn a lot from these clever examples: they combine powerful graphic design and relevance to the subject matter.
Pretty self-explanatory—only 1 percent of the whole is highlighted. This podcast shines a light on the other 99 percent: the things we never wonder about and how they came to be.
Gimlet’s The Habitat uses a great illustration with a well-picked color scheme. It tells the story of six volunteers picked to live on a fake planet.
Another amazing podcast cover art. As a whole, it is an illustration, but taking the eye out of the whole composition gives a unique logo that is very related to the subject. The podcast features community updates from the mysterious, desert town of Night Vale.
This American Life is a podcast that collects stories from ordinary citizens across the USA and sorts them in thematic episodes. And the logo is top-notch—it uses symbols that make it quite obvious it is a discussion or a storytelling show, connecting them in a puzzle that represents the American flag. The font alludes that it is made by journalists—it is very similar to famous, old-school press fonts.
This science podcast focuses on the things that shape human ideas and beliefs, by fusing narrative storytelling with science. Since it is talking about the invisible in life and society, every letter of the title is hidden or partially covered by the other.
This podcast offers a rich archive of interviews with different people, on different topics. It is an homage to the golden era of radio, hence the title. The logo on itself stands out very well because of the 3D effect, but the real richness is on the covers of each individual episode. Every installment has its own watercolor illustration.
This hit podcast by Vox comes out every day, and it simplifies and explains the burning matter of today. The cover art is simple, yet effective—it is a weekly calendar.
This podcast logo isn’t in the A-list as the other examples, but it is a great use of a microphone shape and the Python logo. It is focused on software coding (precisely the Python programming language).
Whether you are a designer who is a first-time podcast logo maker, or someone who has their own podcast and loves a good ol’ DIY approach, you can impress the potential listeners with your high-quality logo design by following these few steps.
If you need more inspiration, just go to a podcast directory like iTunes, Stitcher, NPR, Soundcloud or many others to see some great examples. Or simply google it and lose yourself in tons of creative podcasts (and their logos).