As podcasting gets more sophisticated and competitive, podcasters are looking for ways to “brand” their podcast, so they stand out and attract an audience. They usually think of graphics, web pages and social media posts in their branding package, but rarely do they consider the power of Audio Branding. What is Audio Branding??? It is creating a professional production which is used consistently in every episode that grabs the listener and is memorable. This can include a jingle, music, professional voiceovers, sound effects and any combination of the above. I present this topic at the Podfest Expo Conventions and I start by asking the audience of podcasters, “How many of you know what audio branding is”? Usually, only a few hands go up. That is, until I play the audio that accompanies the Netflix logo; the first 5 notes of the McDonalds “I’m Lovin’ it” jingle and the Microsoft Windows sound upon computer boot up. That shows the power of using “audio” as a branding tool. The minute a listener hears a particular piece of audio, their brain goes to a product or event. Creativity and consistency are key!
Things to consider
The first thing to recognize is what most podcasters are currently doing. Most will download a “royalty free production music” track, play it low in the background and begin talking over it to introduce their podcast. This is not the most ideal use of audio branding. Consider an audio brand happening “before” that intro segment. The audio brand piece should never change, while the podcaster intro over a music bed may change based on different episodes.
MUSIC – You want to make sure your music is memorable. Catchy music will stick with listeners and help to cement the brand. The goal should be to make a lasting impression on your audience. Pick music that is dynamic; has room to fit in voiceovers and sound effects instead of continuous music that leaves no room. This allows the music to be at the same volume as any voices and effects instead of buried in the background. At the end of an intro audio brand, it is good practice to have a 20 – 30 second slow fade of music. This makes for a professional transition into the beginning of the episode intro. During editing, it can be adjusted to fit best.
VOICEOVERS – It is worth the investment to get professional voiceovers for any audio branding you do. Listeners will engage with them, and a good voiceover artist is able to craft their voice for the best impact. The right voice (or voices) along with power music that fits your brand and vibe will work best.
SOUND EFFECTS – Sound effects are extremely effective. Think of the Netflix “duh dum” you hear at the Netflix intro logo. It is as much a sound effect as it is music. A sound effect is a great way to begin your podcast and end it. That way it is the first and last thing the listener hears. They will recognize the sound and relate it to your podcast after a few listens. Let’s say you have a podcast about home improvement. The sound of a drill or saw would be great to start with as you bring in the other variables like a jingle, voiceover, and music. You would want the last sound of the episode to be the same.
JINGLES/AUDIO LOGOS – The MOST effective use of audio branding is to have a custom jingle created. A short 10 – 20 second “catchy” song is all that is needed. This works well in creating a brand that is specific to your podcast. Think of the show “Fiends” and the opening theme song, “I’ll Be There for You”. This gets the listener engaged and prepped for the show. Once they hear the first line of the song, they are thinking about the show. If I were to sing you the line “Here’s the story, of a lovely lady….”, many of you would recognize that it is from the show the “Brady Bunch”. Jingles work very well when it comes to Audio Branding. You would want to make sure to include any jingle on all web sites or social media posts. The more people hear it, the better!
AUDIO SHOW SNIPPETS – One other variable that can be included in audio branding is audio snippets from any past interviews you may have done. Any “impactful” or “powerful” quotes work well. Anything that shows emotion. A comedy podcaster who interviews comedians could pull some good one-liners or punch lines and blend with appropriate music, voiceovers and maybe a laugh track. This would create a catchy audio brand that would draw listeners in and something that they would remember.
Audio Branding doesn’t end with the start of the Episode
Do not limit yourself to just an audio brand at the start of your podcast. Have an audio brand segment at the end and, if possible, one or two audio brand pieces in the body of your episode to act as “bumpers” or segways. For example, if you do an opening monologue and then go into an interview, you could place an audio brand segment between the two to make for a nice transition. Also, don’t forget about any sponsors you may have. A produced sponsor ad can create opportunities to include your own branding.
The example below shows a diagram of how Audio Branding segments can be incorporated in a podcast episode. The “blue down arrows” are opportunities to add “branded” segments in an episode. This example is set up with a monologue, interview, and product review. Yours will probably have a different layout but you can use strategic times to incorporate your “bumpers”. While the episode content will vary each time, the audio brand segments should NOT change.
Be creative and do some research to find ways to use effective audio branding for your podcast. Here at Podcast Production Music, we help clients find ways to maximize results with their audio brand segments. We are happy to consult with you to find what will work best to create a powerful audio brand to complement your other forms of branding and make your Podcast stand out from the crowd.