The podcast world is ever-evolving, but in general, we can separate it into two camps: the indie podcast vs. the branded podcast. While they both may have similar aims, there are important distinctions between the two that are worth discussing.
Indie podcasts may be produced by an independent creator or artist hoping to boost their personal platform, build their brand or just speak their truth. Branded podcasts, however, are specifically designed to act as an extension of a company to help promote its products or services, or simply raise awareness about their brand overall.
Both indie podcasts and branded podcasts serve an important purpose within the audio landscape, and equally, they complement each other in different ways. For the purposes of this blog post, let’s look at the lessons indie podcasts can learn from branded podcasts, and what tips they can use as they develop their own podcast plan:
1. Be consistent
If there’s one thing many branded podcasts have nailed, it’s consistency of voice, tone and structure in their podcasts. No matter the medium you’re working with, audiences tend to respond well to consistency because they come to know what they can expect from your brand in terms of content.
Overtime, consistency in terms of tone, subject matter and posting cadence will establish trust and credibility with your audience, which will turn into a devoted listener base. While indie podcasters tend to be more off-the-cuff and spontaneous with their content (which is great, too!), it can be helpful to establish some sort of content calendar or structure to each episode so your audience can get a better handle on what you’re all about.
Consistency also goes for details like show notes, titles and social media posts. Your listeners will pick up on the extra effort you’ve put in to ensure consistency across the board, and new potential listeners will be more likely to give your show a listener for the first time if they see you’re serious about maintaining an overall professional look and feel. Here are some things to consider when it comes to consistency with your podcast and overall branding:
- Capitalization: Will you capitalize the first letter of each word in your episode titles, or only the first word? This is a small detail but one that people will notice if it’s inconsistent.
- Show notes: Are your show notes and episode descriptions usually short and succinct, or averaging two-three paragraphs in length? Whatever format you choose, make sure it’s consistent across the board. If you decide you’d like to switch up the format mid-way through a season, make this choice consciously and stick with it one way or another.
- Social media: there are many ways to be consistent or inconsistent with your social media posts. Do you always add hashtags at the end of the post? Do you put thought into your grid so you’re always alternating between a graphic and an image of your guest for that week? There are a million different decisions that go into making a social media account look effortless. It definitely doesn’t have to be perfect, but these are some things you may want to think about when coming up with a plan.
2. Be inclusive
While most corporations still have a long way to go in terms of inclusivity and diversity, many of them have made more of an effort to be representative of more races, gender identities and cultures in the content they create, especially within the last year. For indie podcasts, there may be less pressure overall to push the boundaries and work harder to be more inclusive of minority groups, but it should be of equal importance as it is for corporations.
When creating content of any kind, it’s important to do your own research and find out where your own blind spots may lie. Which audiences might you be alienating through your content? What type of person are you targeting? Be intentional about who you’re talking to and why, and consider how you might be more open and welcoming to other groups.
3. Push your own agenda
Another thing branded podcasts have down pat is how to push their key messaging, products or services without sounding overly salesy or pushy. If you’re an indie podcast, you may not have an “agenda” you’re trying to push, and that’s definitely okay, but you can still take notes from brands who are effectively using their podcast as a strategy to achieve a certain goal.
You may just want to have fun and spread a positive, uplifting message through your podcast, but even that is a goal within itself. To get even more intentional about your podcast goals, think about why you’re hitting the mic each week, and the message you hope to get across to your listeners.
Maybe you do have a product or service you’re trying to sell, in which case, check out branded podcasts who are doing this in a seamless, effective way without turning listeners away. Some great examples include:
- C Suite by TD
- Finance in 15 by PwC
- Take Back Talk Back by EQ Bank
- Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness
- The Be Well Podcast with Kelly Leveque
4. Get multiple perspectives
Even if you’re an indie solo podcaster, it can be useful to infuse your show with a variety of different backgrounds and perspectives. Brands have teams dedicated to podcasting, which means they’re able to benefit from several different viewpoints when it comes to creating content.
To add more diverse perspectives to your own show, try chatting with friends or family members to get their take, or reaching out to people who are doing interesting things in your area. You could also experiment with featuring guests on your show to ensure you’re featuring a variety of opinions instead of getting stuck in an echo chamber.