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All Eyes and Ears: Best Practices for Podcast Cover Art

Shelby Cron Boyd
February 13, 2024

So you’ve entered the vibrant world of podcasting, have you? You’ve brewed up the perfect blend of wit, insight, and hilarity. You’re all set up and ready to inspire the world with your unique perspective … but hold on! You need a podcast cover. Or maybe you have one, but it’s just not cutting it.

What are you going to release into the crowded digital landscape of podcast-dom to vie for the attention of billions of daily users? A podcast cover isn’t just eye candy; it’s the first impression, the tantalizing teaser, and the magnetic force that says, “Hey, listen to this!” 

So, buckle up as we reveal our best tips for making your podcast cover the secret sauce to transforming curious browsers into dedicated listeners.

Cornea Catchiness

Your podcast cover is the visual equivalent of a catchy jingle that sticks in your head and elicits a feeling — comfort, shock, or what have you — each time it is seen. A well-designed cover serves as the face of your show, creating a lasting impression that lingers long after the episode ends. It’s the sly wink that says, “Remember me?” when your audience is scrolling through a sea of listening options.

As Spotify puts it, you should never “​​start designing a cover before understanding your podcast’s visual identity”. So, before you dive into graphic design mode, here’s a simplified version of their step-by-step guide to doing just that:

  • Make a list of keywords to describe your podcast.
  • Form your elevator pitch. Try defining your podcast in one or two sentences in order to really hone in on your idea.
  • Identify your target podcast audience. What community or interest group aligns with your niche? (See more in tip #2.)
  • Ask yourself what makes your podcast special and different from others.
  • Pinpoint other podcasts that inspire you, and identify what you like about their cover art.
  • Is your podcast for your brand or business? Figure out how your professional values factor into your podcast branding.

This approach is exactly how we helped our client Point NorthEast develop the cover image for their podcast, Level Up Your Business. Given that Point NorthEast is a business consulting firm, we wanted to make sure that the keyword “business” was not only in the podcast title, but also prominently displayed on the cover art.

Podcast cover with blue background, white text that reads "Level Up Your Business", with yellow arrow behind the text that points up into the top right corner of the image.

We took inspiration from Point NorthEast’s “Up and to the Right” mantra, which focuses on the upward momentum that is necessary for a business to grow. We not only incorporated the “level up” keyword into the podcast title, but used a non-linear, up-and-to-the-right arrow to give a visual example of this.

We tied it all together with Point NorthEast’s logo (which features mountain peaks with the same upward trajectory as the arrow), their brand colors, and text that really pops off the image, giving an almost 3-dimensional look. We think it really works!

Quick Tips:

  • Different podcast platforms may have specific requirements for cover art. Make sure your design meets their guidelines. Here’s a guide from Apple to get you started.
  • Remember that many listeners discover podcasts on mobile devices, so ensure your cover looks good in smaller sizes.

How to Captivate “Your People”

As previously mentioned when discussing Spotify’s tips, you have to consider this: Who is your target audience? A successfully captivating cover invites your type of people — the ones to whom you wish to cater and convince to take the plunge into your content, promising an experience that’s as delightful as the imagery suggests. After all, who can resist the allure of a podcast that satisfies the eyes and the ears?

Podcast cover with illustrated images of Gareth Reynolds and Jake Johnson, wearing sweaters and using vintage headphones, mics, and sound equipment.

Jake Johnson and Gareth Reynolds, a goofy actor/comedy duo with no real qualifications to guide you through life’s challenges, started a podcast called We’re Here to Help where they offer up “free advice that feels … free”. Funny concept, right?

Here’s why their cover art works so well:

  • They used their faces (familiar faces, especially to those who enjoy comedy or have seen New Girl) on the cover to catch your attention.
  • They spell it out for you by utilizing a tagline that gives you a pretty good idea of what you can expect from them without giving away the juicy stuff.
  • They utilized a) an eye-catching color palette and b) an illustration style that perfectly breaks up the sea of studio-quality, posed images with no real interest.

Quick Tips:

  • Tailor your podcast cover to resonate with your target audience’s preferences and interests.
  • Consider using bold and vibrant colors to attract attention. If that’s not your jam, then use this opportunity to exercise creativity with minimal designs.
  • Use high-quality, visually appealing images that convey the theme or essence of your podcast. (Bonus points if you get your face on the cover. People’s mugs just do a better job catching attention when it comes to online content.)
  • If all else fails, research leading podcasts in your category to get ideas on how to stand out from the competition.

Click-Worthy Charm

If a potential listener is scanning through an ocean of podcasts, your cover is the lighthouse guiding them home. An aesthetically pleasing and professionally crafted cover not only piques interest but also signals quality and trustworthiness. If a user is easily and quickly able to discern what your podcast is about simply based on your cover art, then you, my friend, are nailing it. 

Here’s a few examples of branded podcast covers that exemplify what we’re talking about.

Podcast cover with an illustration of a McDonald's red sauce container, with a yellow background. The font and color styles emulate McDonald's brand.
Podcast cover with artistic, illustrated images of food, eating utensils, and a shovel, intermixed with the text of the podcast title, "Why We Eat What We Eat."
Podcast cover with solid red background, the white Trader Joe's logo, and white text beneath it that reads "(inside)."

All three of these podcasts are owned by their respective brands, and each does a great job of putting recognizable iconography and additional branded elements front and center to inspire clicks and listens.

Quick Tips:

  • Maintain consistency with your overall brand, using similar colors, fonts, and themes as your podcast brand. This will heighten the cozy, familiar feeling listeners get when they come across your podcast.
  • Symbols and iconic imagery can enhance recognition and make your cover stand out as a leading authority on the topic at hand.
  • If all else fails, incorporate your logo in the design and go from there!

The fact of the matter is, there’s lots of directions to take your podcast design; sometimes it’s just the initial spark of an idea that can get the ball rolling. That being said, we’ll leave you with this helpful link of pinned podcast covers that will hopefully get your creative juices flowing!

Bonus Content! Random Podcast Recommendations

Did you think we were going to just leave you without a few podcast recommendations of our own? Check out what the Random team always has in their podcast queue:

Lauren Patterson, Co-Founder and CEO recommends The Economics of Everyday Things. “I love this podcast because it dives deep into the economics of a topic in a really interesting way. It’s a great reminder that there are so many angles to tackle a problem or to tell a story with. The episodes are short and engaging, even if you weren’t an econ major in college.”

John Patterson, Co-Founder/Chief Strategy Officer recommends No Such Thing As A Fish. “It feeds my curiosity and is unstructured enough that it still has some thrill of discovery. Even if you see the title of the episode, there’s still something surprising and useful to learn.”

Ryan Allen, Director of Marketing: “My favorite podcast is Kreative Kontrol, hosted by Canadian music journalist Vish Khanna. It’s an interview-style podcast, with no real special hook or clever angle. Instead, the set up is an intimate conversation between an interviewer who is clearly a huge fan of his guest’s work and independent musicians, authors, comedians, and other entertainment related folks looking to promote a new project. Vish’s interview style is humorous, informal, and relaxed, but also very well-researched. 

Recent guests include Tommy Stinson from the Replacements, 90s rockers the Breeders, new twangy indie band Ratboys, and author Michael Azerrad — who wrote “Come As You Are”, the definitive book on Nirvana. I’m a huge music nerd, so this is all like aural candy for me!”

Stefany Graves, Account Executive: “I have been an avid listener to most/all of the comedy podcasts out there. The ones that I keep in a constant rotation are Your Mom’s House, Bad Friends, Whiskey Ginger, Good For You, Are You Garbage?, Hey Babe, Taste Buds, and sooooo many more. I just really love to escape into other people’s lives and get a good laugh.”

Allison Andres, Senior Social Media Marketing Specialist:13 is the quintessential podcast for every Swiftie out there, with deep dives into everything Taylor Swift. I’m also a huge fan of Brittany Broski’s podcast, The Brittany Broski Report. She really knows how to make you laugh and then have an existential crisis in the same episode.”

Shelby Cron Boyd, Social Media Marketing Specialist: “My podcast recommendation is two-fold. My first rec has to be This American Life, hosted by Ira Glass. It’s such a fascinating listen each week with folks from all walks of life, with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. Each week they choose a theme and then interview people with experiences related to that topic, producing riveting, relatable and sometimes wild stories that ‘unfold like little movies for radio’. 

My second recommendation would be Films To Be Buried With hosted by Brett Goldstein (Roy Kent from Ted Lasso). As a self-proclaimed cinephile and talented actor/director/producer, Brett creates a very welcoming atmosphere for each of his guests to talk about their life in the context of film.”

Looking to create your own podcast, but you aren’t sure where to start? Random can help you with everything from cover art design to production and distribution. Contact us below to get started!

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