Actual Question: Should Your Podcast’s Name Contain Your Brand Name Too?
Few things on Business Internet are as cringe-worthy as someone trying to earn credibility by saying, “People often ask me…”. Let’s face it: nobody actually asked them anything. Today, I thought I’d skip the cliché and respond to an Actual Question from an Actual Person as a way to help you get Actual Answers — and also because my desire for strangers to like me knows no limits. (Why, yes, my mom DID tell me I was special as a kid, why do you ask?) This is Actual Questions … with me, Jay “Please Take Me Seriously” Acunzo.
Corey Haines is an actual person who actually asked me an actual question about how to name your company podcast.
Corey leads growth marketing at the software firm Baremetrics, which provides SaaS and other subscription startups with analytics and insights to help grow the business. Here’s what Corey asked me, and I’m thankful he did, because he forced me to finally figure out why I’m so oddly annoyed when a brand’s podcast uses their company name in the title.
Do you have opinions about naming a podcast after the brand or using a bespoke name?
— Corey Haines, an actual person who actually asked me this actual question, and also the head of growth at Baremetrics.
Corey, thanks for the question. You’ve built my self-esteem to new heights by asking me for advice, and my doorways will forever need to be widened to fit my giant head out of the house (once I have the desire to leave my house again in 2034).
There’s only one reason you’d name your podcast after your brand: it’s a show for your existing brand superfans.
If your podcast is named after your company, just be sure that the reason you’re making that show is to serve people who already love you a bit more deeply. That’s what a show like Inside Trader Joe’s does, for instance. (We dissected that show on our podcast, 3 Clips, right here.). When you name your show after YOU, others better already love — or at least know — YOU. That’s because a show named after YOU implies that the prerequisite to care about the show is to care about the brand — rather than to care about some kind of topical premise or a problem the show aims to solve.
The show’s name isn’t all-important (after all, what kind of a name is The Beatles or Apple? Names are given meaning thanks to the work done by those carrying the brand’s flag.) Still, the name is the first handle people will grab onto, the anchor they use to begin to shape a memory of the show or a first impression. It’s far better to anchor them to a descriptive or at least memorable-sounding name than it is your brand name, which, again, only appeals to those who are excited about your brand. It’s better to hint at something the audience already cares about than hope they look past the fact that they may not know who Baremetrics is (nor care). Even if they already know you, they may not be overly interested in your product just yet — but they might very much enjoy a show from you about something they already care about.
The Baremetrics Podcast just won’t convey that. You’re creating a little more friction than you might like to create for your audience to decide your show is for them.
Let’s use an example.
Pretend I run an imaginary company called Bamboozled. We sell all kinds of tools and ideas to help you create bamboo products and art projects. (Corey, I gotta be honest: I picked out the fake brand name before I knew what the fake products were going to be, and boy, sometimes these blog posts just write themselves…)
Anywho, if I created The Bamboozled Podcast — “the official podcast of Bamboozled” — then who would genuinely care about that show? People who already genuinely care about Bamboozled. People who don’t likely think to themselves, “Eh, this isn’t for me,” or, “Hmm, sounds like a corporate PR machine,” or perhaps simply, “This will be a generic interview show or chat-cast. Who cares…”
But if I named the show The Art of Bamboo … or Bamboo For You … well, maybe just maybe folks who care about building stuff out of bamboo would care.
When developing a show, the first challenge you’ll face isn’t to pick a microphone or a hosting platform. The first challenge is to say something that matters. The name is a small part of that, since the name evokes the show’s premise — aka the piece of your show where you articulate why it matters to your audience.
The premise can be articulated through a simple framework called the XY Premise Pitch. It runs like this:
- “This is a show about (X). Unlike other shows about (X), only we (Y).”
In other words, “This is a show about (topics). Unlike other shows about (topics), only we (hook).” Too many shows, especially from brands, are under-developed, in that there’s no real premise. They stop at articulating WHAT they explore, but really, it’s the combination of WHAT you explore and HOW you explore it that gives listeners a reason WHY they should care
The topics (the X part of the XY Premise Pitch) aren’t original or defining. As a result, showrunners which mistakenly believe their topics equals their premise end up building podcasts which fall very low on the Experience Spectrum, so they never gain any passionate fans. These shows are bad investments, Corey, and I don’t want you to create that kind of show. It’s not worth it for your career or skill development. It’s not worth it for Baremetrics as a brand. It’s not worth it for your audience. I want you to develop superfans.
That’s the entire goal of this showrunning stuff: earn trust and love. Shows are about total time spent and exploring things more deeply. As a result, shows are like relationship accelerators. They aren’t built for rapid growth or spread quite like a blog or social media account could be (and even then, that kind of thinking ends up hurting blogs and social media accounts). Instead, the point of a great show is to focus on resonance, not just reach.
It’s really hard to turn passive audience into active superfans if your podcast only appeals to existing superfans.
Thus, the XY Premise Pitch is a first, helpful way to think through your show development — which should then make a more bespoke name more obvious. (Here’s our end-to-end guide to develop an irresistible podcast premise. It’s a blog post, not a PDF. Zero forms required.)
“This is a show about (topics). Unlike other shows about (topics), only we (hook).” Plenty of content and even some shows already explore the same topics your podcast aims to explore. The goal is to say, “Yeah, but they don’t explore these topics like we do.” That’s the “Y” in the XY Premise Pitch — the hook. Your angle or conceit or gimmick or the journey of understanding you’re embarking on. You can’t “out-topics” or out-inform other shows. You can out-inspire, out-entertain, out-experience them. Compete on experience, not expertise. Expertise is a commodity today.
It’s hard to compete on experience when your show is named after your company.
So, should you name your podcast after your company? I vote no. The lone exception would be if your podcast is intended to appeal to your existing fans only, like the show from Trader Joe’s.
But if you want to own a theme in the market, or go deeper into important topics, or help change something for the better within your community — in other words, if you want to make a show that makes a difference — it’s better to give your podcast a bespoke name. Then it can appeal to existing fans and casual observers alike, thus turning those casual observers into superfans, too.
Good luck, Corey, and thanks for the Actual Question.
Founder of Marketing Showrunners, host of 3 Clips and other podcasts and docuseries about creativity, and author of Break the Wheel. I’m trying to create a world where people feel intrinsically motivated by their work. Previously in content marketing and digital strategy at Google and HubSpot and VP of brand and community at the VC firm NextView. I write, tinker, and speak on stages and into microphones for a living. It’s weird but wonderful.
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