Your show can lose potential new listeners before they've even hit play. One of the main reasons for this is your cover art, also known as your podcast logo.
It seems a bit silly that a purely audio medium would place so much onus on something visual. But that's the reality of it.
Whether podcast listeners are aware of it or not, they'll make a quick judgement based purely on your podcast logo.
It's a shame to do all the hard work of creating a great podcast, only to have it severely limited by a simple piece of cover art.
Fortunately for you, that's not going to happen. In this guide, we're going to make sure your show looks as good as it sounds, and always encourages new listeners to hit play.
The guide is made up of two main parts.
- First up, what actually makes for a great podcast logo? What are the best practices? What are the common pitfalls?
- Secondly, once you have an idea of what you want, how do you actually get podcast artwork? We'll give you options for any budget, or no budget at all.
Less is More: Designing Great Podcast Artwork
In this first section, we'll pass you over to the very capable hands of Wil Williams. Here, Wil offers us tips and advice, along with some great podcast logo examples.
Show what you're about
Think about what's most important about your podcast. What are your main topics of discussion? What categories is your podcast in?
Then, take those ideas and think about what symbols usually accompany them. Podcasting about finance or accounting? Think about the dollar sign, the Pound sign, the Euro sign, the yen sign. Podcasting about movies or TV? It's hard to go wrong with a film reel or, you know, a TV.
All of those objects alone are probably going to be mundane, but it's how you combine them that will make you stand out. There might be lots of podcasts about finance or TV, but what else makes your podcast special?
Be sure to incorporate those things, too.
Case Study #1: Conversations With People Who Hate Me
Let's look at Conversations with People Who Hate Me‘s art as an example.
Conversations with People Who Hate Me is a podcast in which the host, Dylan Marron, has a conversation with someone who's left him a hateful message online. Let's break down what's going on in this art:
- Speech bubble: The show signifies its conversational aspect not just through its name, but through a big comic book style speech bubble right at the top of the image.
- Dylan Marron: Marron is well-known online, so his image here makes sense, and the cartoon makes it a little less intense than a standard headshot. His pose is comfortable and casual, inviting and warm. So is the chair he's in.
- The laptop: The open laptop he's looking at shows that this podcast is going to handle how we talk about things online.
- The Facebook thumbs down: Facebook notoriously doesn't give users a thumbs down reaction for posts, but here, it's used to show that the podcast will discuss the negativity of social media.
The creator of this podcast's art could have just gone with the speech bubble, Dylan Marron, the laptop, or the thumbs down.
But all of those things alone wouldn't allow the podcast to stand out. It's how they come together. This isn't just a podcast about conversations; it's a podcast about conversations and hate online.
That's a huge difference, and it makes their art accurate and unique.
Keep your podcast artwork simple
Before you start getting too excited with all the images you could use, though, think about what Coco Chanel said about accessories: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”
Conversations with People Who Hate Me uses about 4 images to convey its meaning. 4 isn't a lot, but any more and this podcast artwork could quickly become overwhelming. But if you can do less and still capture the spirit of your podcast, you should always do less.
Case Study #2: Spirits
And speaking of the spirit–let's look at Spirits as an example.
Spirits is a podcast about drinking and discussing mythology, folklore, and urban legends. Each episode, they make a drink that pairs with that week's subject. The podcast's tagline is, “Kinda creepy, kinda cool.”
All of that comes together perfectly with just two images here: the martini and the skull.
Spirits could have gone with any number of images from the stories they discuss, but instead, they kept it simple. It makes their logo extremely memorable and striking.
Most people's brains are pretty bad at memorizing images. The less data you give them to store, the better they'll store it.
If you want your podcast logo to be memorable, it needs to be as simple and clean as possible.
Think about your font
When people think about art, they usually only focus on the images.
Don't ignore your font. The way your title is written can convey a lot of your tone.
When you think about your font, your first criteria should be legibility. You don't want anything too intricate. You want to make sure each letter is clear.
Your next criteria should be figuring out how your font's aesthetic fits in with your podcast's aesthetic.
People's eyes read sans-serif (fonts that don't have decorative lines at the bottoms or tops of letters) fonts better on screens than serif fonts.
Most podcasts do well with sans serif fonts, but if the tone of your podcast is more classic than modern, you might be able to get away with a serif font.
Serif fonts are best for podcasts that are traditional, professional journalism, or discuss something like literature or art. Serif fonts will give a more traditional, scholarly tone.
If your podcast is fiction, you can get a little more creative–especially if your podcast is set in a specific era.
Let's look at The Penumbra Podcast‘s art for an example.
The font for The Penumbra Podcast logo is halfway between a serif and sans-serif font. It can get away with being more decorative because it takes up most of the space in the art–making it easier to read–and because it convey's the podcast's noir tone even more than the actual image being used.
The image here references that the podcast takes place in a hotel. The font, though, is what shows it's going to feel like the noir movies of the 1940s.
Your font can carry a lot of your podcast's tone. Make sure it's easy to read, but also make sure it shows what your podcast feels like.
Make your podcast artwork small
Because my hands are tiny, I only buy tiny phones. Because my phones are tiny, everything on them is tiny.
That means that your tiny little podcast artwork in a podcatcher looks even smaller to me than it probably does to you.
And it still has to look great.
When you start getting down a preliminary design you like, stop before you finalize anything. Then, make it small.
How small can you get it while still being able to see everything important?
There's a good chance that when you zoom out on your work, you're going to see that it's more cramped than you realized–or that there's too much blank space, or that your title just disappears.
Make the edits you think you need, keep working, and then repeat this again.
Doing this might mean that you have to change your font to something bolder or delete some design elements. This will feel frustrating at first. It will feel like you're not doing justice to all of the things that make your podcasts unique.
Don't listen to that instinct. Go for more simplicity. Remember, you can always change your podcast logo later if you need to. For now, though, make sure your art looks good when it's small.
Make your podcast artwork big
Apple requires a 1400 x 1400 pixel piece of art for your podcast, and that's great. You always want a huge image to make sure you've got something high quality when you want to make a header image or physical items like business cards or shirts.
But that naturally begs the question: what are you going to do about header images, business cards, or shirts?
Podcasters always seem to forget header images. Header images are high-resolution, landscape-oriented images that you or other sites can use on a website. You can't use your square podcast cover art as a header image on a website without it looking blocky and poorly proportioned. A header-style image should be about a 3:2 ratio, so something like 2100 x 1400.
So, how can you make your podcast artwork big? What can you add to either side to make it landscape-style? How can you do this without making it look like you just slapped something on the sides of your art?
Will you have to make completely new art for this? Maybe. But good, simple logo designs should lend themselves to nice header images too.
You can also find interesting ways to change your art up without losing its feel.
Then, think about your merchandise and business cards. Will you use your podcast logo for those?
Business cards aren't squares (unless you specifically buy square business cards), so you'll have to think about how to incorporate your logo into a portrait or landscape rectangle.
Like we talked about on our merch article, most human torsos aren't just squares. How will you change your podcast's dimensions to look nice on a tee shirt? What elements will you need to lose to make it look good on a tote bag or a hoodie?
Podcast Logo Specifications
There are certain requirements for podcast cover art when it comes to being approved in directories such as iTunes/Apple Podcasts.
- Your artwork should either be 1400 x 1400, or 3000 x 3000 pixels.
- It should be in either JPEG or PNG form, RGB colour.
- According to media hosting platform Libsyn, keeping the file size under 500KB is optimal.
Apple also recommend you have no text in the lower 15% of your cover art. This is because they add a player over this section on some devices, so your show title may end up hidden.
Summarising: What Makes a Great Podcast Logo?
Making great podcast artwork is so important when trying to find your audience. New listeners will judge a book by its cover.
But making your podcast logo doesn't have to be difficult.
- Think about what's important to your podcast. What category does it fit and what makes it unique? Factor that into the images and the font.
- Make your art simple. That makes sure it's memorable and clear even when it's small.
- When you're designing your art, zoom out to make sure it still looks good when it's small, too.
- Don't forget to plan on what your header images and merch will look like.
How to Create Your Podcast Artwork Using Canva
Now we know the sort of podcast cover art we'd like to create. The next step is to actually make it. There are a couple of options here, from the DIY approach, to hiring a designer. First up, let's focus on the DIY/free route. A popular tool to use for this is Canva. We'll now hand over to Scott Hastie who's going to walk us through it.
What Is Canva?
At The Podcast Host, we use Canva for many of our graphic needs. It’s quite simply an online graphic editor. This means you can create podcast artwork in no time at all. However there’s plenty of items to play about with if you do want to spend a great deal of time on it.
So let's have a look at how Canva works, and all of the brilliant features available within it.
Free or Paid
There are three different models of Canva you can use which will depend upon your needs. There is a free model which gives you 1GB space to work with on creating your various graphics you might need for your podcast.
This also gives you up to 8,000 templates and many images to access for free.
Canva For Work is the premium version of the website which costs $12.95 per month. For this price you get all of the images available in Canva’s free model however you also get so much more.
You get free access to over 400,000 photographs and images to use for your cover art. Canva For Work also gives you the opportunity to get more creative with fonts, photographs you upload and even gifs!
There is a further quote by quote Canva Enterprise model, which gives you a dedicated account manager. For the purposes of this review though we’ll be using Canva For Work. There is a 30 day trial on offer for Canva For Work which we wholeheartedly support you trying out.
Choosing A Template
When you log into Canva’s homepage you’ll be faced with a plethora of choice at the templates on offer.
The site lists various categories of templates, and whilst this can seem overwhelming, Canva does list them in a logical way.
For example if you’re looking to make a social media picture, it lists all of the templates surrounding various Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under ‘Social Media Posts’.
There’s also categories for creating professional documents, creating blogs, book covers and even postcards. It’s all laid out cleanly and everything is labelled user-friendly.
Whilst we’re focusing here on podcast cover art, it's worth noting that Canva’s home page is mouth-watering if you’re a creative person. There’s so much opportunity here to create anything you need.
Sadly, I don’t have time to review absolutely every template on Canva. I genuinely wish I did!
For our podcast cover art, I’ve gone for ‘Logo', which is under the ‘Marketing Materials’ category.
Selecting Your Background
Once you select your template, Canva will load up its actual editor window for you. Again the website has made this very user friendly by keeping all of it’s features within different tabs. We’ll start with selecting your podcast cover art background.
There are a good number of backgrounds available here for free which are colourful and act as nice wallpapers for your image. Within Canva’s one million plus images, you’ll find a gargantuan amount of images and backgrounds you can purchase too.
This may make you screech inside, because let’s be honest nobody likes the prospect of paid assets within an app. However, don’t fret too badly.
All of Canva’s paid images are only $1 each. And if you want to use a handful of these to put together a high quality logo, a few bucks isn’t going to burn your pocket too badly.
When selecting your background you probably want to think about two things. First of all you want to make sure that it’s basic. On the whole with graphics, less is more.
If your background has too much going on, it’s going to detract from the forefront. Which will no doubt include the words and images that truly sell your podcast to listeners. Stay basic!
The holy grail is finding a basic image that also somehow relates to your podcast. For example, I was testing out Canva to create podcast cover art for a podcast about writing lists. Thankfully I found a background which illustrated a notepad, which immediately links to writing.
Once you have your background in place, it’s time to explore the world of elements available on Canva.
There are a number of different folders available on Canva’s editor and you can honestly spend hours exploring and testing everything out.
The most important thing to note is the thousands of free photos on hand. These are categorised into many different brackets such as Food, People & Nature.
As we’re looking to quickly put together your cover art, we’re going to discuss the best features within Canva.
Grids, Frames & Shapes
Canva’s inbuilt Grids might not be the best for your podcast cover art, but the variety on show makes it a must-mention. If you want to split your logo to feature different items, you can cut up your image with Grids.
Other graphic packages have Grids, but Canva give you the opportunity to cut your image from two parts all the way through to one hundred parts!
There’s also cool and creative frames on hand which allow you to create your image within a smartphone frame or within a window frame.
These are all fun functions to try out, but shapes is probably the first thing you’ll need. There’s a fair amount of colourful and transparent shapes of different styles and sizes you can choose from here.
And if you want a multitude of shapes, you can layer them on top of each other.
Whilst this is great, it would be good if Canva allowed you to manually edit shapes, as Adobe Photoshop can do. Most users will be satisfied with basic shapes, but for people who are looking for something very specific, Canva might not have what they need.
With that said though, you can still edit the sizing and alignment of these shapes, so Canva for the most part is useful on this front.
Icons & Illustrations
Canva has a cool selection of icons and illustrations which you can choose from to bring your podcast cover art to life. There’s plenty of bright, colourful, professional looking animated images to search through.
You can also change colours of pre-made illustrations which is a great feature on Canva.
Most graphic design sites offer stock illustrations. But the ability to change the colour schemes really make them feel like they were custom designed for your own brand.
For example if you’re making a Sports podcast, you can add in images of sports items and set them to the colour scheme of your favourite team.
Adding Text to Your Podcast Logo
Like every good graphic design app, there’s a good amount of fonts available within Canva.
With headings, sub-headings and paragraph text on offer, it’s pretty simple to find the right size of text you need.
The way Canva lists text is through examples. This doesn’t work quite as nicely as its list of illustrations or shapes. This is because it’s essentially just a wall of different texts blending into each other. It can kind of cause you a headache if you aren’t sure what text you’re after.
However, there is plenty here that’ll give you a satisfactory font for your cover art.
Uploading Your Own Images
If you’d like to include your own photo within your podcast cover art, Canva allows you to do this with ease.
You can upload images through the editor and quickly add all of the above functions to them.
This is handy if you’d like to feature a picture of yourself on your podcast artwork, or if you have a place or item you’d like to feature.
In many ways this means that if there aren’t stock images to satisfy your needs, you can still achieve your dream image.
Alongside the other functions within Canva, you can also edit your own images. You can reshape, re-align and resize your photos to move them in and around your image to suit your needs.
The last thing to mention about the editor on Canva, is its resizing ability, which is part of Canva For Work.
Whilst this isn’t unique to graphic design packages, Canva make things so easy by listing templates of various items.
This means you don’t need to surf the net to figure out the correct sizing you should have for an email header. It’s all listed here for you, with one click.
And with that, you should have everything you need to complete your podcast artwork. Canva makes it simple to create.
However, we’re going to keep exploring the site, to find out what else we can do on it.
With Canva For Work, the app has considered that you might need to update your brand or add new images.
Perhaps your podcast demands a blog and now you need images for that, which will mimic your podcast logo. Or maybe you’ve created social media pages for your Podcast.
Your brand is important. It’s what people view your podcast as. So if your subscribers know your podcast logo, you should try to keep your other graphics similar. You want the same colours and shapes if possible.
Canva’s Brand function allows you to create colour palettes and saved fonts. This means when you come to create a different kind of graphic, you can still use the same colours and fonts. Which is really great for keeping you on brand.
What is also cool is that, for a price, Canva allows you to print your own creations. You can select a batch of your podcast cover art, or logo, and have them shipped directly to your door. This works well if you want to create a business card for your podcast for reaching new listeners, or even sponsors. If that’s something you’re interested in, check out our guide on sponsorship to find out other ways you can approach potential sponsors.
School Of Design
As well as hosting a state of the art graphic design editor, and thousands of images you can use within it, Canva also teaches.
The company has spent a great deal of time creating its own learning materials for those seeking the basics through to more advanced methods and tasks to follow.
Canva’s Learn section of their site features tutorials. These are informative articles on how to use your account to get the most out of your project.
The tutorials are filled with examples and templates used within Canva. So you can read about how to select the perfect podcast logo, and then actually use the template on your own, for example.
As well as focusing on social media and using Canva, there’s guides and tutorials all about Photography. And for the teachers out there, there’s also guides on how to teach others all about how to use Canva.
What is perhaps most interesting about Canva’s Learn section is its Business module. This teaches you how to use Canva to grow your business, and by product, your brand.
This community of creative writers and advice really makes Canva stand out from the rest of the pack.
Canva have built themselves a fantastic asset for designer, both rookie and adept. Their site offers you the chance to jump in and create your podcast logo in a number of minutes.
And if you aren’t sure what it is you want, then there’s plenty of advice on hand. You can use its Learn section, and peruse the heavy number of images already stored for free on the site. There are even well priced $1 images you can purchase.
It’s a must have tool for your Podcast branding, so go test out the trial we mentioned earlier. We’re keen to see what you put together!
Alternatives to Canva
There are a few good Canva competitors now, worth checking out too. Such as:
- Design Wizard: They've got easy-to-use image & video editors, plus two video & images libraries – one premium, for top quality stuff, and one entirely free to use.
Looking for a Podcast Cover Art Designer?
After all this, if you just can't get the hang of it, or you simply don't have the time, then it might be best to hire a professional podcast logo designer. Here are some options for you.
Our two Fiverr links are affiliates, so we'd earn earn a small commission if you buy from them. But we have used these designers ourselves and were very impressed by their service and work!
- Our own Custom Podcast Artwork package – costs $195
- Fiverr designer melhak – prices start at $42
- Fiverr designer c7productions – prices start from $84
Next Steps: Looking Beyond Podcast Artwork
There are various ways to make use of your podcast logo, beyond simply setting it as your cover art. For example, you might want to look into doing audiograms for your show, or running some advertising.
And we can help you to grow your show and stay on-track through The Podcast Host Academy. That's where you'll find our courses on things like promotion and monetisation, as well as our weekly live Q&A sessions. It'd be great to work with you in there!