A lot of people get these two pieces of art mixed up which is totally understandable. To make it crystal clear, let’s use an analogy.
Don’t judge a book by its cover… well, for the most part.
When you write a book, you need to have the cover designed by a professional. This is how people will easily pick out the book from other works in the genre.
The book cover also gives clues to the content of the book and its personality (whether you’d like to admit it or not). Casual or technical. Fanciful or practical. Light-hearted or serious. You can pick out different design elements of a book’s cover to get a glimpse of what you’ll find inside.
The same goes for podcast cover art.
Cover art should be about giving the listener a peek into what they can expect from the show. By using color, line, and texture, you give your podcast cover art a personality.
Remember: Cover art is NOT focused on your company. It needs to spotlight the contents of your show.
Continuing with the book analogy, a logo would be similar to the author’s name. It’s not (normally) the focus of attention on a book cover.
In regards to podcasts, your company’s logo is just a small part of the overall cover art. Unless you’re Joe Rogan, you’re going to hinder the success of your show by making your logo the priority.
Take these Sweet Fish collective shows for instance:
Glad we got that straight!
Now let’s get into the good stuff.
1. Determine your cover art’s purpose
We usually avoid using Gen Z slang at all costs, but there is one phrase that we find really nifty:
Think of your show’s cover art as the vibe of the entire operation. What energy is it putting out? Will your podcast be silly or sweet? Slimy or stale?
“You want your show’s content to match the same aesthetic as its cover art.”
As people search for new shows in their favorite podcast player, they will be vibe checking the snot out of each result they scroll past. You’ve got to decide what your podcast’s vibe is going to be.
For example, we knew we wanted to avoid what Kelsie calls “the suit vibe” at all costs for The B2B Sales Show cover art.
The contents of The B2B Sales Show are fresh, insightful, punchy, lively, and downright actionable. We wanted the cover art to reflect those adjectives and to stray away from the typical businesspeople-in-suits-shaking-hands vibe (ew).
2. Create a mood board
So, you’ve got your cover art vibe (its purpose) in check. Now you’ll want to get a mood board started.
Cover art inspo
When you’re searching for inspiration for your cover art, Kelsie urges designers to stay away from looking at other shows’ cover art (at least for right now).
You want something original, something that makes people stop in their tracks.
We suggest taking a peek at Dribbble or Pinterest for some design inspo. Capture elements that — sorry, but I’m gonna use it again — vibe with the personality of your show.
Think about the types of…
that flow with the aesthetic of your podcast.
A design perimeter
Once you grab all the elements that will make up your show’s cover art, throw ‘em together in a document or mood board app. Make sure they’re easily accessible for future reference.
Your mood board now represents a sort of fence or perimeter around the ingredients you can use for the cover art and other deliverables along the way. This really helps you solidify the identity of the podcast.
Find a different shade of orange you think is cool? Hold it up against the mood board. If it fits, it sits. If it doesn’t, it… doesn’t.
Take our mood board for The B2B Sales Show, for instance:
3. Understand cover art dimensions
When designing podcast cover art, it’s crucial to keep the proper dimensions in mind. The art will be popping up in numerous formats on lots of different platforms.
Podcast cover art dimensions
Podcast players will give you a range of dimensions normally around 2,000×2,000 px. However, in order for your show to be included in featured lists, your podcast cover art needs to be no less than 3,000×3,000 px of quality.
That means nothing fuzzy or pixelated.
Your podcast’s cover art is going to be showing up across multiple platforms. In order to ensure its responsiveness, ya gotta get that 3,000×3,000 px.
This way, your art can fill up an entire desktop screen without losing its quality. It can also be shrunk down to 50×50 px for mobile while still being recognizable.
Also to secure recognizability, use a dope background.
4. Choose a vibrant background
The background of your cover art gives another clue to what the listener can expect from your show.
When you’re contemplating a background color, keep these tips in mind:
You want the scroller to stop at your podcast in a list of results. It should jump out to the eye.
There needs to be a strong contrast between the font color and background so it’s easy to read. (Keep visually impaired folks top of mind.)
When the art is being displayed at 50×50 px, it’s going to be nearly impossible to read no matter what. That’s where a vibrant background can help to identify your show.
Do NOT use a white background unless there’s a *really* good reason for it.
Next, let’s go over how to make the copy in your cover art *ahem* vibe with the background.
5. Limit the copy + content
PSA: Stop cramming crap into your podcast cover art!
When you’re trying to decide whether or not to include a logo or copy in the cover art, ask yourself if it adds to your message or dilutes it.
Cover art copy
At this point, I’d like to refer to one of my favorite acronyms:
KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid
If it’s not the name of the podcast or maybe a short tagline, it’s probably going to be okay to leave out.
Another thing: Don’t go naming your show after your company. Even though Sweet Fish is a pretty kick-ass name, who’s going to seek out and listen to The Sweet Fish Show? Exactly. So, our shows are named after our ideal buyers and the industries they’re in — stuff people are actually interested in.
Logos in the cover art
Having more than one logo in your podcast cover art is going to dilute your message. Use the show notes or the episode credits to plug any other entities who helped produce it.
“More than one logo is overwhelming.”
While the logo adds credibility to the cover art, it should by no means be the center of attention. Your show’s name is the focus here.
By now, you should have your podcast’s cover art pretty much set. But, if you’re doing your marketing right, the cover art should be just the beginning.
Pro tip: Check out cover art for other shows in your genre. Make sure your podcast can easily be differentiated from others.
There are endless opportunities to repurpose your podcast’s content. We’re literally finding new ways almost every day.
The way we see it, our shows are pillar pieces of content. From those pillars sprout other valuable deliverables such as…
Blog articles (like this one)
All of these by-products should harmonize with your show’s identity and cover art. Therefore, a style guide is crucial.
“Once you start producing valuable content and you’re consistent with your deliverables, you figure out what your audience prefers and what’s successful for you.”
These extra deliverables give you the space to get more granular with your messaging while still vibing (there we go again) with the show’s personality. You have the chance to be specific according to the channel and the targeted audience.
Here are some of our podcast by-products for reference:
Your podcast’s style guide
Your style guide should include details around…
Remember that mood board you made? It could really come in handy here.
Cover art evolution
If you have an ongoing podcast, don’t be afraid to refresh the look every once in a while.
Obviously, don’t be changing up the look like a teenage girl changing her profile pic. You want people to recognize you, after all.
Nonetheless, give your podcast cover art room to evolve. Too many elements in the art can make it difficult to update without confusing people.
We’re not judgey… but kind of
There’s no getting around it: People judge books by their covers and podcasts by their cover art. 🤷
To design powerful cover art…
Determine the purpose of your show’s cover art. What vibe are you putting out there?
Keep the content and copy to a minimum.
Make sure it’s recognizable at any size and different from other shows’ cover art.
Let it inspire the design of your other deliverables.
For more on #HowToPodcast, subscribe to B2B Growth on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. (You’ll know it by the kick-ass cover art.)