Podcasting is marketing. And companies have been using branded podcasts for a long time. But while many companies, big and small, have attempted using branded podcasts, not all of them have been equally successful.
In this post, I will handpick eight businesses and brands that have not just created branded podcasts but have used them smartly to drive focused business results. What I also will do is to focus on some aspects of these shows and how they have directly contributed to the brands’ business goals.
But before we jumped into the topic, let me clarify what branded podcasts are and why this topic matters to you now.
What are branded podcasts anyway?
A branded podcast is a podcast created by a brand or a business. These businesses could be startups, small and medium businesses, large companies, or non-profits.
The reason branded podcasts have grown in popularity over the years is because of several reasons. The biggest of them is the magnitude of impact they can have on the brand at a fraction of the marketing cost.
In the rest of this post, I will walk you through creative ways some of the world’s biggest brands, startups, and even non-tech brands have used branded podcasts.
1. Building Authority
Podcasts score very high when it comes to authority building. Unlike other forms of content, podcasts are very personal and offer an intimate experience. And it’s this intimate nature of podcasts that help create elevated states of engagement receptive to brand mentions.
And this is reflected in a study that BBC Global News carried out in late 2019. According to the BBC, branded podcasts lifts brand awareness by 89%, brand consideration by 57%, brand favorability by 24%, and purchase intent by 14%.
Let’s look at For The Record podcast by Spotify.
Until Spotify entered the podcasting space in 2019, it was Apple that was the single largest podcasting platform. But Spotify has slowly grown into becoming a contender to Apple Podcasts. The brand uses its new show For The Record to give its listeners “fresh insights on important topics of the moment” and bring together “experts in the music, podcast, and tech industries as we discover and uncover stories about our work and the world around us.”
2. Expand Audience Reach
Expanding audience reach and reaching newer segments of your audience is essential to any growing brand or business. Traditionally brands have spent their marketing dollars on running advertisements, white-hat SEO, partnerships, and such. But here’s a brand that used a branded podcast to expand reach. They were so successful that they decided to launch a second brand podcast.
Slack Variety Pack and Work In Progress by Slack.
Slack is not a new name in the podcasting world. They’ve invested their marketing dollars on podcast sponsorship for many years before deciding to start their own branded podcast.
Their target listeners were people in the software industry that worked in teams. The goal was to spread the brand organically by turning users into influencers. Did their strategy work?
The show garnered nearly 2 million listens over the first 15 episodes. You can do the math!
3. Stay Top of Mind
“A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.” – Daniel Kahneman
Every brand wants to stay on top of mind with their audience. No amount of money is going to get you all the attention. But why not get the attention of some of them, and stay on top of their mind?
That’s what Zendium, a popular toothpaste brand in the UK thought.
2 Minutes of Zen by Zendium
They decided to create a branded podcast about dental hygiene. No matter what, everyone has to spend 2 minutes brushing their teeth every morning. Why not use this time to connect with your audience?
The show gives you quick and simple wellness hacks you can do while you brush your teeth, for a healthy mind, body & mouth. They use leading health and wellness experts to guide you through everything from a strengthening squat workout to calming mindfulness practice, all to be done while you’re brushing your teeth.
4. Engage deeper
Who would say no to deeper audience engagement?
Brands have used various ways to start conversations and engage deeper with their customers. But how can branded podcasts do here?
Reddit is a brand that calls itself the front page of the internet. It’s a network of communities based on people’s interests.
If you’ve been on Reddit, you know how the website surfaces the trending conversations and categorizes them as best, hot, new, top, and such. They decided to take this one step further and bring in real people behind these conversations.
The Endless Thread by Reddit.
On the podcast, the hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson dig into the website’s vast and curious ecosystem of online communities, collaborating with Reddit’s 330 million users and over 140 thousand communities to find all kinds of jaw-dropping narratives.
Now you can listen to the show for deeper conversations with Reddit users.
5. Build trust
Trust is core to any brand and its relationship with customers. Trader Joe’s is a perfect example of a brand that has leveraged a branded podcast to build trust by opening a window into its operations.
Inside Trader Joe’s by Trader Joe’s.
On the podcast, the brand gives you an inside view of everything at Trader Joe’s. The company’s marketing director, Tara Miller, and VP of marketing products Matt Sloan host the podcast and give you a behind-the-scenes view by interacting with store managers, employees.
There is nothing better than authentic storytelling to connect with your customers. For example, on this show, Matt and Tara talk to a food tasting panel, workers inside Trader Joe’s to give you a sense of how everyone inside the company is coming together to deliver high-quality products during the pandemic.
6. Public Relations
A brand is as good as you think it is. No matter how hard you work on creating a business or a brand, the perception matters more. Every company invests in PR at some level. Some do it through social media, some others through content marketing, while those who can afford to use other forms of PR, including hiring an agency to do it for them.
The McDonald’s Sauce.
McDonald’s is a familiar name in the world of fast-food. In 2018, they re-introduced a “super-limited batch” of Szechuan sauce that they once introduced in 1998 as a promotion for the Disney film called Mulan. When the supply of sauce could not meet the demand, riots broke out at many McDonald’s outlets. The fast-food brand soon found itself drowned in negative PR.
They decided to introduce a limited 3-episode branded podcast called The Sauce. Very soon, the newspapers were talking about the podcast and not the riots.
7. Launch a new product
Product launches are something every business does. But, what do you do when your product has a cult following? Well, I’m not sure about you, but here’s Microsoft’s story.
It was 2015, and the time had come for the release of Halo 5: Guardians, an extremely popular multi-player video game with a cult following. This was the 9th in the series of games under the Halo franchise. Here’s what they did.
Hunt The Truth Campaign.
They launched Hunt the Truth or #HUNTtheTRUTH, a marketing campaign by the Ayzenberg Group hosted on the popular microblogging site Tumblr. They launched a part docu-diary and part audio archive that spanned 2 Seasons. The results?
The first season of Hunt the Truth won a Bronze Clio Award in 2015 in the Audio Drama category. It got over 6.7 Million views putting in the top 1% of all Apple (iTunes) podcasts. The series also received recognition on iTunes as one of the Best Podcasts of 2015, won a Shorty Award, amongst many other recognitions.
In the opening week, the game grossed more than $400 million, surpassing Halo 4‘s record of $300 million. By January 2016, Halo 5 sold 5+ million retail copies worldwide since its launch in October 2015.
8. Internal Communication
A company or business is as much about its employees as about the customers it serves. From onboarding new employees to retaining existing ones, branded podcasts can play a big role in a company’s internal communication.
The American Airlines story.
American Airlines launched its podcast Tell Me Why not too long ago when it learned from internal surveys that employees wanted to know more about corporate policies. Some employees wanted to know why some routes were added or cut. Others wanted to know why new uniforms were rumored to be making people sick, and why you can’t have an emotional support peacock on board.
Ron DeFeo, the company’s Vice President of Global Communications, hosts the show that releases two 5-10 minutes long episodes every month.
Begin With a Strategy
No matter what the nature of your business is, creating a branded podcast starts with a sound strategy. What are the objectives of your branded podcast? Who is it for, and what is the purpose behind creating it? These are the first questions we ask with any brand before starting an engagement.
Well-executed branded podcasts are not about just the podcast, but about everything from strategy to research to storytelling to distribution.