Estimated read time: 8 minutes
Picking a podcast name can be a challenge and typically requires collaboration among co-workers, keyword research and understanding of the brand and goals. A few top-level things to keep in mind when picking a name:
- Keywords – what terms are people searching for?
- Availability – is somebody else already using the name?
- Memorability – can listeners remember your name?
- Voice commands – how easy is it for Siri or Alexa to find your podcast when somebody asks for it?
To dive into the topic even more, I asked some top podcast experts to find out how they went about naming podcasts. Lots of nuggets of knowledge in here for you to consider the next time or first time you’ll launch a podcast.
Brainstorming to pick a podcast name
Helene Pawlitzki, who runs the podcasting program at the German newspaper Rheinische Post, reiterated the importance of collaboration.
“The names of our podcasts usually come from brainstorming in a group in the newsroom. With each of the podcasts, whenever we were confident about the concept, we would sit down shortly before launch and think about names. Sometimes we’d ask all our co-workers to send us their ideas and mill them around in a smaller group. Here are some criteria that repeatedly came up in the discussion:
- Name should be clever and original
- Name should not be taken by anything else
- Name should reflect the concept of the podcast
- Name should be easily understood, easy to remember and easy to say out loud
- No terrible puns
“Our Düsseldorf podcast is called Rheinpegel [as in how high the Rhine River water is] because as my colleague Arne remarked, how much water there is in the Rhine is a topic that anybody from Düsseldorf can always discuss at any time; it’s like the weather. So in each episode, we start by saying ‘You’re listening to episode #xy and the Rhine is at xy meters.’”
Amanda Milligan, host of Cashing in on Content Marketing, took a similar collaborative approach and asked all employees for ideas:
“We explained the objective of the show companywide — to help content marketers determine the ROI of their work and communicate that value to stakeholders — and that we wanted the title to capture that while still being short and catchy.
Be clear and on brand
“I am a firm believer in making the title self-evident (e.g., my podcast is about digital policy and enabling organizations, so The Power of Digital Policy made sense) because there is no fame in mystery outside of fiction. In general, I think keeping the title brief, closer to 20 characters, is ideal. Simplicity also wins the game because you don’t want, or need, users to take too long thinking about the podcast subject; it should be self-evident!
“If you’re starting a podcast as an extension of your business or brand, it makes sense to keep things consistent. So that is a good starting point. I recommend not going crazy on keywords and placing more emphasis on creativity. Podcasts that go viral are easy to digest, and the name has a lot to do with that. Also, you want to be a bit unique. Remember that Apple removes podcasts that are stuffed with keywords. So there’s that ding if you go down the wrong path.”
“Doing some analysis helps figure out who is doing something similar to you in the industry, where there are gaps, and what are the topics about which people want to hear. You can research titles and keywords to hone in on differences, ensuring you are not overly similar to a competitor or drive their traffic instead of your own.
“I advise taking a look at patents and trademarks before you dive in deep with the title. Consider other countries where you might have an audience to ensure that you are optimizing your market and not infringing on someone’s protected intellectual property.
“One of the most fabulous tips of all that I received from a colleague years ago is to come up with a slew of taglines or names, print them out and tape them around your house. See which ones resonate with you a few days out, versus those that seem “blah” and those that annoy you. It is an easy way to have the idea set in and takes on a life of its own.
“See if you can say the name of your podcast four times in a row fast.
“Consider the tone of your podcast name, and what you want people to think, feel, do as a result. Yes, you want them to listen. But beyond that, what else? Tone matters.“
Jason Falls mentioned that it can be easier when a podcast becomes a brand extension.
“I struggled with this one and even named mine ‘The Jason Falls Show’ for a while. I hated it because it’s self-important and egotistical.
“But when we transformed the podcast to be an agent of the agency, it became easier.
“We have core tenets of our business of doing right by the brand, loving the challenge and digging deeper. We have posters with those sayings and their explanations all over the building. And our tagline (even trademarked) is “We make creativity your business advantage” so “Digging Deeper: Make Creativity Your Business Advantage” kind of became logical.”
How much energy should we put into coming up with a podcast name?
Nick Westergaard does remind us of the importance of the name:
”You should definitely overthink the name of your podcast! It’s a key piece of your show’s brand DNA and one that has implications for your feed, show notes, website, and potential sponsors.
“You want to be:
“Paint a picture of not only what your show is about but what the tone is.
“For example, I wanted to establish that my podcast was a talk show about branding.
“In mulling over branding phrases I thought of how much people talk about being “on brand.” This reminded me of NPR’s show On Point and also Stephen King’s book On Writing. From here, I added one other key structural piece to establish the tone. Most “talk shows” include a “with” and the hosts name so I added “with Nick Westergaard” to make it clear what the show was and to build by brand as a host. And that’s how “On Brand with Nick Westergaard” was born!“
Being found in your niche
Kennedy, of The Email Marketing Show, breaks down how they came up with their show’s name:
”If you type in Email Marketing, The Email Marketing Show comes up nicely. A lot of people forget that their show has to be easily found so it’s a good idea to include your keyword in your show name so when people are searching for a show on a particular topic, you are found.
Don’t forget about voice devices
Fred Faulkner, host of According to Fred, reminded me of the importance of voice devices.
For example, you can connect your podcast to Alexa devices and people can ask for it to be played.
On Siri, as long as your podcast is on Apple Podcasts you can simply ask her to play your show:
Can I change my podcast name?
If you don’t get the name right on the first try you can get another shot and change it down the road.
I simply went into my Anchor hosting account and updated the name – I cut “Christoph Trappe” before “Business Storytelling Podcast,” added another link and clicked save. It was updated on the major podcast platforms the next day. Of course, you may have to create new cover art when you change the name.