There's an old adage that every entrepreneur claims that they coined but that Jeff Bezos, he of space, is widely credited as saying first:
"Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room."
What do people say about your podcast when you're not in the room? What do they tell friends about your podcast and how, if you aren't in that proverbial room, can you have any influence over what they say?
By creating an experience.
Brand, at its core, is just that: the promise of an experience that becomes synonymous with a company, person, product, service or place.
Or a piece of media. Just like your podcast.
As podcasters, we become focussed consistently on our content. And rightly so: without great content we have nothing. But too often we create superb content and assume that's enough and that because we have put blood, sweat and tears into that content, people should come listen and if they don't, it's them that's the problem.
The hard truth, though, is that there's so much great content in the world right now that people can choose from and for us to shine and become the choice of content for our prospects, they have to know about us and feel like they're a part of what we do.
That can sound really odd to a podcaster like you or me because we know our content is great and we know that we don't have lots of time to put into anything else except our content. But in order to thrive as a podcaster, you have to focus on experience.
Consider any of your favourite movie, TV or literary franchises. They always have apathetic and passionate sides to their fandom.
Many people consume content that they love yet don't feel strongly enough about that "world" to vocalise their opinions but some, like the Star Wars or MCU fanbases, are often vocal about their love or hate of a certain decision, storyline, character or product delivered by their beloved franchises.
That passion is borne from brand: the promise of an experience and that passion overspills into noise which, in turn, attracts new fans or activates less vocal fans in becoming vocal.
Once a brand reaches that level, it unlocks new "powers". Advocacy becomes natural and word-of-mouth becomes a huge factor in new people discovering what that brand has to offer.
The more a brand delivers on its experiential promise, the more that flywheel spins and the bigger the brand grows.
You see it often in the startup world where, suddenly, a new app or platform springs into the mass market from seemingly nowhere but actually, that platform has gone through the early adopter phase (where it ironed out its brand and product/market fit) through to the curious user stage (where more curious users buy-in, but don't identify as early adopters) and beyond to the establishment and scaling stages (which is where many of us first discover a new brand).
Could we do the same for our podcast?
Could we, over time, devise and refine a brand promise that targets our niche audience so specifically that we build advocacy and growth through simply doing what we promised to do?
But producing content isn't enough. We have to be focussed on our brand but perhaps even more keenly, focussed on the experience that we want our brand to deliver for the long term.
What do we want people to say about our brand when we aren't in the room?
The challenge with brand-building is that you have to be so personally aligned to your brand that living it and embodying it doesn't feel forced - it has to feel natural and certainly not like a "job".
A great example of this is how we run https://www.captivate.fm (Captivate), our podcast hosting and growth platform.
Our brand experience is designed to be one that educates, supports and innovates and leads for our podcasters in a really inclusive way. If you look at the reviews that Captivate has or the reasons...