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NAMING Your PODCAST: Stand Out in a Single GLANCE!

Naming anything can feel overwhelming (okay, maybe it's just overwhelming to me). One of the toughest parameters to meet is what I call the "one-second test". You have one second before people scroll past it to the next thing. It's not a lot of time to convey your brand, what you do, and get their attention.


However, do not abandon hope for all is not lost. If you are launching a podcast, use the following suggestions to identify a name that captures the right audience quickly. If you have an existing show that is not receiving the attention you think it should, it is never too late to change the name.


Be Clear


If someone has to try to figure out what your show is about, they will move on (again, you get one-second). Cute or clever only work if you don't sacrifice clear. People won't get an inside joke. Usually they won't notice a play on words. Make it obvious. We fall into the trap of the curse of knowledge, where WE know what we mean, but that doesn't mean everyone else will. Let's try an example.


Which title is easier to understand at a glance: "Blooms and Buildings" or "The Urban Container Gardener"?


With "Blooms and Buildings", it is likely talking about flowers . . . or trees . . . or something. And "buildings" could mean anything. Maybe it discusses flower shops or landscaping nurseries--it's just not clear.


But, "The Urban Container Gardener" tells you exactly what it is about--container gardening in an urban setting. You understand this at a glance. If you want to learn about raised beds or English gardens, this show is not for you.


These are some other suggestions to help with podcast naming:


  • Don't use your name for your podcast.


First, you will be tied to that show for perpetuity (or at least until you change the name), so you can't have other people host. Second and even more significantly, your name doesn't tell me anything about the show. For example, if you saw "The Eric Rutherford Podcast" as you were scrolling, what would it tell you? Answer: nothing. It doesn't say anything about the topic nor about the audience. And since my name is not well-known, it has zero potential to attract listeners.


There are two exceptions to this rule. If you have had your podcast for 10+ years and have built a following, don't change the name of your show. Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan--they fall into this category. Second exception--if you have massive name recognition, use your name (Kim Kardashian, if you are reading this blog, this is you. And Kim, if you do read this blog, would you be opposed to writing a review for social proof? Please? 😁)


  • Use Normal Words in the Language You Speak on the Podcast


Unless you podcast is in Greek, don't use a Greek word (modern or classical) in the name. Same goes for Latin. You may think it makes it sound "smarter", but in reality it only makes it more confusing. Whatever language you speak in the show, make the title in the same language.


  • Make It Easy to Find (don't use weird spellings)


If someone only heard the name of your show (without seeing it spelled out) and tried to google it, could they find it on the first search? If not, it's too convoluted.


If a person sees the name of your show and they can't pronounce it, it's too convoluted.


One of my favorite examples comes from the movie, "That Thing You Do." It was released around 1996, but it takes place in the 1960's. It's the story of a fictional band who become one-hit wonders. They start out with the name The Oneders (pronounced "wonders").


They were trying to make a play on words like "The Beatles" did. One of the guys in the band says it looks like the O-Need-Ers. They get invited to play at a battle of the bands, and are introduced as "The O-Need-Ers" (because that's what it looks like). Soon, they hire a manager and the manager makes them change their name to The Wonders (because Oneders looks like O-Need-Ers).


Don't be the Oneders because no one would search for that spelling. Don't substitute letters to make it more "original". Don't make i's into y's or a's into ay's or make an e sound with ee or eee. Yes, it may sound cute or clever, but it's hard to find and it makes people think too hard when they see it. Again, you get one second. Make it count. It's better to be boring and clear than cute an undiscoverable.


  • Make Sure the Name is Not Already in Use


This does not automatically come to mind, but make sure the name is not already in use. If so, you can create something similar or start over completely. The main goal is to have something that is yours. While you are researching, also check to see if the URL is available and secure it.


  • Stand Out (be cheeky or memorable)


Clear and understandable are the primary criteria. However, it is possible to take it one step further and make it stand out.


If you are not familiar with Louis Grenier's "Everyone Hates Marketers" podcast, it is worth a listen. I was introduced to it last summer and listen to it regularly. It's "the only podcast for people sick of marketing BS". In fact, his podcast and daily newsletter have influenced how I think about positioning and influenced my own podcast's rebrand.


I had started my latest podcast as "Build That Podcast" back in December 2022. I published 37 episodes and then paused for a rebrand. The title was okay, but it didn't pass the one second test. I was not reaching my target market and it was not being found.


I renamed it "It's Marketing's Fault" with the tag line, "where we discuss how to marketing the right way." At a glance, you know what it's about. There is just a touch of insider information as well because if you have been a marketer at a company of any size, you know marketing is blamed for everything--lack of sales, lack of growth, not hitting numbers. This means you have heard the phrase "it's marketing's fault" spoken by people in sales, product management, at at the executive level.


Since the name change, I have had people reach out directly to me, asking to be on the show. This didn't happen before. Why? Previously, it wasn't clear what it was about.


  • Be willing to change it if it doesn't get the traction you want


It's easy to change the name of your podcast. Simply create new artwork and update the name in your podcast hosting software. You don't have to change the location or the RSS feed. When I changed mine, I included a note about the name change in the description.


This is what my description looks like today:



Now what?


Names set the tone for the show, but don't spend so much time working on a show name that you don't start. Spend some time, try it, and see how it goes. You can always change it later. We're not aiming for perfection, just taking the next right step.


What questions do you have about podcasting that you would like to see covered in future Podcast Prep editions?


Send them my way. I would gladly answer anything that you are wrestling with.

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