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Branded Podcasts: How and Why?

Emerging research shows that podcast listeners are dedicated, highly active on social media, and 80% of all podcast listeners listen to all or most of every episode.

Podcasts have been around since the late 90’s, but it wasn’t until Apple introduced the podcast app for iOS that things really started to take off. Shortly after, This American Life launched the podcast that started it all, Serial, an investigate podcast hosted by journalist and radio personality, Sarah Koenig. Since 2014, Serial has been downloaded over 250 million times and produced two additional seasons. 14 hours after the first two episodes of season 3 were released, they had already been downloaded 1.4 million times. This rise in popularity has not gone unnoticed by businesses and organizations looking to capitalize on the new medium. Here’s some things to think about if a client is looking to start a podcast.


Just because it’s audio, doesn’t make it a podcast.


Recording townhalls or keynote speeches can be a great way to make information more accessible – but it’s not a podcast. Podcasts are predominantly narrative-driven, personal, and entertaining. Branded podcasts shouldn’t be any different. Look at shows like Girl Boss Radio and Sephora’s #LIPSTORIES, or Blue Apron and Gimlet Media’s Why We Eat What We Eat. Both shows place narrative at the forefront, while explicit branding takes a backseat.


Girl Boss Radio is hosted by Sophia Amoruso, Founder and CEO of the brand NastyGal. The weekly podcast features conversations with powerful, trailblazing women. #LIPSTORIES follows a very similar format. Sephora’s vision is to inspire people to be bold in their choices – both in beauty and in life. Listeners tune in to hear female thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and creators share their own bold and inspiring stories.


Why We Eat What We Eat, joins the ranks of the ever popular “Edutainment” genre. Hosted by food writer and author, Cathy Erway, Why We Eat What We Eat dives into the psychology of our eating choices, our obsession with kale, and breaks down the pros and cons of cooking in a flat-bottomed wok. Blue Apron was one of the first companies to recognize the advertising potential of podcasts, but with Why We Eat What We Eat they have now moved from an avid podcast sponsor to creator.

Not a fan of female trailblazers or delicious food? Unlikely, but you can check out ZipRecruitor’s Rise and Grind hosted by Shark Tank investor,

Daymond John. There’s also Panoply and GE Motor’s LifeAfter, a science fiction podcast about death, technology, and a low-level FBI employee named Ross. I highly recommend it. Just like TV and Film, people listen to podcasts to be entertained.


Brands can increase visibility in a whole new way


Through podcasting, brands can increase visibility in a whole new way. Branded podcasts shouldn’t sound like an ad, they should serve as a driver of an organization’s purpose and vision. Research shows that podcast listeners are loyal. Many people listen to podcasts more than they watch TV, and 49% listen alone without distractions. These conditions help foster what feels like a personal relationship between the listener and the host. If utilized correctly, they can also foster a personal relationship between the listener and the brand.


Great sources for podcasts


If you have an iOS device, you may already have Apple Podcasts. If not, you can download it for free on the app store. If you have an android or just want to try a different platform, check out Spotify or Stitcher.

Bild-Credits: under CC0 licence by Richstar via