The 3 Things that Enable Great Brands to Make Great Podcasts

The same qualities that inspire great content also drive business success.

By Je-Anne Berry, Head of Branded Podcasts, Pineapple Street Studios

December 9, 2020
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Brands of every size and sector are looking to develop podcasts these days, and with good reason – by the end of 2020, over 100 million Americans will be podcast listeners1. This presents a huge opportunity for brands to  deepen fan engagement and reach new audiences, but not everyone knows what makes good content. Creating a podcast that appeals to the right audience and converts them into loyal listeners can be daunting at the outset. But at Pineapple Street Studios, we help brands adapt their brand strategy for podcast development, because the same qualities that make a brand great are also the foundation for a great podcast.

All great brands are passionate about serving their audience. They’re invested in getting to know their current and potential customers – assessing their needs, identifying gaps in the market, and developing products and services for them. That same ethos makes for a great podcast. Think about your audience—what interests and excites them? How do they engage with content? Thinking about your customers’ passions in addition to your brand’s is essential.  Consider Nike’s podcast “Trained.” As a company, Nike is obviously committed to fitness and wellbeing. But that’s an incredibly wide category – to narrow their scope, Nike focused on meeting a specific area where their customers needed help: forming healthy habits. That informed the cadence and style of “Trained,” a podcast that’s all about helping listeners work at wellness consistently throughout their lives.

It’s equally important for brands and podcasts to be curious. Curiosity drives creativity, and creative new ideas bring people back for more. So instead of focusing solely on your brand’s most central interest and expertise, consider adjacent communities and experts and how they might contribute to what you do. We’ve found the best, most innovative brands often do this, sometimes looking far outside their own industries to draw inspiration. That same idea translates directly to podcasting. Morgan Stanley has done this very effectively with the “Morgan Stanley Ideas Podcast.” Through the lens of finance, they’re able to explore a wide range of topics, from the future of retail to professional video gaming. Looking beyond their obvious purview enabled them to make the most engaging content possible for their listeners. It also elevates their content from copy to concept. A poorly conceived podcast can feel like an ad, but a curious program has real authenticity. And by sharing their platform with people beyond their team, they reach an even wider audience.

Lastly, great brands and great podcasts are always informed by values. The best storytellers, no matter the medium, bring their own point of a view and a unique way of engaging with the world that inspires others. This is especially important at a time when so many brands are working to show up for their customers and become more intentional about the causes they support, the stories they tell, and the voices they uplift. A podcast can put your brand values front and center and shed light on the issues that are most important to you and your customers. At a time when connection is vital, this lets your consumers know that you see and hear them — and it’s why branded podcasts that focus on a specific story or issue are far more effective than those that focus on a product. Podcast listeners are discerning, and more often than not, they won’t keep listening to a podcast that feels like an extended commercial for your product. Ben & Jerry’s, for example, recently launched “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America,” an excellent example of a values-driven podcast. By going beyond their product, they were able to articulate their beliefs and be present for their customers.

If a brand is passionate about the people it serves, embraces curiosity, and acts on its values, they’ve already mustered all the qualities of a great podcast and great business. It still takes time, creativity, and understanding of the podcast industry to really act on these principles, and when done right, a great podcast is well worth the extra work. You’ll drive engagement, loyalty, and, perhaps most importantly, create an entirely new, far more intimate relationship with your audience.  At Pineapple, this work is what we do. We’ve helped flagship brands across categories translate the brand strategy that brought them success in their native industry to the ever-growing podcast industry. We hope we can help you discover new ways to share your passion, curiosity, and values with your customers.

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[1] https://www.iab.com/insights/iab-u-s-podcast-advertising-revenue-study-fy-2019-2020-covid-19-impact/

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