It’s a fact that cover art drives audience choice. Yet while the legacy of album covers fanfare endures and book jacket design undergoes a boom, the poor podcast lays, ever-unbranded. Koto’s fun and multi platform-resilient rebrand for entrepreneurial podcast Young People Doing Things (now just People Doing Things) is here to change all that.
“The primary driver for a lack of brand in podcasts is economic in our opinion,” explains James Greenfield, Koto’s founder. “People don’t see the value in spending the time and money to make evolved brands. But it’s quite ironic as podcast discovery is hard and there’s a lot to choose from.” Design lead Issey Conway concurs: “It’s a worthy investment, especially when you look at the way platforms like Netflix have used the science of cover art to drive viewer choice.”
With podcasts becoming more real world facing and community-driven post pandemic, there has never been a better time to evaluate what a podcast identity could be. Brands will need more than a square cover artwork to compete within the burgeoning scene going forward. For People Doing Things for example, Koto has welcomed in a whole range of merchandise and badges to bridge the physical and digital. As such, they also bring branding to another part of the project, its community.
“Our main aim when creating this brand was to put the community at the forefront,” says James. In People Doing Things – the podcast is about emerging founders offering advice to aspiring business owners – the idea of connection is displayed visually, through illustrative icons. Turning to in-house illustrator Shin Hye Lee, Koto suggests the “domino effect” of good advice with interlocking symbols, also used as podcast tiles. A comb, an apple, a suitcase, a dancing human: they all pop up intermittently across the podcast’s various platforms – reminding us ever so slightly of the naive warmth of The Very Hungry Caterpillar with each appearance.
As for these multiple platforms, the requirement for today’s podcasts to live across a web of online sites and apps poses another design challenge. But it’s something Koto leans into; in fact, People Doing Things works in conjunction with Spotify and Instagram features. Issey states: “We thought it was interesting with Instagram features – creating space within our system to insert links to the podcast. No one has really done that before – especially not in the podcast world.” With most People Doing Things listeners coming through Spotify, Koto also designed the episode art to feature a visual link, so one episode flows to the next. “It’s a small detail, but we hope it encourages people to think about the podcast as an ongoing story, through the use of a visual mechanic,” says James.
Meanwhile, one of our favourite parts of the work, a new type by Schick Toikka is bold, providing a much-needed marker to stop audiences scrolling and start them listening. “We also chose a logo type approach that felt like a cast of characters.” The use of a multi-coloured palette combined with these characters is all about implying a feeling of diverse storytelling and humanity, which, after all, is what People Doing Things is all about.
GalleryKoto: People Doing Things (Copyright © Koto, 2022)
Koto: People Doing Things (Copyright © Koto, 2022)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.