We start all our new collaborations asking, ‘Why do you want to make a podcast?’ Sometimes the answer is “because we love listening to podcasts,” or “because our competition has one.” All good answers. But getting a really specific answer for the ‘why’ question is one of the best ways to land on the right podcast for the job at hand.
In brand storytelling, like any content creation, you have all kinds of platforms. You can be on YouTube or post on LinkedIn, put on stage a live event in Times Square or write a think piece for a publication.Those are narrative tools that will all work hard for you in different ways. That’s why we often reframe the ‘why?’ question like this: What’s the job a podcast can do for you?
But there are two sides to that question. The first thing to consider is what podcasts are good at — conveying emotion, and immersing listeners in storytelling. The second is what feeling or experience you want to create in your audience. In that whole palette of platforms that you have to tell a story, where is there opportunity to create something unique?
You can read some of our previous blogs to learn why Rocket Mortgage, Atlassian and Charles Schwab all decided to start a podcast (or several). If you get a chance to listen, you’ll hear how the resulting podcasts match up to the reasons why these three brands decided to jump into audio storytelling.
One brand, three different jobs
But let’s try a different kind of case study– this time we’ll look at one brand, with three different reasons for making a podcast, and we’ll see how that results in some very different shows.
Meet our imaginary brand partner, WidgetCo International Ltd. Inc. It’s a company that makes products for every industry imaginable, and their product is known for quality and dependability. They care about design. They care about safety. Their products save lives, and have for generations. They also live by ESG principles that respect the environment, the people who work at the company, and the communities where they operate.
We know a bit about what the company does, and what it cares about. But we don’t know the answer to why it wants a podcast. Here are three potential answers, along with a show they might make to get the job done.
The Why: Version #1
Widgets are basically invisible inside of other products. Consumers around the world use items made with WidgetCo’s innovative widgetty awesomeness, but the average person might not know that these bits even exist. The job here is to increase awareness of widget design and how that helps the world run better.
One Podcast For the Job
In this case, WidgetCo might want to get really creative with stories of design. They could create a show inspired by “Everything is Alive,” each episode featuring a biography of the unseen, “small” bits of design genius that have had the biggest impact on our lives. They could bring to light (and life!) all the unseen springs or bolts or levers that changed everything from cars to surgery to green energy production. The audience is top of funnel fun for fans of history and design, but this show specifically appeals as a B2B podcast for decision-makers in industry. The impact on audiences? Without actually talking about widgets, this show makes inspiring heroes of little things with big stories to tell.
The Why: Version #2
The need for widgets is skyrocketing, and the market has been flooded with unproven fast-widget start ups. They offer flashy salaries and perks, but the industry is now getting a reputation as a place where employee turnover and burnout is rampant. WidgetCo has never operated that way, and wants to be known as a great place to work as well as a great place to make widgets. The job here is inspiring next generation talent, and making people feel like widget-making is still a field where you can have a positive impact.
One Podcast For the Job
WidgetCo might consider a show that is a love letter to the “OOO.” It features some of the world’s most successful CEO’s, innovators, designers, artists and craftspeople revealing what they do when they are not at work — and how that fuels their creativity, drive and balance when they are at work. This show could draw inspiration from a NYT-style feature like “How a (insert fabulous person’s job) Spends Their Sundays” to give you a vicarious and inspiring inside look at how those who work hard, also play hard. The audience for this show are new design and engineering grads looking for a career with impact, as well as fans of shows that uncover what makes the most successful people tick, such as “How I Built This with Guy Raz”.
The impact on audiences? Work can be creative and fulfilling, even in the most demanding widget-adjacent jobs.
The Why: Version #3
WidgetCo’s 125th anniversary is coming up. They’ve been innovating and driving the industry for generations, but because of that legacy, they’re often seen as a bit old school, associated more with the past of widget-making than its future. The job here is showing that widgetry is as important as ever.
One Podcast For the Job
Possible podcast for this job? A serialized reality show about the quest by WidgetCo’s elite design team to build a car that wins the LeMans Hypercar series in 2024, competing against Ferrari, Peugeot and countless other automotive legends. This series follows the ups and downs of the little team of widgeteers as they try to make their mark on the sexy, scary and scandalously fast racing scene.
The audience for this show is anyone who loves a high-stakes underdog story, automotive nerds, and countless racing fans who will embrace the retro-cool Team WidgetCo as their own.
The impact on audiences? Surprise and storytelling delight with a high-stakes plot in an unexpectedly spicy setting, causing them to think again about a perception they might have had about widget-makers.
These show ideas are just thought starters of course, and totally hypothetical. But hopefully you can now see how different shows can do different jobs, answering the question, “why make a podcast?”
These are all fun models to think about when trying to imagine what job you want your podcast to do, and what kind of show can do that specific task. Whether you are making a podcast as a brand, or as a passion project, the why will be equally important.
It’s a powerful question — how would you answer it?
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