All About Podcast Artwork and Branding with Podcast Design Specialist Mark Des Cotes


“I’ve helped over 200 podcasts with their cover art, websites, and social media. I figure ‘podcast branding expert’ is a good title.” -Mark Des Cotes Click To Tweet

Today’s Episode:

Mark Des Cotes is a podcast design specialist and the owner of Podcast Branding. He’s an award-winning graphic designer with over 30 years in the design industry. He designs for both print and web. He started podcasting in 2013 doing television fan podcasts. He launched his Resourceful Designer podcast in 2015. It’s a weekly podcast that helps graphic and web designers start and run their own design business. 

“The artwork and the description is what will capture people. The better your artwork, the better your chances are that your show will get picked over the other ones in the search results.” -Mark Des Cotes Click To Tweet

Mark has worked with over 200 podcasters to enhance their show’s appearance and help them stand out among the growing sea of podcasts through his professional designs. He designs podcast websites, cover artwork, and more. Mark is also the graphic designer that we use as part of our team here at Pro Podcast Solutions. He and I were both at Podfest Orlando a couple of weeks ago. 

During this face-to-face sit down we talk about what podcast branding is, what makes great cover art, common mistakes people make and more. We also tackle the question of whether you should put your photo on the cover, looking at the camera, and who should actually have a microphone on their cover art. Mark also shares advice to create a cohesive brand for all of your platforms. 

Mark’s passion for design and podcast branding really shine through in this interview. He shares how even moving a design element a couple of pixels makes a difference. He strives for perfection and making everything look right. He also shares the elements of cohesive branding. We talk about having a color palette to make your brand easily identifiable across platforms. 

Mark shares the difference between a logo and cover art and why both are so important. We also talk about social media. Why it’s important to simplify and mistakes beginners often make. We also discuss why a professional design across all of your platforms can complete your brand and make you stand out. 

“I insist on having a video chat with every client, because I want to know the client’s personality. I want to find out who this person is because then it helps me design for them.” -Mark Des Cotes Click To Tweet

Show Notes:

  • [02:50] This is our fourth or fifth time meeting in person. We’ve become really good friends over the years.
  • [03:01] Mark owns a business called Podcast Branding and we’ll be discussing podcast artwork, branding and more. 
  • [03:47] Mark wanted to go into television advertising. He never intended to become a graphic designer. 
  • [04:54] In high school, he won the equivalent of a college scholarship for one year. His guidance counselor suggested he go to graphic design school. He tried it for a year and decided to finish the program. He hasn’t looked back since.
  • [06:06] He discovered podcasting in 2012 and got into it in 2013. Our mutual friend, Wayne Henderson, had the worst podcast art Mark had ever seen. Mark designed something for Wayne and then Wayne started spreading the word. 
  • [08:48] Mark also worked for a commercial printer and then dabbled in web design. 
  • [09:36] Mark started a web design business at home. 
  • [11:57] Be honest with your current employer and make sure your contract doesn’t forbid side work.
  • [15:03] Mark wanted to be the podcast branding expert. He has a video chat with every client. 
  • [17:38] He never would have designed Melissa Radke’s artwork the way it is without talking to her first. 
  • [19:14] The first thing most people see is the podcast cover when they are looking for podcasts. If they like the cover, then they’ll read the description.
  • [21:17] Your artwork needs to be simple. Taking something away from a design will always make it cleaner. Overcomplicated artwork becomes amateurish. All you need on your podcast cover is the title of your show and possibly your name.
  • [22:08] You can put your tagline in the description.
  • [22:37] Your text needs to be readable on a small piece of artwork. Also, keep it down to one or two fonts. Don’t overcomplicate it.
  • [23:41] Microphones and headphones should only be included if your podcast is about microphones in headphones. The word podcast also doesn’t need to be on your cover. 
  • [24:31] The word show sounds more professional.
  • [25:00] When it comes to using your photo ask if you are recognized in your space or if you are trying to build a personal brand. 
  • [29:21] You have to be comfortable to have your image on your podcast cover.
  • [30:50] Think about how your target audience is going to perceive your artwork.
  • [34:43] Make sure your text is readable in a 125 X 125 pixel image.
  • [35:53] Podcast logos and artwork are two different things. Have a logo and include it on your artwork. Think of an album cover. The band name is the logo. 
  • [37:24] Carry over your branding to your social media accounts. Have a separate account for your podcast unless you are using it to create a personal brand. You can also rotate through your color pallet. 
  • [44:21] A brand encompasses every touchpoint of your design system. 
  • [46:47] Many of us have skills, but it’s better to hire a true professional. 
  • [51:49] Mark shares things that he has noticed that differ between the US and Canada. Hint: it has to do with restaurants and manners. 
  • [54:35] He is a huge fan of fantasy books and science fiction. He loves The Expanse book series. He is also a fan of Building a StoryBrand
  • [57:43] Darrell’s takeaways: Mark gave a presentation about this very topic at Podfest. Your art is the first impression people get. They often use it to decide if they want to listen or not. Great cover art can get your show chosen above others. Make sure it looks good at 125 pixels. Think through using your own photo. Have a color palette and podcast logo to reinforce your brand across all venues. 


Links and Resources: