12 Simple Ideas for Designing Stunning and Unique Podcast Cover Art

Podcasting 6 min read

Podcast cover art is a highly significant contribution and possibly the most important first visual impression of a podcast. It’s the image that is first seen when a potential listener is browsing through their podcast apps or websites. To ensure your podcast cover art pops amid a very crowded field, check out these 12 ways to increase your show’s findability and consequently listens.

  1. Conduct Podcast Cover Art Research Within Your Podcast's Genre
  2. Consider Your Audience
  3. Find a Cover Art Visual Style That Fits Your Podcast's Tone
  4. Determine Your Podcast Title First
  5. Use Bold and Minimalistic Designs
  6. Use a Unique and Interesting Layout
  7. Don't Use Too Many Elements or Fonts
  8. Use Display Fonts Instead of Paragraph Fonts
  9. Select High Contrast Vibrant Colors and Text
  10. Preview Your Podcast Cover Art On the Device It Will Be Seen On
  11. Adhere to Apple Podcast Cover Art Specifications
  12. Tools and Resources

Conduct Podcast Cover Art Research Within Your Podcast's Genre

Glasses notebook and laptop
Photographer: Dan Dimmock | Source: Unsplash

It's important to do research about what the cover art looks like for other podcasts in your genre.

For example, if you’re doing a podcast on entrepreneurship, check out the covers of other entrepreneurship podcasts in your niche. The idea is not to copy, but to get inspiration and a feel for how you could add something unique that stands out in the crowd. So fire up a browser, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or a podcast research tool like PodChaser to investigate and bookmark podcast cover art in your niche.

Consider Your Audience

Cheering crowd at rugby world cup 2019
Photographer: Stefan Lehner | Source: Unsplash

Before you design anything, you need to think about the people you’re creating your podcast for.

This is a very important step in the process because it will help your audience immediately understand the tone of your podcast. Remember, if there’s nothing else to go on, people make decisions whether or not to listen to your podcast within the first 10 seconds of seeing your show art, so it’s important that it connects with your audience right away.

Find a Cover Art Visual Style That Fits Your Podcast's Tone and Message

Orange Style lettering on a vintage plastic board
Photographer: Marcus Ganahl | Source: Unsplash

When it comes to choosing artwork, it’s important to make sure that it fits in with your podcast’s overall tone. This is somewhat open to interpretation, but here are some examples:

  • If you’re a comedy podcast, you might want to go with a more vibrant and full-colour design, while a darker podcast might benefit from a black-and-white design.
  • A show dedicated to breaking news in the tech world might have pretty serious podcast cover art. But if you have a podcast that is more entertaining, then you can have a cover art that is more funny or lighthearted.

Determine Your Podcast Title First

Photographer: CHUTTERSNAP | Source: Unsplash

It helps to be sure of your podcast title before starting the visual design, for inspiration, for certain keywords, or even just bold individual letters that might be incorporated on your cover art.

Resist the urge to add your entire podcast title on the icon, unless it is only one or two words long

You do not need to add the entire text of your podcast title on the icon, since that title will already appear next to your image on Apple Podcasts and all other players.

Use Bold and Minimalistic Designs

An example of minimalistic podcast cover art
Photographer: davisuko | Source: Unsplash

Icons are small, and the busier your design is, the more lost it will get as a small icon on various size screens.

Using a bold minimalistic design is usually more visually impactful.

Use a Unique and Interesting Layout

Using unique layouts
Photographer: Kirill Balobanov | Source: Unsplash

Try to be different. For example, if everyone else in your niche features a frontal view of your host’s face, go for a profile layout. Here are some design considerations:

  • Use the “rule of thirds” to position design elements in harmony with each other.
  • If you are hiring designers, challenge them to offer you multiple unconventional layout choices.
  • Place elements near the margins.
  • Use lots of “white space” to distance elements from each other.

Don't Use Too Many Elements or Fonts

An example of too many elements for podcast cover art design
Photographer: Alexander Smagin | Source: Unsplash

If you must use text on your cover art design, keep your choice of typefaces to one single font, or 2 maximum. Too many design elements, shapes or colors on your cover art will make it look busy, and this will be difficult to grasp at a glance.

Avoid what we in the UX (User Experience) world call “excessive cognitive load”.

A person will glance at your design for only a fraction of a second next to other podcast icons, so don’t be cute, stay simple, straight-forward and err on the side of being obvious with your design. An easy to understand podcast cover art design is preferable to one that has esoteric references few people would get. Avoid mystery unless it really servers your design.

Use Display Fonts Instead of Paragraph Fonts

Fonts matter in podcast icon design
Photographer: Jeroen den Otter | Source: Unsplash

Learn the difference between display fonts and paragraph fonts. If you are hiring or collaborating with a good designer, this will not be an issue, but if you are creating a design yourself, use display fonts. And, please stay away from the dreaded “Comic Book Sans” typeface (sorry, that’s a design industry joke).

Select High Contrast Vibrant Colors and Text

Vibrant color example
Photographer: Malena Gonzalez Serena | Source: Unsplash

It is tempting to create “elegant” or “subtle” podcast cover art.

But this seldom stands out when seen next to many other podcast icon designs. It is hard to overestimate the importance of bright saturated colors, high contrast cover art and text.

An additional resource on color selection:

Color usage for podcast cover art and icons
Click to read our post on color choices for podcast cover art

In this previous post, we’ve written extensively on color selection and psychology of podcast cover art color choices.

Preview Your Podcast Cover Art On the Device It Will Be Seen On

Our own podcast cover art design
A preview of our own “Podcasting Resources Guide” podcast cover art design

After designing and advising 100’s of podcasters in creating their show’s icon, the single most important advice is this:

Be sure to actually preview your cover art on the device and inside the app where the podcast will appear.

You want to see your podcast icon alongside all the other shows in your niche. Fortunately, there is a brilliant free tool designed to help you preview, called Podcast Cover Preview. With this tool, you can preview your podcast cover size on the top podcast apps your podcast can appear on. You can verify your podcast artwork size on different podcast apps.

So — compare your design to all the other podcasts out there, and see how your idea stacks up. This is the perfect tool to help you do it.

Adhere to Apple Podcast Cover Art Specifications

Apple Podcasts has specified technical requirements for Cover Art that you must meet to be accepted and they also include practices you could work around to help design your podcast .

Technical Specifications:

  • Size: square; minimum 1400 x 1400 pixels and maximum 3000 x 3000 pixels (preferred) Resolution: 72 dpi
  • File type: JPEG or PNG
  • Colorspace: RGB

Additional Requirements:

Artwork must be original and can't contain any of the following:

  • Blurry, misaligned, mismatched, or pixelated images
  • Explicit language
  • Placeholder images
  • References to illegal drugs, profanity, or violence

Tools and Resources

Use our own Podcasting Resources Guide (PRG) for additional research on cover art tools, designs and utilities.

In Conclusion

  • Be bold - don't be subtle.
  • Be curious and consultative - don't design in isolation.
The best designs "pop" and are noticeable, bright, graphic and somewhat minimalistic.
art cover art icon design