Arguably one of the most important features of your podcast (other than the recordings) is the name. Along with your logo, this is the first impression listeners will have with your show, and in a world of reading books by their covers, it is critical that you’re leaving a good impression from the get-go.
Today we will be helping you tackle this name game, giving you our top tips for making sure your podcast name is both unique, and effective.
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Should podcast names be unique?
It should go without saying that when naming a podcast, your number one priority should be to have a name that is unique. There are a few different reasons for this.
The first is that your name is your brand, and if you are sharing that with another show, then you run the risk of confusing and subsequently losing listeners as a result. In naming your show a name already in use, you run the risk of diverting listeners away before they have had a chance to listen to your hard work
In essence, a podcast name is a listener’s first impression of your show, therefore it is important that you consider the message you want to convey. A name should speak to your show’s topic, tone, and leave the listener curious for more. By choosing a duplicate name you may end up giving listeners the impression that you lack effort and originality, which is some seriously bad advertising right off the bat.
So, while there are a plethora of factors and considerations to keep in mind when naming your podcast, having a unique name should be your number one priority if you plan on maximizing the number of listeners in the long run.
Are podcast names copyrighted?
After careful consideration, and countless drafts, you’ve found the perfect podcast name. Succinct and impactful, you’ve singlehandedly conjured an effective and unique name for your show – but can you be sure it stays unique?
It is worth saying off the bat that we don’t claim to be legal experts, and laws vary from country to country so please don’t assume this applies to the place you call home, but the general consensus seems to be that even without filing for a copyright, once published, your name does have trademark rights.
While it is advised that you should still file a trademark for your name just to be safe if someone were to copy your name exactly, or very closely, common law rights would regard this as an infringement on your trademark.
So, while podcast names aren’t copyrighted by default, they do have some rights, and in a dispute between two shows without official copyright, the older one will win in most cases. That being said, if one show manages to get the official filing for the name, then they will own the copyright to that particular IP – so it is recommended that you get your papers in sooner rather than later if you want to make sure your name is properly protected.
Can I change my podcast name?
With trademarks in mind – what if worst comes to worst, and for whatever reason, you need to change your podcast name? Is this advisable, and more importantly, can it even be done?
It is possible and if you need to change the name of your podcast to stay on the right side of the law then of course you must do it. However, it should be stressed that there are downsides to doing so. This is because as discussed before, your name is your brand. A crucial first impression for a new listener, and a handy signpost for those returning, your podcast name is second only to content in importance.
Changing your name has many risks, the biggest of which being that it may confuse or alienate your listeners. Long-time fans will come to expect to find your show under a certain name, and changing this is like pulling the rug from under them. They may regard this as a change in tone or format, and be less inclined to listen as a result – or in the worst case, they may be unable to find your show entirely due to the switch.
Therefore, it is important to announce the switch in name long before doing so and make a point of explicitly stating what you intend to change, and what listeners can expect to stay the same. While this isn’t going to rectify all the issues outlined above – it will certainly soften the blow.
As mentioned above, the ideal situation always is to choose a unique name from the start to avoid being in this situation.
How do you avoid copyright on a podcast?
It should be clear that you don’t want to change the name of your podcast if at all possible. So what can you do to minimize the risk of needing to? Here are a few options:
- Pick something unique – While you may be content with trying to think up a name you’d assume nobody has used before, it’s far better to do your research to avoid being stung later on down the line. This means checking Spotify, Apple Music, and most important of all…
- Do a trademark search – Even if the streaming platforms are telling you that the name is free to use, there may be someone that has had a show, or is planning to start one, and has secured the trademark for that particular name. Therefore, it is vital that you check the records to ensure your name is fair game before settling on it.
- File a trademark – Now that you know for a fact that nobody has got there before you, this is your time to make it official, and file your paperwork. While this may seem like a drastic move for a new show, it will save you time and effort down the line and will also prevent you from any nasty complications in the future.
There’s no denying that names are tricky business. With any important decision, it is essential you evaluate all your options, and don’t settle until you are 100% certain you’ve made the right choice.
Now you know a bit more about the do’s and don’ts of naming your podcast, how can you get that name out there for all to see? We talk about all this and more in ‘Podcast Hashtags for Instagram – Expand your Show’s Reach’.
Once again, we are not legal experts and you should seek professional advice to get some clarity on your own personal situation. The information contained in this article is not legal advice.