Brownly

Podcast Branding + Design

You know those projects that you're dying to work on but genuinely don't have the time for? Brownly is one of those projects.

As sociopolitical tensions began rising over the last few years, my friend and I frequently found ourselves deep in conversation about minority representation and intersectionality. We were frustrated at how quickly our society had started regressing, and we were afraid for the future.

We needed to find a healthy and constructive coping mechanism for our feelings of disappointment and sadness. So we decided to start a podcast. It made sense. We were already discussing these topics — practically on a daily basis — so why not put in the effort to produce something that could benefit others?

The podcast needed to provide both catharsis and upliftment. Some of the topics we wanted to discuss were heavy, so bringing in some lightheartedness and laughter was a must. As American-born children of South Asian heritage, we would focus on the stories and experiences of minorities and marginalized groups. We would tell jokes, laugh, argue discuss, and celebrate our differences and the overall human condition. We got excited!

Brownly - The Podcast

We planned it out.
We wrote show notes.
I designed the logo.

Coming from Pakistani households, we both grew up speaking two languages: English and Urdu. So before we even settled on the name Brownly, I already knew the branding would need to reflect our cultural roots.

I wanted to incorporate the Urdu script in way that was clear but not tacky. I began writing out the name in the Nastaliq script because of its embellishments and flourishes. When it came time to incorporating that style into the Roman English lettering, it started feeling cheap and almost caricaturesque.

Brownly Logo Design SketchesBrownly Logo Design Sketches

I then played around with the Kufic script - a blocky, geometric style. Now, I was getting somewhere. It was simpler and didn't look like I was using a novelty font. The thick lines and sharp edges of the Kufic script integrated nicely into the Roman English characters keeping the letterforms legible. Finally, the element that truly tied it back to our heritage was adding nuqtas (diacritic marks) to the characters whose Urdu counterparts would require them.

Brownly Logo Design Iterations Brownly Logo Design Details

We recorded episodes.
We edited.
I made the theme music.

Using Audiotool, I created the instrumental and synth beats; I then brought them into Adobe Audition to put everything together and master the track. The result was theme music that I think captured the musical tones of our South Asian roots and our American upbringing. You can listen to it below along with some clips from the show.

We re-recorded.
We edited some more.
I designed the website.

We wanted the website to be simple and serve only two funcitons: let people know where they could listen to the podcast, and tell people who we are and what the podcast was about.

Brownly Website on iPadBrownly Website on iPhone

We hit pause.

Sometimes, life gets so hectic that a great idea needs to take the backseat. Between our full-time jobs, conflicting afterwork schedules, and living over 1,500 miles away from each other, we couldn't come up with a schedule to produce episodes regularly. We've had to postpone launching Brownly, but we're still working on it! We're just taking our time to get it just right while we take care of some of those pesky life obligations first.

Below is a rough cut of various clips from the podcast in which we briefly discuss things like the fear of creating, the significance of proper name pronunciation, and minority representation in media. Please be aware that there is some language that may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Brownly - The Podcast

Helping or hurting?

For a while, I hesitated adding this project to my portfolio. A project that I've had to put on hold would probably hurt me rather than help me, right? Is that the way we need to look at our work? Can we not be proud of what we've created if it's not already a viral success? Screw that. I'm proud of the work I did, and I learn some great lessons from the experience. So, what the hell?

Here are somethings Brownly either taught me or at least reinforced.

  1. Simply hitting record doesn't turn your conversation into a podcast - preparation and editing make a world of difference. It takes a lot of effort to make something seem effortless.
  2. Your voice is your voice, and it needs to be appreciated. I'm starting to get over the uncomfortable feeling of hearing myself on a recording.
  3. When you share a close, personal project with someone, it's easy for you to feel like it's straying from your vision. Keep an open mind with your teammate(s) and don't hesistate to voice your concerns. And don't assume that it has to be exactly as it was in your mind: let it evolve naturally.
  4. No matter how great of a listener you are, you can always be better.
Brownly - The Podcast

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