From recommended design layouts to creating cool graphics, here’s your guide to branding your own YouTube channel with channel art.
YouTube has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a hosting platform for home videos. Now, savvy entrepreneurs, brands, and freelancers are using YouTube channels to connect with thousands of potential customers, as well as reap the rewards of video advertising on the site.
All successful YouTube channels have one thing in common — a clear and compelling identity that ensures the channel and videos have a consistent look and feel. Refining a channel identity across banners, thumbnails, video intros, and end screens is a sure-fire way of upping the professionalism of your channel and attracting more viewers.
Consider this your go-to guide for branding your YouTube channel with channel art, covering what software you’ll need to create graphics, recommended design layouts, and tips on the technical details, including sizing your designs. If you’re entirely new to YouTube, you’ll want to start with our guide on how to start a YouTube channel. Once you have those basics down, you can jump into this guide on channel branding. It’s an essential read for budding vloggers, designers, and digital marketers
What You’ll Need to Create a YouTube Channel Identity: The Basics
You don’t need to spend a huge amount of time or money creating a professional identity for your channel. With a good set of foundation graphics and images to work with, you can create the designs you need quickly and easily using budget-friendly software.
To create a range of versatile designs you can use across your YouTube channel, you’ll need the following:
Software for Creating Designs
Any 2D design program will do, but Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and Affinity Photo are particularly well-suited to creating layouts for the web. Both Adobe and Affinity offer free trials of their products, giving you plenty of time to put your designs together without loosening the purse strings.
Logo and Icon Variations
These will give your channel a uniform, professional look in an instant and instill a sense of trust in your brand. Logos can be placed on headers, thumbnails, and end screens to add authority and legitimacy. Save your logo files as high-resolution PNG files to preserve transparent backgrounds, allowing you to layer logo designs over the top of backgrounds cleanly.
Legible and Professional Font(s)
Using the same font or fonts consistently across all your designs will help to pull together your channel’s identity. Fonts that are highly legible and visible, such as chunky sans serifs, are useful for small-scale thumbnails.
Brand Color Palette
A consistent color palette is the unsung workhorse of any well-designed YouTube channel. Whether you opt for eye-catching neons, soothing pastels, or optimistic brights, stick to a restricted palette of two to five colors for a uniform look. You can vary these colors across backgrounds, overlays, and typography. For web designs, you’ll need to create your color swatches as RGB or HEX colors.
While you can grab screenshots from your videos and use these as static images on your designs, the results will be much better if you use photographs.
If you’re a vlogger with an individual-led channel, such as beauty tutorials, fitness classes, or cooking videos, place closeup head shots of yourself or the person featured in the videos alongside text titles on thumbnails and banners.
A smiling selfie that makes eye-contact with the viewer goes a long way, but generally aim to give the viewer a sense of what they can expect from the video. If you’re teaching photography tips, holding a camera is an instant cue. Gamer? Wearing a headset sends out a clear message about the content of your channel.
What You’ll Need to Design for Your Channel: Banners, Thumbnails, Slides, and End Screens
Once you’ve gathered together the building blocks of your identity “kit,” you can start to create the different designs you’ll need to create a comprehensive channel identity.
The designs you’ll need to put together include:
- A banner — This appears along the top of the channel page.
- Thumbnails for each video — These allow viewers to see a quick snapshot of your video as they’re browsing YouTube.
- In-video slides — You can introduce a video or split up sections of a video with a branded slide, animation, or video sequence.
- An end screen — This is a slide that appears during the last five to twenty seconds of a video, promoting other videos, asking viewers to subscribe, or prompting them to check out info or links in the text below the video.
Read on to discover more details about each of these designs, and pick up tips for creating an effective channel identity using channel art.
Size: 2560 x 1440 pixels
YouTube recommends this with TV screens in mind. For desktops, however, the maximum dimensions are 2560 x 423 pixels.
Keep in mind that the banner will have to look good across a variety of devices and screen sizes. So, make sure the resolution is crisp and clear (it’s better to design with the maximum screen size in mind). PNG files will render text content in clearer definition than JPEG images.
Because the banner has to adapt to different screen widths, it’s best to place important elements — such as logos or names — near the center of the banner. YouTube can place your user icon or social sharing buttons over the sides of your channel art, so the outer edges should really only contain background or photo content.
With this in mind, focus your energy on creating an eye-catching banner that has a strong central focus. Combine a photo of the channel’s star, a scaled-up logo, or a channel title with your brand color palette, graphic shapes, or gradients to create a pro look in no time.
2. Channel Icon
Size: 800 x 800 pixels
Your channel icon appears in searches, on your channel page, and next to the title of videos in searches and on the home feed.
Optimize your logo as an icon that can be adapted as a round graphic —YouTube will crop the square edges into a circle 800 px in diameter.
Size: 1280 x 720 pixels (with a minimum width of 640 pixels), under 2 MB, and uploaded as a JPG, GIF, or PNG file.
Thumbnails are small but mighty. They are a powerful tool for enticing potential viewers to click and watch your video. So, it pays to consider their design as much as banners or actual video content.
While you can pick from three options that YouTube automatically generates, you can achieve a more unique look by creating your own thumbnail. Combine a single image and the title of the video onto the design, and use a bold color or contrast to create a clickable design. For photos, use an engaging headshot with an excited and enthusiastic expression to attract viewers’ attention, or an illustration that has a strong, graphic style. Direct eye-contact in images also helps to draw in clicks.
Keep in mind that on many devices, thumbnails will be teeny-tiny, so make sure that text content is super-enlarged and legible — bright white sans-serif text against a colored or dark background is simple and effective.
Size: To match the dimensions of a YouTube video, the maximum dimension is 3840 x 2160 pixels, with an aspect ratio of 16:9.
Slides are static graphics that you can place at the start of your videos, or scatter throughout to divide the video into sections. This can be as simple as an image with a video title, or adapted as a cut-out overlay, under which you can place video content. Alternatively, you might want to use an animated logo reveal or purposefully created video sequence.
Static slides are quick and easy to create and help to polish up the look of your videos. Slides that include logos also help to make your videos appear more professional and branded.
In terms of style, you can be as creative as you like with your slide designs. Keep in mind, subtitles and hover elements tend to appear towards the bottom or edges of a video, so centralize text content on your slide.
Once you’ve created an initial slide design using your identity colors, fonts, and logo, you can reuse this as a template for other videos.
5. End screen
Size: As with slides, the dimensions match that of YouTube videos, so a maximum dimension of 3840 x 2160 pixels.
Also referred to as “end cards” or “endslates,” an end screen helps to extend watch time on your channel by offering clickable links to other videos. They can also be used to encourage subscription, or point towards onward links in the description text below the video or a pinned comment.
You have the choice to add an end screen in YouTube Studio using preloaded templates. Or, for a more branded look, you can create your own.
Effective end screens place the focus on the call-to-action, whether it’s a subscribe click or a featured video. A themed background using your brand colors or a photo helps to up the professionalism of the design. Try to use visual cues in the end screen, such as arrows or photos that look to or point towards the call-to-action.
Conclusion: Branding Your YouTube Channel with Channel Art
In this article, we’ve looked at a simple and effective formula for creating a professional identity for your YouTube channel.
Once you have the building blocks of your identity in place — including a logo, fonts, colors, and images — you can use software like Photoshop or InDesign to create designs for the channel’s banner, icon, and thumbnails. It’s also important to consider how you can incorporate the identity into your videos, designing slides, and end screens that can be saved as templates and reused for different videos.
Discover more great tips for making your YouTube videos and channel as professional and successful as possible, from the basics you’ll need to create your own channel to creating an easy video studio from home:
- Everything You Need to Start a YouTube Channel
- How to Set Up a YouTube Video Studio Anywhere
- Refresh Your Channel with 10 YouTube Banner Art Ideas
- Supercharge Your Channel with Unlimited Music for YouTube Videos
- How We Got 100,000 Subscribers on Our Youtube Channel
Cover image by Aleksandr Merg.