It’s the eighth week in our blog series ‘Use YouTube to your advantage: A Marketing Manual’ and this post covers everything you need to know about designing and uploading thumbnails for your YouTube videos.

You may ask, “why should your brand create custom thumbnails?” Well, one reason is that they act as mini marketing posters for your content and what’s more, they attract viewers to your videos and encourage them to watch.

Most content creators use screenshots from their videos which are preselected by YouTube during the uploading stage. But those who create their own thumbnails set themselves and their content apart!

With a high-quality thumbnail image, content creators show their brand personality before users even watch the videos. This not only attracts audiences and increases viewership, but it also establishes the quality and authority of your brand, thus improving customer loyalty and driving sales.  And if all these benefits aren’t enough, the use of custom thumbnails is also proven to boost the search engine rankings of your videos.

Use these following guidelines for creating thumbnails that will improve your video content viewership:

  1. When shooting your video, keep the future thumbnail in mind and take shots that could be used as a representative image.
  2. Thumbnails often show up in different formats depending on where they appear on YouTube, so be sure to upload a clear and vibrant image that stands out no matter the size.
  3. Be sure to take the clarity of your thumbnail into consideration so that, whether big or small, users can see all aspects of the image.
  4. Do not use an image that is inappropriate. This will simply turn potential viewers off.
  5. Design a thumbnail that reinforces your video’s title so that together they tell a story and fully inform potential viewers.
  6. Keep your video thumbnails consistent with your brand so that they are recognizable to your channel.
  7. Close-ups of faces, visually compelling images, and high-contrast images are often the most effective thumbnails for attracting audiences.


Follow One’s board Creating Great YouTube Thumbnails on Pinterest.

The various places on YouTube where thumbnails are used to showcase your videos…

  • First and foremost, the thumbnail for every YouTube video appears in the website’s search results (along with the first 60 characters of its title and about 140 characters of its description).
  • On mobile devices, there is a limited amount of space so search results are primarily thumbnails. With the ever-growing popularity of mobile video, a clear and informative thumbnail is even more essential to attract viewership!
  • Thumbnails are also the only representation of videos in the “Suggested Videos” section on each user’s homepage and also, on the right-hand side of a video being watched.


A clear and engaging custom thumbnail that sets your content apart from the rest can thus be imperative when it comes to improving your YouTube marketing strategy.

Make sure to check out next week’s post which is a guide to maximising your brand’s presence among search results, suggested videos and YouTube ads!

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