There are lots of opportunities where you can personalize and brand your YouTube channel. Learn how to create visual consistency and set your channel for success.
Before reading this article’s title, suppose someone asked you which website is second to Google globally when it comes to search queries. In that case, I bet you would not have guessed that it is YouTube.
Over 2 billion active monthly users give YouTube the second-biggest social network title, right behind Facebook. But this platform is also first when it comes to learning new skills, exercising at home, and the list goes on.
This platform also trumps LinkedIn and Facebook if you want to reach the B2B decision-makers and inform their purchase decisions. 70% of people purchased from a brand after seeing it on YouTube.
With the number of YouTube channels that earn over 10 000 USD per year increasing over 50% and the number of channels making over 100k per year increased 40% in 2020, it’s never been a better time to get on this platform.
Consistency is the key to good YouTube branding
Successful channels on YouTube have one thing in common, consistency. This includes everything, the quality of the video production, the visuals used on the channel, and how the description under the videos is written. Combined, they help your channel build a brand identity and distinguish itself.
In the long term, this helps you gain more new subscribers, more video views and achieving better visibility of your content and your brand.
When it comes to branding your YouTube channel, there are five key elements that you need to pay attention to consistency, logo, color, typography, and imagery. It all comes to translating your brand’s core message and values into visual and text elements.
Research and prepare in advance
Before we dive deep into the specifics of branding a YouTube channel, there are few things that everyone needs to do in advance to make sure that they are set for a smooth sail. Sure, the excitement of getting on the world’s largest video sharing platform might make you impatient and eager to start as soon as possible. However, making few preparations in advance will save you time and money in the long run.
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Research your competitors
It’s always nice to see what the competitors, both direct and indirect, are doing. What kind of videos are they making? How often are they posting new content? What’s the audience’s engagement? What are their strong and weak points when it comes to their YouTube presence?
Researching your competitors will help you get an idea about possible opportunities for your video content. If you are coming late to the party, it will help you determine where to start. Maybe your competitors have excellent video production but lack content that is more useful to your target audience? Or perhaps they don’t engage with their audience at all? By going carefully through their YouTube channels, you will quickly learn what works and what doesn’t in your industry.
Set up your account properly
I am still amazed how some brands or organizations still use Facebook profiles instead of Facebook Pages. This problem is persistent on almost every other social network. In most cases, it’s just the lack of knowledge of how specific platforms work. Picking the wrong type of account can limit your efforts on most social networks significantly.
On YouTube, you can create either a personal or brand/business channel. The Brand account allows you to assign more people with different levels of control to manage the channel. As your audience and channel grow, you might want to bring in additional people to help you with moderating or uploading your content.
The first thing that you should do when launching a new channel is to make sure that you verify it. Verification of a YT channel is similar to creating two-step authentication on your Gmail account. You can find detailed instructions in our guide. Verifying your channel will enable you to upload custom thumbnails as well as videos longer than 15 minutes. Once your channel has been active for 30 days and reaches its first 100 subscribers, you get an option to customize your channel’s URL. Make sure that the URL you pick is the same or similar to your channel’s name.
Do a diligent keyword research
SEO or search engine optimization can sound like a dreadfully boring thing from digital marketers’ worst nightmares. It is one of those things they don’t tell you when you think about a career in digital marketing until it’s too late and you already changed your profession on your LinkedIn profile.
But that’s until you learn to use the famous Keyword planner and a few additional tools and plugins. After that, you feel invincible in the marketing arena until Google pulls a classic Khaleesi move and burns down all your efforts with one algorithm update.
Good keyword analysis on YouTube can help you determine which topics are worth covering in your videos. It will help you make and execute a content plan that will give you desired results.
It will also help you writing video titles and descriptions that will make your videos easy to find for your target audience. Few tools can help you do a YouTube keyword analysis, and one of my favorites is YouTube Keyword Tool from Ahrefs.
Branding your YouTube channel
Now that you have all of the necessary prep work out of the way and into well-organized spreadsheets and content strategy, it’s time to do what you think is the fun stuff—setting up your YouTube channel’s visual consistency. At first, it may seem like an overwhelming task, but the trick here is to prepare most of the things in advance, so when the time comes for you to start your channel, most items that can be customized are already prepared. This is the list of the things that you can customize on a YT channel:
- video thumbnails
- channel icons
- branding watermarks
- in video slides
- logo bumper
- video intro/outro
- lower thirds
- end screen
All visual elements should tell your brand’s story
Preferably by now, you already have some visual identity for your brand. You have a brand logo, brand colors, fonts and core message, and some idea of who your target audience is. All these things come into account when it comes to creating your brand identity on the platform.
As a graphic element representing your brand, a logo is usually the first thing people notice about your brand. On YouTube, you will use your logotype or logomark on all the elements that you can customize on the channel. That’s why you have to make sure that the logo is recognizable when displayed in different sizes and on different screens. You should also have the logo available in different variants and colors so you can quickly place it where needed with little or no editing from your side. If you still think about a logo and don’t have one, you can always check our blog for some inspiration.
Color psychology already explained in depth everything you need to know about the correlation between brands and colors. There is an ongoing debate whether this works or not since the way we emotionally perceive colors is very individual. Nevertheless, when you are picking your brand color or color palette, it is always good to consider color theory, what kind of mood you want to create, and your target audience.
For example, a YouTube channel ZoneofTech uses white and blue for its logo and purple for video thumbnails. According to the psychology of color, white is perceived as pure, clean, blue as trustworthy and secure, and purple is associated with sophistication. This is an effective combination for a channel that always delivers reliable reviews of new Apple and other high-end tech brands.
MKBHD is a channel that also has honest reviews of high-end tech products. If you follow Marques Brownlee on YouTube, you know that he loves the red, black and white color combo. Color theory says that red can be energetic, attention-grabbing, black can be prestigious and sophisticated, and that’s how I would describe his videos.
Picking a font might sound like an easy task until you realize that you have a seemingly endless list of options. If you don’t have an already preapproved list of fonts that works well with your logo, then the best way to start is by looking at what other YouTubers are doing. Just make sure that whatever option you pick works well with the overall brand image you are trying to convey.
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Pay attention to every detail
When someone comes for the first time to your YT homepage, they will see the banner, channel icon, and all the recently uploaded videos. Make sure that the first impression is the right one. Don’t just recycle the visuals used for other social platforms, instead pay attention to YouTube’s specific requirements regarding the resolution, quality, and file format of the visuals and prepare them in advance.
Banners and channel icons
This is a prime real estate of YT channels, and many do not pay attention to it. They slap the company logo on it and leave it like that. This way, you miss an excellent opportunity to tell the audience about your brand or share additional information. Many well-branded channels use this place to put their company slogan or tell people what their channel is all about. This is also where you can share links to your social media profiles and link to your website.
YouTube recommends that the channel banner should be 2560 x 1440 px (minimum 2048 x 1152 px). The minimum safe area for placing a logo and other essential information is 1546 x 423 px. This significant difference between recommended image size and safe work area is because YouTube displays banners differently on different devices.
When it comes to the channel icon, make sure that the image you plan to use is easily distinguishable regardless of the screen size, as mentioned above. If you are using logotype, maybe you can use just the initials. If you are using a logomark, make sure it’s visible even in the smallest size. A lot of YouTubers use their photos as channel icons since they are the brand. In that case, make sure that the photo is of good quality and that it captures the essence of your brand. A LinkedIn profile photo probably won’t work here. Test and see which solution looks best for you.
Custom video thumbnails
When you start creating your YouTube brand identity, custom video thumbnails will help you become recognizable. Custom thumbnails should follow the overall visual style you are using on your channel. The color palette, fonts, and images used should reflect the brand’s style and the purpose of the channel. They are the first thing someone sees before deciding to play the video, so make sure they are attention-grabbing.
Our in-depth guide on YT Thumbnails should give you all the necessary information on this topic. From basic technical details about supported file types and resolutions to examples of creative solutions. There’s a good reason you should pay special attention to custom thumbnails. 90% of the most popular videos on YouTube have a custom thumbnail.
We only scratched the surface of creating a branding for a YouTube channel. Branding is an iterative process, just like most things marketing. You’ll have to go through a repetitive cycle of trial and error to discover what works for you. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic formula that can help you get instant results.
Fortunately, there are plenty of fantastic examples of nicely branded channels that you can use for inspiration. You should always check what your competitors do. Still, it would help if you also looked outside of your industry for some additional creative ideas.
If you don’t know how to use some of the professional tools like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop few free online tools might help you at the beginning like Canva, Snappa, Crello, etc.
However, when it comes to branding unless you are a designer or very skillful with the tools mentioned above, my suggestion is always to ask some professional to help you or give you a bit of advice. This might sound expensive, but services like ours at ManyPixels, are here to debunk the myth that professional designs are only for businesses with deep pockets.