Hacking the YouTube ‘Playbook for Brands’: Thumbnails that Pop

/ Jun 2, 2014

YoutubePlaybookBrands

While creating optimal metadata for your brand’s YouTube content involves a lot of ins and outs, making the perfect thumbnails for your videos requires only a few, simple guidelines to getting it right. Follow these and you should end up with eye-catching images regardless of what context viewers see them in.

Make sure to have visual cues that relate to your brand.

If your brand logo is a certain color, say green, stick a bunch of green objects in your video. Any of those green-centric frames will serve as a way to attract viewers not only to an intriguing video, but also to one that looks like it came specifically from your brand.

Keep it compelling.

A thumbnail is no good if people are going to gloss over it for something brighter and shinier nearby. Use an image that people won’t be able to help themselves but gravitate to. The Brand Playbook picks out close-ups on faces as particularly good image to use, here. Faces have been psychologically proven to attract attention from other humans, after all (skim an introductory psych textbook if you don’t believe me). Also, high-contrast imagery that makes you want to stare always works. Just think about this before you pick your thumbnail: Would you want to click on this video?

High-resolution means a better image (duh).

This advice is so important that it outweighs how obvious it seems. The Brand Playbook specifically points to 640px x 360px min. with a 16:9 aspect ratio as the optimal presentation for your thumbnail. This will help the foreground of your image stand out from the background, which you’ll need to do to make people discern your thumbnail at a variety of sizes. After all, you never know what size internet users will see your thumbnail in, so you’ve got to make it catchy whether it’s tiny on the side of the screen or a number one search result.

It’s got to represent.

We went over this with the metadata, and this tip stands for thumbnails, as well. They have got to accurately represent your videos’ content. If they don’t, you’re honestly screwing everyone over, from viewers who expect one thing and get another, to your brand that is now known for false advertising. You must also remember that YouTube has a zero tolerance policy for, to put it delicately, inappropriate content. You know what this means, so don’t include anything too racy in your thumbnails.

Having completed thumbnail strategy 101, your brand is ready to move onto perfecting its YouTube videos’ annotations. There’s plenty to learn there, so stay tuned.

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