Ultimate Guide to YouTube Channel Art

YouTube Tips

Practical Lessons from analyzing 33 successful YouTube channels

If your YouTube channel were to have a visiting card of its own…

It’d be called – “Channel Art” aka “Channel Header Image” or “YouTube Banner”.

The small horizontal banner that goes across the top of your channel page is the first thing your visitors see, and it answers their 2 pressing questions:

  • Who are you? and
  • What you offer

If designed well, the banner…

  • Orients the viewers.
  • Sets expectations.
  • And makes a strong first impression.

In this guide, we will explore a ton of creative ideas, best practices and practical tips learnt from analyzing 33 successful YouTube channels, so that you too can design a killer ‘YouTube header banner’ for your channel.

But, before that…

Let’s get a few basics right for your Channel Art.

Preferred Dimensions for your YouTube Channel Art:

Go over to YouTube.

For the next 5 minutes, just randomly browse through different YouTube channels and notice their channel art (especially for the channels that’ve been started recently).

You will come across countless cases where the creators have made a mess of their banners, because they haven’t learnt about the right dimensions to design their channel banners.

You’d see that banners that look good on PC, look horrible on mobile phone, tablet or TV.

It’s because, YouTube site resizes the thumbnail image, to display more or less of the banner on different browser windows and device screens.  So, if you don’t design your channel header in the right dimensions, the look and feel of your channel page will be messed up.

Here are the preferred dimensions for your YouTube Channel Art…

Channel Art Image Size:

YouTube recommends uploading one 2560 x 1440 px image for the banner. The file size should be 6MB or smaller.

The safe area for Text and logo is at the centre – 1546 x 423 px.

I know, it’s a bit confusing. That’s why YouTube offers you Free ‘Channel Art Templates’ to download and customize.

Here is a snapshot of the template they offer:

Here is the link to download the free template:

All you need to do, is to pick a relevant image to serve as the background and design your text and logo in the safe area marked on the template.

For the image on your YouTube banner…

You may choose…

  • A picture stored on your computer or
  • An image from YouTube’s Photo library (select the ‘Gallery’ tab when asked to upload an image)

For instructions on how to Add or Change Channel Art:

Refer to this page for step by step instructions by YouTube:

On the same page, you’ll also find instructions on how to add different Social media links to your channel banner.

The steps are quite intuitive and easy to follow.

Now that you know the basics of designing a YouTube Channel Art, let’s discuss the…

Key components of an effective Channel Art

We derived these components from analyzing successful YouTube channels across categories:

1. Show your face

Can you notice the one thing common across the 3 Channel Arts below?

Yes. They all feature their lead creator on their channel banner.

Since these are personal brands, it’s the perfect strategy to follow.

If you pay close attention, you’ll notice these subtle messages lying underneath the photos they featured on their channel header:

  • Casey Neistat: A vlogger. The photo places him right on a busy street.
  • Peter McKinnon: A photographer. The photo shows him looking at the world through his window (a metaphor for the camera lens)
  • Pat Flynn: A podcaster. Notice the headphones around his neck

So, if you’re the face of your channel, put your face on your channel header. It allows your viewers to establish a connection with you right away.

2. Present your brand

What would you feature on your Channel Header if you are a company?

Your Brand name of course.

Watch the YouTube channel header image of some of the well-known brands:

Easy to recognize. Isn’t it?

Now, let me show you a creative twist.

Here’s the YouTube channel Art of a well-known Soccer team – ‘Arsenal’. See how they feature the team photo of their top players:

Clever, right?

3. Flaunt what you are known for

What if you are neither a personal brand, nor a popular company?

Simple.

Show what people know you for.

See the Channel Art of ‘Dude Perfect’:

One look at the banner shows what the channel is all about – a group of guys performing trick shots and stunts.

Here is the channel art of Nikkie Tutorials:

Can you guess what her channel is all about?

Yes. Beauty and Makeup tutorials.

What about this one?

Yeah. It’s a travel Vlog of Louis.

So, as you can see – a good channel art gives a quick snapshot of what your channel is all about.

It attracts the right audience and builds a connection.

Now, the question is…

Can the YouTube Banner do more than just introduce your channel?

Of course, it can.

Let me show you the different ways in which creators have been leveraging their channel art.

1. Urge people to subscribe

You can request viewers to subscriber to your channel. See some examples here:

2. Make announcements

You can use your Channel Art as your channel’s notice board. 

Also, you can use Channel Art to convey key information about your channel, including your upload schedule, tagline, social media accounts and more.

See Sandeep Maheshwari celebrating the milestone of achieving 8 Million Subscribers:

See Guru Mann Fitness announcing the release of his Promo video on Thyroid Diet – through his Channel Art:

3. Sell your eBooks on your Channel Art

You can use your Channel header as your Ad banner if you like.

See Joey Graceffa promoting his new book on his Channel Art:

Here’s Video Influencers selling their book:

4. Make an opt-in offer for your free courses

Here’s our opt-in offer on our Presentation Process YouTube channel.

A substantial percentage of those who click on the link on our channel art and sign up for our free 5 Day Mini Training end up purchasing our products.

Sweet. Isn’t it?

Here’s Cinecom offering ‘2 Months free courses’ on their Channel Art:

5. Sell anything

Don’t have books or courses to sell?

No problem.

See anything you want.

Here’s ‘The King of Random’ selling Business enquiries for their service:

 Here’s Buzzfeed Video urging people to download their App:

Here’s Unbox therapy presenting ‘Great deals on Tech & Gaming’.

You can promote anything that solve the problems of your channel viewers.

6. Promote your second channel

Another common trend you’d notice is – creators promoting their vlogging channel on their main channel through Channel Banner.

See these examples:

Thus, a well-designed channel art can promote your channel, bring viewers to your other channels, help build your list and even sell products and services.

Now, let me share with you some best practices followed by successful channels.

Best Practices in Creating YouTube Channel Art

1. Mention the timing & frequency of your posting schedule

YouTube is growing at the rate 100% every year. In fact, it is fast replacing television sets at home.

Which means, your regular audience is already treating the videos from your channel as episodes of a show.

That’s why, it helps to announce your posting schedule to your audience via your channel banner – so they know when to expect to hear from you next.

Look at these examples:

 Let’s all learn from each other.

This strategy helps even in the ranking of your videos.

Experts say that the number of views a video receives in the first 48 hours – determines the likelihood of the video being shown in the ‘suggested videos’ column on the right.

When your audience knows your posting schedule and frequency, they automatically ramp up the view count of your videos. It’s a win-win.

2. Clearly articulate what you do

Telling your viewers what to expect from your channel is a good strategy. Watch how clearly these channels articulate their proposition:

3. Ensure consistency between your Channel art and your Video thumbnails

When you start treating every element of your YouTube channel as a brand asset, you’ll automatically ensure a fair amount of consistency between elements like Channel Art and Video thumbnails.

See the consistency between the banner and thumbnails of Jamie Oliver’s channel:

Observe the consistency in National Geographic channel:

Conclusion:

When you follow these simple ideas to design your Channel Art, you’d automatically attract the right audience to your YouTube channel.

Designing your YouTube banner is not a onetime exercise.

Keep learning new ideas from successful channels and see the kind of impact they make on the view count and subscriber count of your channel.

Keep the ideas that work and junk the rest.

By the way, what are some of your favorite Channel Arts? And why?

Tell us in the comments section below.