YouTube is considered the most popular social media platform by some accounts with 2.7 billion users worldwide. YouTube shares that 90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails. So, if you are trying to connect with a broader audience then it’s so important that you are taking all of the necessary steps to cut through the noise and stand out against the crowd. One way to do this is by creating strong YouTube thumbnails. Not only does this develop a stronger brand aesthetic but it can increase your click-rate.

If you want to take your YouTube videos to the next level, these seven best practices can help.

7 Best Practices for YouTube Thumbnails

1. Ensure You Have The Correct YouTube Thumbnails Size

To get started, make sure you are using the optimal thumbnail size, which should be 1280 pixels wide by 720 pixels tall, with a minimum width of 640 pixels. The ideal ratio is 16:9 as this is used most often in YouTube players and previews.

So, YouTube thumbnails will be small when you see them in a search. However, it will expand to the size of the video when it is played in the suggested playlist. It’s easier to have a large size that you can scale down rather than a smaller size you need to size up.

Some other details to remember are:

  • The file must be in JPG, PNG, or GIF image formats
  • The image file must be under the 2MB file size limit

By staying in the correct image size range, you can ensure that your thumbnails look crisp and clear.

2. Use A Still Image From The Video for Your YouTube Thumbnails

YouTube may automatically select an image that you can use, but if not, you can always export a still image using video editing software. What’s even better is that even if you don’t have any software, you can simply pause the video to a still image that you like and take a screenshot.

Using someone’s face that you want to be “the face” of the company is a great idea. Having one person as “the spokesperson” will humanize the business so that people can start to associate with a real person and not just a company.

3. Create a Customized Graphic

Some companies might create an image thumbnail that represents the video content. This could include a title or a summary of what the video will be like in addition to the name of the brand/business or a logo.

As you can see in the thumbnail image above with Chief Evangelist of FMGSamantha Russell, the still image is of her face, and regular viewers will come to recognize her as “the face” of the brand. She is smiling, and the image is used over a background with:

  • Eye-catching images
  • The company logo
  • A title that describes what the video will be about

It’s a great way to quickly and easily show what viewers can expect when they click on this video before they even click on it.

4. Combine The Video Still With the Graphic

If you want to truly grab your audience’s attention, try including a still image from the video with graphics in the background. This is popular when a video includes people, such as a vlog or a talk show.


The thumbnail above from Penny Phillips has a still image of her on top of an eye-catching graphic with her logo, “Practice Management With Penny,” which is a great way to draw in your audience and makes you want to find out more about “How to Acquire Clients Post-Pandemic.”

5. Avoid Misleading Images and Titles

Keep your titles and images simple and to the point. Make sure they showcase what the video will be about. And, of course, you want the imagery to be eye-catching, but you don’t want it to be over the top or anything that might deter your target audience.


In the above thumbnail from Alan Hensley, CFP®, the image shows the app that can be used to teach kids about saving money with the title “Financial Literacy. Use This App To Teach Kids About Saving Money.” It’s short and sweet with a clear image, so visitors know exactly what the video will be about.

6. Use A Strong Title

Just like we’ve discussed in email marketing, blogging, etc., titles are incredibly important. You don’t have a lot of time to reel in your visitors, so using a strong and eye-catching title is crucial for roping them in. In the thumbnail below, Wealth Keel, LLC, the visitor can tell immediately what the video is about as the title is “8 Ways To Achieve Financial Success as a New Attending.”

Additionally, fun images provide more detail about what the video will be about.

7. Try Out Different YouTube Thumbnail Designs

Like most things, practice makes perfect, so find the best design and size for you. If there is a video that is performing well, check the image and track the analytics. Did the click rate go up or down? You must be using legitimate data when doing the comparisons, as this is crucial for deciding if the design worked or if you should use something else.

Some additional things to keep in mind when creating your designs and trying out new options are:

  1. Make sure the thumbnail font is large enough to read
  2. Capture attention by using contrasting colors
  3. Use white space and negative space
  4. Highlight different content streams with different colors

By trying out designs, you can truly see what works for your firm and create an aesthetic for your business.

How We Create Thumbnails

We use Canva to create images, and what’s even better is that it is a FREE visual content creation tool that is made for non-designers. There is a huge library of pre-designed, pre-sized templates, and that includes YouTube thumbnail templates to help you get started. Canva also has thousands of premium-quality design elements ranging from custom fonts to free stock photos to help you add some life to your designs.

As you can see, there are so many templates and options to choose from, so you can kickstart any ideas that you have or use certain templates as inspiration.

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