Video content has become increasingly important in our ever-changing media culture. In fact, it’s projected that by 2021, more than 80% of all internet traffic will be video! It makes sense that this kind of content is on the uptick, because videos are one of the most interpersonal ways we can connect to people and brands around the world. And to make the best impression with your viewers, it’s not enough to have amazing videos - you’ve got to give viewers an experience that starts with the way you present your video content, starting with your YouTube Channel Art and Icon.
Whether you’ve already started a YouTube channel or you’re planning to, we’ve got super helpful tools and templates for you to create branded YouTube Channel Art and Icons that speak well of your brand. They’re already pre-sized (and pre-designed!) to perfection in BeFunky’s YouTube Channel Art Maker, so you can create professional graphics in a snap! This tutorial will walk you through the Channel Art and Icon, and we’ll show you the art of designing click-worthy YouTube thumbnails as the next part of this series.
Best Practices For Designing YouTube Channel Art
Before you establish a brand presence on YouTube, you’ve got to establish the essentials of your brand. Having a firm idea of your brand voice, color scheme, fonts, and logo will make the design process for your YouTube Channel Art a breeze. With your branding in mind, here are some guidelines for creating channel art that’s professional, thoughtful, and intriguing:
Keep it Simple
Busy designs detract and distract from the overall message from your brand. Make sure that whatever you design clearly shows your logo, colors, and any icon you want people to remember. Too many distractions make for a brand that is difficult to recall - and unfortunately, these brands slip into oblivion even if the content is worthy.
Know The Important Dimensions
YouTube requires Channel Art to be 2560 x 1440px, while Channel Icons should be 800 x 800px. Creating designs that are smaller in size or improperly proportioned will result in a pixelated blur of a mess once you upload. To keep your Channel Art and Icon looking clean, sharp, and professional, BeFunky’s Designer has all the perfectly-sized templates you need to act as your design guide! That means all you have to worry about is the design itself.
Design With The Safe Area In Mind
With YouTube Channel Art in particular, the display on different mediums like mobile and websites are smaller in height (1546 x 423 pixels to be exact), which means your design will get cropped depending on which medium the viewer is using. The portion of the Channel Art that never gets cropped is called the safe area, meaning it’s where important elements like text and logos should be placed.
Make sure to place the most important parts of your design within the safe area, with an adequate border of space around your design so that pieces of your brand are not cut off or come too close to the edge. In other words, it should look amazing at full size and at smaller, cropped sizes.
Stay On Brand
If you are making recipe videos, you do not want to put tools or building materials in your design. That would be confusing for your audience and they would wonder if they arrived at the right place - and most of the time leave before they’ve figured it out. What you want to do is design your brand around your niche and then make sure it stands out from the other brands in your niche.
Like we mentioned before, it’s important to establish your brand voice, color palette, and font choices before you start your designs. This way, it’ll be easier to stay on brand throughout the entire YouTube experience you’re giving your audience.
How To Create YouTube Channel Art
Now that you know the best practices for designing YouTube Channel Art, it’s time to start creating! To get started, head to the YouTube Channel Art Maker and choose your favorite template from the menu on the left.
First, it’s time to change the background of the template. If you’d like your background to be an image, click on the Image Manager tab to upload a photo, or click the Search Stock Images button to find a free stock image to use in your design. Either way, your images will appear as thumbnails that you can drag-and-drop to replace the existing image in the template. If you’d rather use a solid color as your background (like we are in this design!) click on the existing photo on the template and delete it, then click the Customize tab in the menu on the left and click the first tile to choose a new color for your background.
Pro Tip: You can easily type a HEX Color Code into the Color Palette to make sure you are using the exact same colors throughout your design. You can locate these codes when you open up any color menu. They should be a six digit sequence of letters and numbers following a “#”.
Next, it’s time to add a logo or title for your YouTube channel. If you’ve already got a logo handy, upload it into the Image Manager, then click on the thumbnail that appears after uploading and select Add As Layer to place it on your design. If you’d rather add text, click the Text tab (the A icon) in the menu on the left to type your messaging, then use the Text Properties menu that appears when any textbox is selected to change the font, color, letter spacing and more!
And finally, we’ve finished off our YouTube Channel Art with some customizable graphics found in the Design Elements tab. Simply click the Search Graphics button to find the perfect vectors for your design and add them onto your template by double clicking their thumbnails that appear in the Your Graphics section after you close the Graphic Search menu. Once they’re on your template, you can use the blue circles around them to resize and rotate them, and use the Graphic Properties menu to change the color, blend mode, and more. Feel free to get creative and layer graphics to create unique designs!
Remember that the most important elements of your design should be placed within the safe area, or the middle section of the template. This way they won’t get cropped by YouTube when viewing your channel on different devices. When you’re finished with your design, click the Save button at the top of the Designer and be sure to save it to your Computer and As A Project, so you can come back and edit it at a later date just in case you need to reconfigure the placement of your logo, graphics, etc.
How To Create A YouTube Channel Icon
Now that your YouTube Channel Art is complete, it’s time to create a branded YouTube Icon that fits along the same design guidelines. Channel Icons should be able to communicate the feel of your brand in the quickest way. This is usually the first interaction someone has with your brand from a secondary source, such as when someone views one of your videos before landing on your channel. You want to make sure this icon intrigues people enough to check out what your channel is all about.
To design your Channel Icon, head to BeFunky’s Designer and click the Custom Template button at the top of the Templates tab. Since YouTube requires Channel Icons to be 800 x 800 pixels, type those dimensions into the Height and Width fields of the Custom Template menu, then click Create. A perfectly sized blank template will now be loaded onto your canvas ready for you to customize.
To change the background color of your template, click the Customize tab in the menu on the left, then click the first color tile to select a new background color from the Color Picker menu. Remember that you can type a Color HEX code into the designated field to keep your brand colors perfect.
It’s important to keep the design really simple for your Channel Icon, mainly because it’s so small. We recommend only using your logo for this design, because additional elements tend to end up looking busy. If you’ve got an established logo, you can upload it into the Image Manager tab (the first icon in the menu on the left) and click on its thumbnail to select Add As Layer from the menu that appears to add it onto the template for resizing and placing.
If you’re creating a logo on the go (like we are!), you’ll find tons of vector graphics to customize by clicking on the Design Elements tab (the heart icon) in the menu on the left. Clicking the Search Graphics button will allow you to type in a search term and find the perfect icons for your project. Just click on all the ones you want, add them to your template, and customize away! Alternatively, you can click the Text tab (the A icon) in the menu on the left to type your channel name and customize the font according to your brand standards.
Once you have your logo how you’d like it, you can keep designing alternative options to choose from. Here, we’ve inverted the colors, added text, and played with placement to see what looks best as a Channel Icon.
After finishing each design, simply click the Save button at the top of the Designer to save the files to your Computer, and be sure to select the Save As Project option as well - this way you can save the file in editable format for future adjustments.
After you’ve created your amazing YouTube Channel Art and Icon, the next step is to upload them both to your YouTube channel! Once this is finished, all you need to do is film and edit some engaging video content and you’re on your way to establishing a professional and trustworthy YouTube channel that viewers will flock to.
Branding your YouTube Channel doesn’t stop at the Channel Art and Icon. The next part of this series will cover how to create custom YouTube Thumbnails that fit your brand and keep you recognizable! Click the link below to get started with your YouTube Channel Art and Icon, then get ready to create some custom YouTube thumbnails that make your videos stand out.