How to Make YouTube Thumbnails That Stand Out

How to Make YouTube Thumbnails That Stand Out

Sarah Andres
January 9, 2024

On YouTube, the thumbnail is a preview image of your video that people will see before you click. By default, YouTube will choose a frame from your video as the thumbnail. However, most YouTubers will create a custom thumbnail.

Think of the thumbnail as the cover of your video. The thumbnail can pique someone's interest or may turn them away from watching your video. Thumbnails are an art of their own, with different styles and trends throughout the years. How can you create thumbnails that stand out? These are just some rules to create a great thumbnail that stands out. Besides making great thumbnails, you should employ other strategies as well. It would help if you used keywords, had a strong video description and a complete bio, invested in advertising, and used money to purchase YouTube likes

First, Get Those Dimensions Right

Before you consider what type of thumbnails you want, you should know what dimensions and thumbnails your videos should have.

The recommended thumbnail size is 1280 x 720 pixels in width and height. The recommended thumbnail ratio is 16:9. Finally, the accepted file types are .jpg, .png, .gif, and .bmp.

Also, the maximum data size your thumbnail can be is 2 MB. Sometimes, your thumbnail may be the recommended dimensions, but still be over 2 MB. If this happens, YouTube will not accept your thumbnail. We recommend saving the completed thumbnail in .jpg to mitigate this. Check the file size beforehand to see how big it is.

Look at Your Competition

Your video's best type of thumbnail will depend on your niche. Once you know what it is, enter keywords similar to your niche in the search bar. The top results will be examples of successful videos in your niche.

When you look at these videos, study their thumbnails. What are they doing to attract viewers? What fonts, colors, design choices, etc., do they use? We are not saying to copy your competition without changing anything about it. Instead, see how you can use your competition to inspire your future videos.

Have Font on It

Most thumbnails will have some font on it. Some will restate the title of their video using the font. Others may pull an exciting fact about the subject of their video to invite people to learn more. No matter which you choose, the font should be interesting.

Which font you want may depend on the tone you're trying to bring. Also, the font should be unique. Using standard fonts such as Arial may come across as generic. On the other hand, using inappropriate fonts, such as Comic Sans, on serious videos can look bad. Try experimenting with different fonts.

Put a Face on It

If you look at many YouTube thumbnails, one thing you may notice they have in common is that they have a face on them. Usually, this face may be the uploader reacting to something. Other times, it can be the face of the subject the video refers to. For instance, if you're uploading a true crime video, you may have a deranged photo of the killer on it.

Faces help to bring the human connection to the video. You don't need a face in every video you make, as it can be situational. However, in many cases, faces can help increase people's interest in your videos.

Have Your Branding On it

Many people will put their logo on the thumbnail to help with brand recognition. When you place your logo on it, ensure it doesn't overpower everything else. You may want to put it in the corner and have it small.

Think About the Colors

The colors of your video are vital. Which colors you want to choose depends on the mood your video sets. For example, reddish colors may excite the viewer. Generally, you'll want contrasting colors that make the thumbnail legible. You don't want your colors distracting from your font or the subject of your video. We suggest to look at the thumbnails your competition uses. See the most popular colors and use them in your thumbnails. However, add your own twist to it to make it stand out.

Don’t Have Too Much Going On

In a way, thumbnails are a work of art. As such, some YouTubers may put as much on it as possible. But a thumbnail is not a painting where a person will want to spend hours digesting every little bit. Too much clutter can distract the viewer, and if they don't know what the video is about, they may watch someone else.

So, use the less is more rule. Have plenty of negative space and make the subject of your video stand out even more.

Don’t Be Deceptive

Packaging your thumbnail with a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with your content is tempting. While thumbnails use a bit of clickbait tactics, lying about the subject of your video will cause your fans to distrust you. Not only that, but it violates YouTube's rules. If you do this, you may have your thumbnail removed by YouTube, or you may face more severe consequences. The best choice is to use elements in your video's composition in your thumbnail.

Evolve Your Thumbnails

Once you have found a thumbnail style that works well for your videos, don't rest easily. Remember that popular thumbnail aesthetics are constantly evolving. What works now may not work in a few years. So, pay attention to the thumbnails of your competition and notice if there are any changes.

The thumbnail world is constantly evolving. For example, there was a time when a thumbnail strategy was to put something sexual on the thumbnail regardless of the subject matter. YouTube cracked down on this strategy. That is another thing to keep in mind. Future-proof your thumbnails by avoiding any strong profanity or other subject matter that could get your video in trouble.

Publish your blog on this space.

RedAlkemi publishes a collection of blogs submitted by guest bloggers in the space of digital marketing, graphic design and web development. If you think you can add value to our blog with your content, we'd love to have you on board! Email us at