Brand marketing on social media is no small task, and each platform also needs its own approach. The same goes for YouTube since there are many different ways that you can show off your design capabilities – be it video thumbnails, a profile picture, or something else. But there’s also another element, that’s pretty much the most important of them all – YouTube banners (or YouTube channel art, as it’s often called).
The purpose of a YouTube banner is relatively similar to what a Facebook cover image does – or your website’s homepage, for that matter. It’s an image that stretches horizontally on the top of your YouTube channel page, and it’s pretty much the first thing that you’ll see when opening a YouTube page. Since it’s so eye-catching – you should pay attention to it in terms of brand promotion and representation.
YouTube banner dimensions
Making a YouTube banner is not a particularly complicated task on its own, but there are also many different nuances that you have to be aware of, both from the design standpoint and the technical standpoint. For example, figuring out your banner dimensions should be done before starting to work on your banner’s design, since you have to be aware of what aspect ratio your image should have beforehand.
Google has an entire list of guidelines that are only applicable to YouTube banners. For example:
The file size of your banner should be either 4 MB or lower when uploading it to YouTube;
The preferred size for a YouTube banner is 2560 x 1440 pixels, with a 16:9 aspect ratio;
There’s also a minimal size for a banner to be accepted by YouTube – 2048 x 1152 pixels.
Another matter of importance that needs to be brought up here is the concept of a “safe area”. In a YouTube logo, a “safe area” is a space in the exact center of a banner that is always shown for visitors, no matter what device they’re using. This concept comes directly from a wide range of devices that YouTube supports.
The problem here is that YouTube is a massive platform that can be viewed using many different devices – desktop PCs, laptops, mobile devices, TVs, and more. Each of those device types has its own scalability settings (or they’re adaptable, as with desktops and laptops, depending on the size of a window and your device’s aspect ratio) – and your banner would also be scaled in according to the device used.
This is where the concept of a “safe area” comes in – this is an area in the middle of your banner that should be always visible to potential visitors, no matter what device they’re using. This area has its own size of 1546 x 423 pixels, and it should house the most important part of the information that you want to convey about your business or brand.
There’s also an additional limitation for your banner when it comes to the “safe area”. To ensure that the entirety of the “safe area” is going to be visible for all of the users, no matter what their screen aspect ratios are (including desktop ultrawide monitor users), you have to commit to creating a 2560 x 423 pixels image – with 2560 being the maximum width for the “safe area” to not be cut off on some device.
Tips for making a cool YouTube banner
This category is a partial continuation of the previous one – since giving advice when it comes to design is incredibly hard and situational. However, there are still some general tips that can be brought up to make sure your banner would not be inferior to the competition.
For example, a surprising number of people forget to link their social media accounts to show up in their YouTube banners. This is a relatively simple step that lets your visitors have a way to quickly move to your other social media accounts.
There’s also another point that can be applied to both YouTube and your other social media accounts – do not neglect them. Especially if you’re linking them to each other in some way, it’s important to refresh your channel’s look and content regularly to keep looking up-to-date and fresh.
Additionally, there are several different tips that are directly related to your banner’s “safe area” and the way it can be presented. As such, you should always make sure that your banner’s “safe area” is capable of representing your entire brand as a standalone image – meaning that putting your logo or a slogan outside of this area is probably not the best idea.
You have to remember that your YouTube banner is a big part of a visitor’s first impression of your brand. This is why it’s important to remember all of the necessary parts of a good banner, including logos, slogans, or even CTAs (call-to-action).
Your banner doesn’t even have to be a single image to be considered a cool YouTube banner. Many different image editing services have the ability to combine several different images into a single one – it’s possible that this is the option you’re looking for with your banner.
High-definition images are still important, though. This is where such a large prerequisite for banner sizes comes from – your banner might look decent on mobile devices, but if it’s blurry when viewed on TVs, then it’s a ruined first impression from the get-go.
And the last point that can be brought up here is to check if your banner image looks good on all of the different device types, in general, not just for your “safe area”. Luckily enough, YouTube has a feature that allows you to see how your channel banner would look on different device types, so it’s not a particularly complicated task.
Examples of a cool YouTube banner
However, it’s quite problematic to try and explain how a cool YouTube banner looks without some examples – since there might be a lot of industry-specific details that we can’t really predict. What we can do is to present our top 10 examples of cool YouTube banners:
Starting off with a first example that follows all of our recommendations – a 2560 x 1440 pixels size, with a dedicated “safe area” with the most important information about the brand. The addition of a sakura tree in the bloom adds a nice touch to the entire theme of Japan that adds to the entire picture but does not make the rest of it useless without itself.
Another example here is true to a part of its slogan – being minimalistic. This banner includes pretty much nothing else aside from a background image with – you guessed it – a backpack, and a combination of a title with a slogan. Despite all of that, this banner still does everything that is needed from a banner on YouTube – keeps its information in a “safe area”, sets up a correct first impression, and so on. All of this is what makes it a cool YouTube banner.
At-Home Fitness Crew
This banner is one more example of simplicity being the key to everything. The entire image speaks for itself and immediately creates an expectation of what a user could find on this channel, and the existence of a title, a slogan and a CTA makes it a versatile option for all of the different screen types. A nice little detail here is that the background colors of the text are connected with the image in question – pink being the color of a mat, and red being the color of an undershirt in the frame.
It’s actually rather interesting how even the simplest details could really help with forming a great first impression – it’s exactly the case for this banner above. You can immediately guess that it’s something health-related since the background color is light green – the one that is frequently associated with health and nature. This is where the title and the slogan about Vegan cuisine fit nicely, painted in the same “healthy” color and accompanied by a bowl of a healthy dish.
While we’re on the topic of food, it’s not always about pre-made dishes, either. For example, this cool YouTube banner above uses three different images as a representation of its main product – organic food. The message is short and to the point, and the minimalistic approach is great to immediately grab the attention of a visitor with only a title in the frame.
But it was all about different products before. What about a single product that is the prime theme of a channel? This is where our example of Perfect coffee comes in. The background image shows the entirety of a main product, for all of the device types, including the “safe area” – and the message in the middle is short and sweet. The brown-ish color palette of the entire banner also compliments the coffee-related message quite nicely.
Makeup for beginners
Using a different font is also not a bad way to make your banner stand out in some way – which is what our next example does quite successfully. All of the recommendations are met here, with the “safe area” and other small details at the edges of the image. In addition, both the title and the slogan are presented using an unusual font that, when combined with the entire color theme of an image, works rather well in conveying a message about beauty and guidance.
There’s also another theme that is quite prevalent on YouTube for the last few years, and it’s vlogging. This example above manages to capture most of the important facets of a regular vlog with a special theme – a home bakery, as the title suggests. Both the owner and the products are in the frame, and the overall aesthetic works really well to create a cool YouTube banner that draws attention to itself while quickly explaining what is the purpose of this channel.
Another part of YouTube that has its own approach to videos, promotion, and branding is everything investment-related. The example above works quite well in making the visitor understand the purpose of this channel at a first glance – a laptop with a successful diagram, a slogan, and even a logo for this channel – all of those exist within the borders of an image and convey the message with simplicity.
Elevating your style
This example puts more on our second recommendation about the “safe area” by making the image with a correct aspect ratio and keeping everything remotely important inside of a 2560 x 423 pixels area in the middle. This makes the image perfectly natural for both people that can only see the middle area, as well as for TV owners that can see the entire image – and the CTA in the middle also compliments everything quite nicely in this cool YouTube banner.
Pretty much the only thing left to do is to create the banner for yourself. But that leaves us with one more question – what software can I use to create my own banner? Luckily enough, the number of competitors on the market of image editing software makes it so that you have a lot of choice in the first place.
Such software doesn’t have to be standalone, either – the entire market is full of user-friendly banner makers that can make the entire process quick and easy for you, without the requirement of image editing skills. Viewst is a good example of such a service, offering a versatile feature set when it comes to image editing, an abundance of templates and formats, and many other features that can help you with creating your own cool YouTube banner.
Victoria is the CEO at Viewst. She is a serial entrepreneur and startup founder. She worked in Investment Banking for 9 years as international funds sales, trader, and portfolio manager. Then she decided to switch to her own startup. In 2017 Victoria founded Profit Button (a new kind of rich media banners), the project has grown to 8 countries on 3 continents in 2 years. In 2019 she founded Viewst startup. The company now has clients from 43 countries, including the USA, Canada, England, France, Brazil, Kenya, Indonesia, etc.