When you think about YouTube, a place where 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute, all that pops up in your head is ‘video’. But YouTube isn’t just about videos, images play an important role too. They can help you with both, beautifying your channel and accomplishing your goals, whether that is to generate more views, traffic or subscribers.

So, today I have put together a quick guide on all the images you need to create for your YouTube channel...

Profile image:

You should keep the profile image simple and just use your logo or an image with your company name. But if you are a vlogger or if your brand is represented by you as an individual, you should simply just upload a headshot. Make sure the profile image you use for your YouTube channel is the same one you use on other social networks and on your website header. As this will make it easy for people to recognize your channel.

Banner image:

The banner is the cover image that appears right across the top of your YouTube channel. You can mainly use it in two ways. One is for branding purposes, where you simply create an image designed with your brand colours and company name or logo like this one from The New York Times.

As you can see it is black and white in colour just like the logo. The name ‘The New York Times’ appears in big letters.

The other option is to use it for promotional purposes where you either promote your channel’s videos or your products. An example is the below screenshot from The Dodo where they inform you that they publish a video daily and in which categories/topics.

It is a really clever way of making use of the banner. It can attract subscribers who want to watch these videos.

Thumbnail image:

If you want to generate more views on YouTube you should spend a lot of time creating unique and attractive thumbnails. The more inviting your thumbnail looks, the more number of people will click on it and watch your videos.

You should always start the thumbnail creation process with a good background image. The ideal YouTube thumbnail image size is 1280 X 720 pixels.

So, find a good attractive background image that will stand out in the feed. Next, add details like your logo and the title of the video to it as it can generate curiosity and get people to click on the video and watch it. But be careful to follow a brand pattern, by using the same brand font and colours in all your thumbnails.

For some ideas on how to create better thumbnail images checkout National Geographic’s YouTube channel. They follow a pattern for their thumbnail design. The videos have the logo in the top left corner. They also add a yellow line to the right side of the thumbnail as it is their brand colour.

The don’t add the video title to the thumbnail, but they add the title of the series. And they follow the same font style for the entire series.

Here’s are the thumbnails for The Incredible Doctor Pol Series. The background image is different for each video, but the font style and the text are the same.

Here are the thumbnails for their Untamed series. The font style is different from Dr. Pol’s. But all the videos in the series have the same font style.

Here’s a more detailed guide on how to create a YouTube thumbnail.

End Card image:

The end card consists of the popups that appear at the end of the video. They usually ask you to subscribe to the page or watch another video or playlist. Sometimes channels even include links to their website or a promotion for another channel.

Most channels directly add the end card to the already moving video, but I recommend that you create a still image and then place the popup elements over it. As this will reduce distractions and get people to take action. You can create this image by using a YouTube end card template or by creating a unique end card from scratch by using a background image.

After you create it you should add this image to the last 5 to 20 seconds of the video, as that is how long the end card can be. You can then upload the video onto YouTube and add your end card elements.

You can add 5 types of elements. These are video, playlist, website link, subscribe button and channel button (as you can promote a channel other than your own). Don’t add all of them as too many choices can confuse people. Just add two to three elements.

The elements you use should depend on your goals. If you want to get more views you should promote more videos and playlists, while if you want subscribers and traffic you should add a subscribe button and a link.

You can also set the appearance timing. As aforementioned they can last for 5 to 20 seconds (before the end). A good example of an end card is this one from The Dodo.

It has a beautifully designed still background image. And they have only added two elements, a video and a subscribe button.

They also added two call to actions. One asks you to like, comment and subscribe and the other ones asks you to checkout the video.


These are the 4 images every YouTube channel must have. Images like the profile image and banner are best used for branding. While the thumbnail and end card are better suited for generating views, subscribers and traffic.

Author bio: Mitt Ray is the founder of Social Marketing Writing where you can download 100 free social media background images.

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