When it comes to your YouTube channel banner, you can take a great deal of guidance directly from any marketing 101 advice available on the Internet.
You want something eye-catching yet not overpowering—something that conveys the purpose of your channel in the purest, most digestible form possible, and gets the message across quickly.
Your YouTube banner tells new visitors to your channel what you are about, and in more ways than you might think. It can give subtle cues to your potential viewers that you might not have intended to give.
The banner on your channel is unlikely to be the first impression someone gets of your channel, but that doesn’t make it unimportant.
We’re going go into detail about some YouTube channel banner ideas, explaining why they work, and who they can work for. But first, let’s talk a little about why banners are so important.
Why are YouTube Banners Important?
A common—and incorrect—way to think of a YouTube banner is like a storefront. If you were running a brick and mortar store, you would want the sign out front to draw in passing shoppers where they would hopefully spend money on your products and services.
That is not what a YouTube banner is. Your channel is not a storefront in that sense, as very few people will come across it organically. You could funnel people to your channel page from other sources, such as your website, but then, if you can do that, you have already grabbed that person’s attention in some way.
In truth, hardly any of the visitors to your channel will arrive there not knowing anything about you. If someone is looking at your channel page, they will almost certainly have seen at least one of your videos already. In fact, the typical behaviour of a YouTube viewer is to subscribe to channels they are interested in from the video itself.
A good deal of your subscribers might never see your channel page at all! And for those who visit your channel that are already subscribed, the banner is less critical, since they are already on board.
For the most part, non-subscribers who visit your channel are people who have seen one or two of your videos and are on the fence about whether to subscribe to your channel or not. These are the people your banner is really for since they are the ones who could potentially hit subscribe—or not—based on what they see when they land on your channel.
Dos and Don’ts
As with many creative endeavours, there isn’t really a hard list of things you must do to succeed.
We could lay out a comprehensive set of rules that would be true for 99% of YouTubers out there, and there would undoubtedly be someone who breaks all of them and is a wild success. Bear that in mind when reading these dos and don’ts.
One of the first things that will strike new visitors to your channel is how professional your channel banner looks. Does it look like it was made by a graphics designer who takes pride in their work? Or does it look like five minutes spent in Microsoft Paint?
Having a professional banner shows that you care about your channel, which tells potential subscribers that you take things seriously.
Nobody wants to subscribe to a channel in the hope of future content, only for that content never to come, or for the channel to get shut down by YouTube because of unnecessary community guideline strikes. It is a subtle cue, but if your banner suggests you might be a bit frivolous with your channel, they might decide against clicking that subscribe button.
If a non-subscriber visits your channel page while deciding whether or not to subscribe, one of the first things they are going to want to know is information about your channel.
We would recommend an accurate and up to date “about” page for this reason, but before they get to that point, they will see your channel banner.
Having relevant information in your channel banner is a great way to get the essential details across to potential subscribers quickly. For example, do you have a regular upload schedule? Many viewers like to know that they are subscribing to a channel that puts out new content on a regular basis. It can also help to state—in as concise a way possible—what kind of content your channel produces.
One of the main things potential subscribers will be looking for is the assurance that there will be more of the type of content that brought them there in the first place.
Establishing an identity on YouTube is an essential step towards success, as it puts you or your organisation in people’s minds. This is especially important if you are running more than just a YouTube channel. If you have developed branding, it should be clear for all to see on your channel page, which means in your YouTube banner.
This does not simply mean having any logos or icons in the banner.
Make full use of any colour schemes that are part of your branding. If you have a website that has been styled in red and white, consider making your banner red and white also.
Of course, the logos and icons should be incorporated, but don’t stop at that. These subtle visual cues can be very effective, and help to establish your brand so that it can be recognised in other places, and hopefully associated with some good YouTube content.
Represent Your Niche
One thing that can be overlooked surprisingly often is the inclusion of themes that are relevant to a channel’s niche in the channel banner. This may come in the form of a game controller motif on a channel about gaming, or dumbells in the banner of a fitness channel.
Things like this offer quick visual cues that reassure viewers as to what the channel is about. To that end, you should avoid including anything that might confuse the issue, and this is where things can get a little nuanced.
As an example, say you are running a YouTube channel about programming video games. You could include the game controller motif we mentioned above, but that might confuse some people, leading them to think the channel is about gaming. Think carefully about the themes you include in your banner, even if they seem relevant, and try to avoid incorporating things purely because they “look cool” unless they fit with the content you produce.
YouTube Channel Banner Ideas
We promised you some ideas, so let’s get into those now. Here we will show a few different common styles of channel banner, highlighting the common themes in these styles and giving a few examples along the way.
The Informative Banner
You don’t want your banner to be a wall of text, but carefully dropping relevant information in there is a great way to give new viewers all they need in one quick glance.
The most obvious information to slot in here is the upload schedule, as it is something that viewers generally want to know, and can be conveyed clearly and concisely. One example of this is popular vlogger, David Dobrik.
David’s banner clearly states that he puts out new videos a few times a week, what days he puts those videos out, and even manages to fit his social media in there. All of this without making the banner look cluttered.
Another excellent example of this is gaming YouTuber, Barbara, whose banner not only conveys the upload schedule, the time of day, the type of videos but even incorporates art themes from the game she plays most.
While this may not mean much to many viewers, the viewers who know the game and want to see that type of content will recognise it instantly.
Note that in both of these examples, the YouTuber themselves are the brand, and they have made sure they appear in their banner.
The Straight to the Point Banner
If your channel has a specific aim in mind and a no-frills approach to getting there, you may want to take a similar tact with your channel banner. A good example of this is Mango Street, a YouTube channel that offers photography and video tutorials.
In Mango Street’s banner, you see a nicely shot photograph of the YouTubers themselves, illustrating what it is they do on the channel. You get their logo, and you get the tagline; “Photography + filmmaking tutorials that don’t waste your time”. And, in perfect keeping with that ethos, the banner doesn’t waste your time either.
While it may not set out the upload schedule for you, it does tell you everything you need to know about the content of the channel, as well as fitting in the branding and even an example of their work in the form of that photograph.
The Quirky Banner
Even a banner that seemingly contains no useful information at all tells viewers something about your channel. For example, incredibly popular YouTuber, MrBeast, has a channel banner that is plain white text on a featureless black background, with the text simply reading, “subscribe with notifications or i will take all your cookies”.
Of course, there is a call to action in there, demanding that people subscribe to the channel, but it is clearly a tongue in cheek statement.
This banner says a lot about the tone you can expect from the channel, which is playful, and a little cheeky. Granted, it tells you nothing about the type of content you will get, but it tells you how that content will be delivered.
A banner like this is ideal for a channel where the YouTuber’s personality is a significant factor in their success. With channels like that, people tend to subscribe for the YouTuber more than the content, and would likely watch a video from them regardless of what the video is about.
The Plug Banner
We don’t have an example of this because, by its very nature, these banners change often. The plug banner is a banner that includes information about upcoming events that the YouTuber will be involved in. The most obvious examples of this are musicians or comedians who have live shows coming up.
This kind of banner should include any branding—such as a band logo or a headshot—as well as the dates of the event that you are promoting. Sometimes the channel exists purely as a promotional tool, such as would be the case for an established band who just need somewhere to upload videos. In those cases, it will likely not be a great example of how to put your banner together.
If you are a YouTuber, however, you should include some hint as to what it is you do. If Eminem is promoting a tour, he can just have his face and some dates on the channel banner, and that would be enough. But if you are an up and coming comedian, you should give some indication of that in the banner, so new viewers know what they are getting from your channel.
Don’t Do This!
When looking for the key to success on any platform, it is natural to look at other people who have been successful there and try to emulate what they do. And, on YouTube, it doesn’t get more successful than PewDiePie. Having broken countless YouTube records, and currently being the most-subscribed individual on the platform, PewDiePie is easily the most successful YouTuber in history.
PewDiePie’s immense success allows him something of a free pass when it comes to how he runs his channel. We’re not saying he doesn’t have to work at his content, but he could probably upload twenty minutes of a blank screen with no audio and still get millions of views.
This translates to his channel banner as well. Other than a slight nod to the black and red wavey lines that are associated with PewDiePie, there is nothing in his banner that tells new viewers anything about the channel or type of content you would find on there.
However, this can work for PewDiePie because, at this point, the chances of someone being on YouTube and not knowing who he is are pretty slim. But you shouldn’t do this when you’re just starting out.
If you need ideas for banners or you are like me and just want to start with a template, check out placeit – they have a wide selection of templates on their website for banners, intros, end cards and more