Video thumbnails are one of the most underutilized facets of video marketing. With YouTube now rolling out the capability for all partners to upload custom thumbnails, it's going to become even more important to create thumbnails that set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd.  Additionally, there are now unique opportunities to create custom branded thumbnails which not only help you stand out, but can provide another way of maintaining your brand presence on YouTube.

Big YouTube rock-stars like ijustine have been creating very loud and in your face thumbnails for many years. They realized that if your video pops out, the natural reaction is for people to click. I would rather poke my eyes out than click on neon colored thumbnails, but 256 million views don’t just happen because you’re blond.

iJustine | Justine Ezarik

iJustine | Justine Ezarik - http://www.youtube.com/ijustine

Custom Branded YouTube Thumbnails = ▲Views + Exposure

I work as the online marketing manager for a B2B company that sells asset tracking and barcode scanning solutions, Wasp Barcode Technologies. We've put a lot of focus into our YouTube marketing strategy and we've seen great success but we're always looking for ways to improve our exposure on YouTube.  So, recently, we decided to try a new approach for our custom YouTube thumbnails.  Our goal was to see if we could come up with a way of exposing our brand (logo, color scheme, etc...) within search results, related videos, etc...  We wanted to create thumbnails that popped and promoted our brand but weren't in your face or extremely unattractive.

So, as you can see in the thumbnail at the top of this post, we decided to add the yellow Wasp branded bar and logo (shown to the right) on the right of each action packed thumbnail so that our brand would become a bigger part of our overall video marketing presence.  How did this work for us?

Video Views Increased From Day 1

As you can see, since implementing these new custom branded thumbnails into our youtube videos and playlists, our video views have increased by almost double both from search results as well as related videos.  The chart to the left shows our video views 3 days before branded thumbnail integration versus 3 days after implementation.

The following shows how these changes appear within 5 areas of YouTube.

Branded Thumbnails - Video Search

Having a unique thumbnail branding in search can really set you apart from your competition. Notice that even though Wasp shows up #2 and #3 they are visually as powerful as the first result.

Branded Thumbnails - Related Videos

Having a unique thumbnail branding with related videos will show your viewers who you are very easily.

Branded Thumbnails - YouTube Channel

Below is a great example of how custom icons can promote brand awareness on your YouTube channel page.

Branded Thumbnails - Playlists

Having custom icons in playlists really sets your videos apart and helps people to easily know where to click to find your videos.

Here's an example of an embedded playlist with thumbnails

Branded Thumbnails - Trueview Ads

As you can see tying your paid ads with your organic results can greatly improve the brand trust on a YouTube search.

Summary

Be creative, standout and custom branded icons can really pay off with more views.

Please browse our YouTube channel and lets us know what you think about our new thumbnail branding - http://www.youtube.com/waspbarcode

  • http://meancreativity.com/ Mason Pelt

    This has been online for more than a year and it's still highly relevant. One of the best post I've seen on video marketing to date.

  • http://www.storystoremedia.com/ Corey Petree

    What a great way to spread branding across the page, Jeremy. Thumbnails are under-rated in importance IMHO. Because they're a large part of the decision point between hitting "back" on the browser or "play" on a video, the more intriguing they can be, the better. Nice application of a great idea. Thanks for the thoughtful and thorough post.