Among billions of YouTube videos and channels, how does a brand stand out on the buzzing platform? YouTube branding is a specific and complex task; getting it right means getting discovered. I’m going to run through the ins and outs of how to brand your Youtube channel to have you shining above competitors and connecting with target audiences on a whole new level.

YouTube is one of the most essential marketing tools and many studies show that videos are the preferred form of media for many consumers. Yet, building a brand on YouTube is often overlooked in comparison to other social media channels and platforms. Many worry the video platform is oversaturated or that making engaging content of this medium can prove too difficult and expensive. So, before jumping on the bandwagon, let’s work out the benefits of YouTube branding.

YouTube branding brings exposure

86% of businesses currently use the medium of video as a marketing tool; you should have a good reason if you don’t count your brand as one of these. One of YouTube’s biggest benefits is the brand exposure it offers with the opportunity to reach a global audience. Since Google owns YouTube, your videos on the one platform helps you reach more of your target audience on the other. This also optimizes your video’s visibility over the long term considering most social content on other platforms have a short shelf life of a few hours to a few days.

Youtube-themed illustration of influencer surrounded by Youtube icons & features
Illustration by OrangeCrush

YouTube also gives you important channel diversification, so you can reach the largest possible audience across different platforms. This larger visibility contributes to more lead generation since your content is reaching a larger audience of potential customers.

YouTube is a great platform for building your authority and credibility as a brand. In this article we will discuss how to successfully brand your Youtube channel and where you can incorporate elements of your brand identity. We will also discuss how you can optimize your visibility and SEO by using keywords that people search for to make it more likely for potential customers to find your videos and at the end of this article we will discuss different video content topics that can leverage the power of video to build trust with your audience.

How to brand your YouTube channel

Define your brand

As Julie Andrews in Sound of Music sings, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…”: step one is all about achieving a recognisable brand. This is regardless of whether you’re creating a brand through your YouTube channel or adding onto it with this new medium.

Take makeup vlogging; it’s a huge industry with new influencers popping up every week. YouTuber Jackie Aina has contoured her brand identity with her authentic personality and sense of humor. She dabs memes throughout each video tutorial, creating an inclusive, positive and humorous interaction with the beauty industry for viewers to enjoy. So, how do you implement a distinct, consistent and successful brand identity on YouTube?

Capture of vlogger Jackie Aina's YouTube channel that focuses on beauty
Jackie Aina makes learning makeup techniques an entertaining journey!

The lowdown on branding

At 99designs, we know branding. So let’s go over the basics of some key branding elements with links to learn more. To get the wheels turning on defining your brand, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are you as a company?
  • What makes you unique from other similar companies?
  • What is your mission statement? What gives you purpose?
  • What are your values?
  • Who is your ideal customer?

Next, apply the three B’s:

  • Your brand is the way the outside world perceives your company.
  • Your branding is the act of shaping a unique, distinctive brand; it’s the active practice of bringing a brand to life.
  • Your brand identity is the set of creative elements that feed into the branding process—like your website, social media and logo—that broadcast your values, purpose and message to your audience.

Learn how to master these elements and give your brand the best chance possible on YouTube; a strong identity is essential. Your brand identity encompasses several elements, such as your brand color palette, typography, logo, general imagery, brand voice and overall brand personality. Making a brand style guide is a convenient way to have all that information in one place and it’s essential to maintaining consistency. We’ll go over how these elements will come to play when honing in on your YouTube brand.

Build a YouTube channel

You’ll want to create a “Brand Account” on Google so that multiple users can log in as your business grows (and grows and grows). This means you’ll be able to open and manage multiple YouTube channels. You can also create a YouTube channel using your regular Google account, but only you can access it and may connect viewers to your personal email address.

Next, you’ll want to verify your account which will allow you to upload videos longer than 15 minutes and upload custom thumbnails for your videos. Keep your brand style guide to hand as you begin designing and uploading the visual elements of your YouTube presence.

Profile image

For your profile image you can use the same logo or headshot you use on your other social media channels or website to maintain brand consistency. Many influencers and those running their own channels may opt for a fun headshot that captures their personality and the personality of the brand, whereas larger companies or brands that focus more on the product or service may opt for a logo. Your image will appear in many places on your channel and in comments, so choose something engaging and visually appealing; make sure your target audience can relate to it.

kara and nate youtube channel profile image
Kara and Nate use a photo in which their smiling faces are clearly visible for their travel channel
brave wilderness channel profile image
Brave Wilderness has a bold and eye catching logo that captures the wild world of adventure.

Channel description

Your channel description should generally cover what to expect from your content and a posting schedule. Viewers are looking here to learn about who you are, so let your brand voice and overall personality really shine! This is also a great place to add relevant keywords and links to your website and social accounts.

Simone Giertz channel description
The brilliant and witty voice of Simone Giertz can be found in her channel description. It quickly gives you an idea of the content she makes, but she still manages to curse and mention poop. Hey, now you won’t be surprised!

Your channel and video descriptions should reflect the brand voice and personality of your brand identity. Ideally, they should exude a tone similar to the videos themselves. The descriptions should also be informative to first time viewers, so include links to your website and social media channels so folks will know how to find out more about your company and other services you offer.

Remember that YouTube is a video search engine and, just like Google, its videos results are ranked by titles, keywords, descriptions, and other factors.

Banner image

Your channel banner will look different on different platforms, such as desktop, mobile and tv so design an image large enough for all. Ideally you want the dimensions of 2560 x 1440 pixels with a safe zone of 1540 x 427 pixels, centered.

It’s yet another great place to implement your style guide and create a unique design complimenting your brand color palette. Your banner can include helpful info like your posting schedule, your business tag line or simply compliment your visual identity. It’s suggested to change your banner every week or month to keep your channel feeling fresh while staying timely with promoting your most recent videos or products.

Youtube banner size
Youtube banner size
Consider how your image will be cropped if you want to include a logo or text. Via Have Camera Will Travel.

Channel trailer

The trailer is the video featured on your channel homepage. You’ll want to attract new subscribers by making a good first impression with a fun teaser video. Your trailer should illustrate what your channel is about and why they should subscribe. You can simply display your most important or popular video to get more views. Or you can reflect information featured in your banner, like your latest campaign or product with a link to purchase or learn more in the video description. Be sure to write a good video description since it will be displayed alongside the video on your page.

Netflix’s YouTube channel features a trailer for one of their most recent shows with cross-promotion in their banner. The trailer description includes a link directly to the show. The different elements are all branded with the Netflix logo and typography so there is no confusion whose channel it is.

Netflix's YouTube channel layout
Netflix is working all the tools to their advantage!

Branding your YouTube videos

Video titles

The title of your video is your first impression to viewers and a key factor in optimizing YouTube’s algorithm. To boost SEO, include relevant keywords, preferably towards the beginning of the title and save things like the series name or number for the end. You can get hints from seeing what words people use to find your channel in the “Traffic Sources” in your YouTube Analytics.

YouTube allows for 70 characters, but it is recommended 60 or less so that your title is less likely to be cut off. There are many strategies for how to title your videos to get more clicks; like using capitalization, brackets and power words. Just don’t overdo it. Remember who your audience is and make your titles appealing to them.

Lindsay Ellis combines funny keyword-rich titles with clever original thumbnails so viewers not only get an idea for what the video is about, but are eager to learn more.

Video thumbnails

Thumbnails are usually the first thing viewers see of your video, so this is the most important place to let your brand shine! The better it looks, the greater the number of people who will click on your video and watch it. Not to mention, 90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails!

Create an image that’s 1280 by 720 pixels and includes your logo and your branding color palette. You’ll want to use a dynamic, eye-catching image that looks high quality in large and small mediums. This means you’ll have to ensure its dimensions are spot one: no cutting corners! Be sure to make your thumbnail visually appealing and expressive—including faces and additional text works great to capture viewers’ attention.

Daily Show thumbnail
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah includes their logo in each thumbnail with Trevor Noah’s face and an engaging yet informative image.
How Ridiculous thumbnail
You can bet I clicked on this just to watch that big yellow balloon pop! By How Ridiculous.

Video descriptions

Ideally your videos are popping up in searches of potential customers and should be enough to stand on their own and entice the viewer to subscribe or click through your other preferred CTA. When viewers come across your videos in a search, this is their first impression of your overall brand. Think about how each individual video captures your brand identity before being directed to your channel or website to learn more about your company.

When writing your video description, add the most engaging information in the beginning or a brief summary of the video before the Show More button (within the first three lines or roughly 300 characters). Where viewers click to see the full description you can add more information like the full story behind your video. This is a great place to include links to your website and social media channels to get people to learn more about your brand, feature products links, or links to other relevant videos and playlists.

Use the description to also include as many relevant keywords as possible to increase SEO, while still making it sound natural and without sounding too spammy. Watch out for ‘Keyword stuffing’, i.e. the trend of listing any and every possibly relevant keyword. It’s frowned upon and can get you dinged by YouTube.

This example from SEMrush effectively uses a keyword rich-description, includes links to their social channels and other useful resources on their site, and helpful timestamps in the video. Including timestamps in your video description is great for engagement because it lets viewers skip to the most relevant part of the video rather than leaving to find information elsewhere.

SEMrush video description
SEMrush was able to pack in their 5,000 character video description with helpful information and SEO optimized keywords without coming off as spammy.

Playlists

Playlists are not only a good way to organize your videos, they also give your viewer a snapshot of what your brand is all about and can showcase you as an expert on a topic and therefore a strong brand to follow. A playlist is a collection of videos that allows you to curate similar content so it’s easy to find both for viewers and for search engines. Playlists also prompt viewers to watch multiple videos in a single session—when one video ends, the next video in the playlist automatically begins.

Philosophy Tube playlists
Philosophy Tube showcases the wide range of knowledge on different philosophical subjects in their playlists.

You can create a playlist by finding the video you would like to add and click the “add to” tab underneath the video. If you’ve already created a playlist, select the playlist to which you want to add the video. If you are creating a new playlist, enter the title in the window below.

Channel sections

Sections are a way to arrange videos on your homepage and visually brand your channel. They help you organize the topics and series of your channel so viewers can get a sense of what you’re all about. To add a section, click “customize channel” on your homepage, scroll to the bottom and click “add a section.” From there you can feature one of your playlists or other featured videos. You can add up to ten sections of horizontal rows.

loadingreadyrun sections
You can use branded thumbnails to even further separate video themes into sections. By loadingreadyrun.

Building a following on YouTube

Developing a list of engaged followers on YouTube will help your channel grow. These viewers are already on-board with your brand and eager to watch each next video you publish. Having a large list of subscribers boosts the cycle of success, because more followers means more video play counts and watch time, which boosts your standing in the YouTube algorithm. Learning how to rock the YouTube algorithm is the biggest hurdle, but the best strong start is to create consistently great video content. Here’s a few more tips to building your followers on YouTube.

SEO optimization

We’ve gone over a couple steps to improve your SEO by adding keywords in all the right places and writing engaging titles and crafting eye-catching video thumbnails. This will help your videos show up in more searches and entice more followers.

It doesn’t hurt to ask

The easiest way to gaining more followers and subscribers is to just ask! There’s a reason why so many YouTube videos end with the host asking viewers to “like, share, and subscribe.” It’s because it works! Sometimes people need a helpful reminder.

Subscribe to Glove and Boots
Glove and Boots usually includes a direct ask to viewers to like and subscribe at the end of videos, in their endscreen or in their video descriptions. In this video’s endscreen, Mario and Fafa tell viewers how to subscribe and hear about new videos.

Engaging followers

The most important part of social media is engagement, but it goes both ways. If you build relationships with your viewers, they’re more likely to keep coming back to watch your latest videos. Respond to video comments, follow back their channels, ask for suggestions, run a contest or do surveys.

Creating branded YouTube content

When you start developing your video content, think back again to the elements that define your brand. What are your company’s values and mission? Who are your ideal viewers? What will make you stand apart from the other YouTube channels? These questions will help define your niche and video style for your YouTube channel branding. If you have an existing brand, answering these will ensure continuity between mediums.

Disney’s Lady and the Tramp
Disney creates video content specifically for the platform like the retelling of their classic stories with emojis to give a modern feel that’s in-touch with today’s young YouTube user.

Turning blogs into videos

If your website already has a blog, you can easily use this content to get started making videos for your YouTube channel! Use the blog as a script and record audio of yourself discussing the main points in the blog post. Or you can make videos to expand on certain points that might use clarification or a demonstration of more difficult concepts. You can then have an editor make the visual elements more appealing, use video creation resources like Unsplash, Pexels Video and HookSounds, or simply record a Powerpoint slideshow video.

The (green) thumb rule

When making video content, it’s a good idea to create topical videos as well as evergreen ones. A good rule of thumb is 80% evergreen, 20% topical. Topical content is key because it is usually timely and needs to be consumed right away, or close to it. Create videos with your stand on the latest political fiasco or celebrity dramas to contribute to the internet discourse that your fans will want to watch immediately. Then they will want to subscribe to be notified of the next hot take!

Become a trusted authority

Build your credibility with viewers and potential customers by creating authentic and personal content. Once you have a good amount of videos on your channel, you can spend your time promoting those videos in different ways. This is one of the benefits of YouTube over other social channels where you have to continuously create new and engaging content.

Get the ball rolling with:

  • Creating customer testimonial videos
  • Spotlighting members of your team
  • Taking a look behind-the-scenes
  • Showcasing user-generated content
WWE behind the scenes
WWE uses their channel to put a spotlight on their stars with a special behind the scenes series which has increased their fan engagement.

Ride the wave with YouTube branding

Over the past couple of years, video has risen to become the medium of choice for many brands and influencers going digital. So there’s no time like the present to hop on board and launch a YouTube channel. Be original, relatable to your audience and savvy with your use of keywords to avoid sinking below competitors. If you keep our tips in mind, you’re sure to attract and build connections with like-minded followers!

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