Epic Meal Time. Michelle Phan. Peter McKinnon. When you think of each of these YouTube creators, what comes to mind? The feelings and thoughts you have are vastly different because each one of these channels has its own unique branding.
Epic Meal Time’s YouTube brand is in-your-face and intense. It pumps you full of adrenaline and increases your heart rate.
Michelle Phan’s YouTube brand is calm, whimsical, and aspirational.
The color palette she chose is pleasing to the eyes and doesn’t evoke any of the stress we get from Epic Meal Time.
They have different branding because they want to reflect different feelings for different audiences.
Bad Branding Causes Mistrust
When a branding element does not align with the message or the tone does not match with the material, then the audience is not going to trust what you offer. Without trust, you won’t be able to get the advocacy that is essential for a YouTube channel to grow.
Imagine Michelle Phan using the aggressive colors of Epic Meal Time or vice versa. Pretty weird, huh?
What is YouTube Branding?
You might think that branding simply comes together while making videos, but that’s not true. Branding takes a bit of preparation and foresight.
YouTube branding is the idea your viewers have in mind and the emotion they get when they think about your channel.
Here are notable elements of your channel’s branding:
- Channel name
- Channel art
- Video thumbnail
- Video title
- Style of video
How to Start Branding Your YouTube Channel?
Before you start designing thumbnails and coming up with a catchphrase, the first step in branding is understanding the purpose of your channel. Once you have a purpose, you will know how you want your viewers to feel.
Here is a quick exercise to find your channel’s purpose:
Draw a 3 circle Venn diagram.
In circle 1, write down everything you consider yourself an expert in.
- What do your friends know you for?
- What can you give advice on?
- What did you go to school to learn?
In circle 2, write down all the topics you are passionate about.
- What can you talk effortlessly about for hours?
- At a party, where do you lead conversations towards?
In circle 3, write down everything that people will pay for that you can supply. Here is where you find the demand of the audience.
- Can you give me travel advice?
- Can you make people forget about their stressful day?
- Do you have experience in a specialized field?
Understanding what people will pay money for will help guide you in creating content that has true value.
In the center, come up with all the ideas that can be associated with all three circles. This will be the ideal purpose for your YouTube channel as it harnesses your expertise, your passion, and the demand of a viewership.
Epic Meal Time
Expertise = Eating
Passion = Fast Food Culture
Demand = Unique Meals
PURPOSE: Showcase a unique combination of fast food people won’t make at home.
Expertise = Beauty Products
Passion = Makeup and Fashion
Demand = Beauty School
PURPOSE: Give people more confidence in beauty products.
How Is Your Channel Different From the Others?
Now that you have your purpose, it’s time to separate you from others with similar purposes. YouTube is a crowded space for content creators. If your channel is mimicking another more successful channel, you will be in the shadows.
If your name is Michelle Phan, and you are not the Michelle Phan, I’m sorry, but you will need to pick another name for your YouTube channel:
If you do have to pick another name or if your channel is an ensemble with multiple members, make sure the name you choose is original, memorable, and short (4 words max).
Picking an Icon
Not every YouTuber needs to design an original logo for their brand. In fact, if the channel is about you — the YouTuber — you are the brand, so using a high-quality picture of yourself as the icon is okay.
However, if your channel has a specific theme or topic and you want your branding to convey it so it sticks in the viewers’ heads, especially if it’s their first time viewing your channel. A clear logo will help in amplifying your message:
Create Video Thumbnails That Stand Out
The power of good branding is that your viewers will be able to spot your brand in a crowded space. On YouTube, the crowded space is the suggested video section.
Epic Meal Time thumbnails standing out amongst other loud thumbnails.
Once you have the feeling you want to evoke, test out different thumbnails. Go incognito, search up your videos, and see how the visuals appear beside your competitions. Do they all have the same style or is your far more impressive?
Good branding doesn’t happen in the first try so keep experimenting.
Designing Your Icon, Thumbnail, and Channel Art
There is a lot to consider when designing all the visual elements for your channel. I won’t get into all of it, but here are some tips that you should always keep in mind.
- Less is more: Don’t clutter your icons, thumbnails, or banner.
- Have a single focus: A channel and a video can have a lot of different topics, but the image can’t show everything a video can. Pick one important area and highlight that in the image.
- Quality matters: Your audience is savvier than ever. If they see a pixelated image, they will judge your channel poorly. That’s bad branding. Always use high-quality pictures.
- Make sure the color pops and the text is visible: Use eye-catching colors and visible text. This is a billboard, you have milliseconds to get people’s attention as they scroll past.
Want more resources for creating your channel’s visual elements? Yes? Well, we made this for you:
When a viewer finds your video and considers it pretty interesting, they will then go into your channel page to learn more. Here is where they make their decision: subscribe or not subscribe?
Consistent branding affirms the viewer that they are in the right place. Peter McKinnon’s brand is built upon his amazing photography, it only makes sense that his visual elements are awesome.
Peter McKinnon is best known for his photography and cinematography, and his branding amplifies that.
But Branding Is Not Designing, It’s A Feeling
Don’t get too caught up with a design.
Look at PewDiePie’s branding. You can argue that it is inconsistent and the design is not professional, but actually, his branding is spot on, because he is making you feel a certain way.
PewDiePie’s brand highlights its upbeat and unpredictable personality.
PewDiePie wants you to laugh. He is not branding his expertise like Peter McKinnon is, he’s branding his personality.
Consistent branding is about making the elements of your channel: channel art, logo, thumbnails, titles, etc. all harmonize together to evoke a sensation.
The humor in PewDiePie’s brand is consistent, even though his thumbnails don’t look like Philip DeFranco’s. It is up to you how you define consistency, and that will happen over time.
Philip DeFranco supplies commentary on current events with a satirical flair. Like a news broadcast, his branding and video format are consistent, while the daily news is different.
Inserting A Watermark
The main point of a watermark is to let the viewers know when they are watching your video that it is in fact your video.
Let’s be honest, YouTube content can all look the same, especially if you are making content that is quite general (like beauty or tech), so a watermark helps differentiate, so when viewers are ready to subscribe, they have an extra branding element connecting them to your channel.
Improvement Pill is a YouTube channel focused on inspiring and motivating its viewer to live a better life.
Above we see an example of a watermark from the YouTube channel Improvement Pill. You can see the watermark in the lower right-hand corner.
Improvement Pill is not the only channel that uses whiteboard animation to illustrate their story, and because of that, they need to set themselves apart. A watermark helps do that.
When a viewer lands on their video, the watermark gives the viewer another way to get more familiar with the channel, and if they are to scroll over the watermark a subscription button pops up.
Want to set up your subscription watermark? Here is a quick tutorial:
Coming Up With A Catchphrase
A catchphrase can be your greeting or sign off, but it doesn’t have to be an original line, it can simply be the way you say “hello.”
Check out some of the popular YouTuber’s catchphrases:
When coming up with a catchphrase that is connected to your channel’s branding remember how you want the viewer to feel. Do you want to leave them with a smile? Or do you want them to take action?
Final Thoughts On YouTube Branding
As you build and grow your YouTube channel, you can expand your purpose while still sticking within the overall theme. You might have started a channel that focused on the topic of nutrition, but as you grow, you will discover that your audience may also be interested in fitness tips or workout accessories as well. Take it slowly and grow with purpose.
Your branding doesn’t dictate the content you create, but it does affect how you go about making it.
Got more questions about branding your YouTube channel? Let us know in the comments below.
Shanoon Cox is a writer and a lover of all things video.