What Makes a Good Custom Thumbnail

As we explored in this previous blog post, a video’s thumbnail is a really important aspect for getting your effort viewed by as many pairs of eyeballs as possible.

Sadly, however, it’s still a massively overlooked one too – with many people assuming that if the video content itself is strong, everything else will follow.

The issue is that here in 2019, YouTube is like your local nightclub when it’s “Pints for a Quid” night and that “Beast” guy from ‘The Chase’ is making a guest appearance: crowded.

This intense competition for views means that just making a great video is no longer enough for it to gain traction on the site.

Instead, you have to do the grubby stuff as well – including making a good custom thumbnail for your video that’s going to catch as many eyes as possible.

But what makes a good custom thumbnail? Well, here’s a few thoughts from us on that very question…


We may be all different, but one of the things us humans have in common is that our eyes tend to be drawn to an image rather than its accompanying text.

As Mike explains in our video above, this means that having the title of your video actually in its thumbnail image is a great way to catch someone’s eye.

You’ll want this title to be in a nice, bold font to really make it stand out, but do try to make sure it’s like Kylie Minogue – short and sweet. Too much text will overload the image!


As we explained in another previous blog post there’s a right way and a wrong way to get video views – and going all “clickbaity” is definitely the wrong way.

Your custom thumbnail must be relevant!

This doesn’t mean that your thumbnail HAS to be taken from the video itself. If it is, that’s great, but it’s not a necessity.

What your thumbnail should be however is a true representation of the video itself and what it is.

If your thumbnail is misleading, that will annoy people, which in the long term will result in a loss of trust and harm to your brand.


So your thumbnail A) Has the video’s title within it and B) Is relevant. That’s great, but is it eye-catching enough?

A thumbnail featuring a white background and a title is fine, but as we like to say, “OK is not OK”!

Think about how you could freshen up the thumbnail to make it stand out from the competition.

Perhaps you could change the colour of the background, or have some fun with an included image:

Is this attention grabbing enough?!

Remember – providing you’re not deliberately misleading people there’s nothing wrong with making your thumbnail a little bit wacky or different.


Finally, be aware of dimensions!

After spending a bit of time creating a brilliant thumbnail, the last thing you want to do is make it go all blurry at the implementation stage because it’s in the wrong dimensions for what you’re uploading it to.

For YouTube, thumbnails should be 1280 x 720 pixels with a minimum width of 640 pixels and have a ratio of 16:9.

It’s easy to forget about this so we’re reminding you so that you don’t fall at the final hurdle!


So, that’s what we think makes a good custom thumbnail. If after watching/reading our thoughts you decide that you want a great thumbnail for your video, but don’t have the time/energy to make it yourself – guess what?

Yes, that’s right – we can help!

Just cross our palms with silver and we’ll see what we can do for you…

Take a look at our work...

Found what you're looking for? Get a Quote!