Making the Best Out of Your YouTube Banner

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Maybe you’ve been operating your own YouTube channel for a while but your banner image needs a refresh; maybe you’re new to the platform and have no idea how to make a YouTube banner. Maybe you’ve just arrived on planet Earth and haven’t even had time to set up your YouTube channel.  

In any case, an eye-catching and up-to-date banner at the top of your YouTube page is a pro move you’ll want to return to as you build out your channel.


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Why make a banner for YouTube?

A YouTube channel banner is an essential part of your self-presentation on the platform. In addition to being someone’s first introduction to your brand, your banner art also gives you an opportunity to provide a snapshot of your content. As a result, while you certainly can use a YouTube banner template, you’re much better off creating your own custom YouTube banner, even if it’s on the simpler side.

Three key elements of YouTube banners

A YouTube banner should hit the following specs:

  1. Size. The minimum YouTube banner size is 2048 x 1152, but it should ideally be sized or cropped to 2560 x 1140.
  2. A well-situated safe area. Since your banner will be viewed on multiple platforms and devices, the middle 1546 x 423 portion of it (a.k.a. the safe area) is the part that you can be sure will be visible across all viewing options.
  3. On-brand design. A consistent brand that is unique and eye-catching (but not cheesy) will help establish yourself and your channel on the platform. The logo colors and other visual elements you feature on your banner should feel consistent with the perspective and tone of the rest of your content.

Three tips for designing your YouTube banner

Once you have a sense of the limitations and defining traits of your banner, it’s time to put your design skills (or your hired designer’s design skills) to work. Here’s how to think through the various components of your banner:

  1. Keep your color palette in mind. When designing YouTube banners, it’s important to remember that you’re creating a multi-use image. It needs to be both legible and appealing whether it’s on someone’s TV, their phone, or their laptop. As a result, when you’re choosing colors, make sure they’re bright and welcoming even if your overall palette may be darker. 
  2. Craft the right copy. Remember to leave space for the actual name of your channel. But that doesn’t mean your channel name needs to take up a sizable portion of your banner—even if it is really clever and amazing. The words you use to communicate what your channel is all about are just one part of the overall effect.
  3. Less is more. Your channel likely has a story, a theme—convey that in your banner with a few central focal points. Some of the best YouTube banners contain a simple image that relates to the channel. For example, a picture of some airplane tails if your channel is about airplane-tail art, or perhaps a flat lay photo of your favorite books if you’re trying to break into BookTube.

How to upload your banner to YouTube

It might take you a while to settle on a banner image (especially if you’re starting from scratch) but uploading the finished product to the platform is very easy.

1. Navigate to the “Customization” section of your channel dashboard and click on the “Branding” tab.

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2. Click the “UPLOAD” button in the “Banner image” section of the Branding page and select an image, keeping in mind the dimensions. This will bring you to the in-site YouTube banner maker. Use it to adjust your framing using the guidelines provided, then click the “DONE” button.

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When you’re happy with your image and your framing, click the “PUBLISH” button in the upper right, and you’ll be good to go.

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How to add social media icons to your YouTube banner

You can add up to five links to the bottom right corner of your YouTube cover banner, making it a great place to link out to your other accounts. Here’s how:

1. Click on your account photo in the upper right and click on “YouTube Studio” from the dropdown menu.

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2. Click on the “Customization” button on the left side of your channel dashboard.

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3. Navigate to the “Basic info” tab.

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4. Scroll down to the “Links” section and click on “ADD LINK.” From there, enter the name of the social media platform you’re linking to under “Link title” and the URL of your profile in “URL.”

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5. Finally, once you’ve added at least one link, you’ll have the option in the “Links in banner” section directly underneath to decide which links will appear on your cover image.

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Final thoughts

It’s easy to forget about the details of your channel as you continue to post content, but as you develop your brand, you should also make adjustments to your banner to make sure everything works in lockstep. An effective banner is more than just a throwaway stock photo—it’s how you welcome new viewers into your world.

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Written by
Written by
Lara Unnerstall

Video Producer at Descript. Filmmaker, writer, and dog weirdo.

Descript is a collaborative audio/video editor that works like a doc. It includes transcription, a screen recorder, publishing, and some mind-bendingly useful AI tools.
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Lara Unnerstall

Video Producer at Descript. Filmmaker, writer, and dog weirdo.

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