The Ultimate Guide to Branding Your YouTube Channel

The Ultimate Guide to Branding Your YouTube Channel

YouTube has an incredible amount of monthly logged-in users—not counting those who use the platform without accessing a specific account. Therefore, it makes sense that marketers use YouTube to build their social media presence.

However, brands have steep competition in their quest to get their videos noticed by their target audience—making effective branding necessary. This article will cover what you need to know about branding your YouTube channel including:

Why branding is important for your YouTube channel

When you have a well-branded YouTube channel, viewers know what they can expect through key messaging and content strategy. They know they can trust the information you provide and that the information generally interests them. You’ll find that as you incorporate branding into your YouTube strategy, it will provide a few key benefits:

  • Helps attract your target audience by associating your name with videos that interest them
  • Makes your business memorable
  • Can distinguish your brand from your competitors
  • Creates a consistent experience for users, which they can come to trust
  • Allows you to build a relationship with customers, further engaging them across other online platforms

As you begin to build your YouTube brand, you’ll need to focus on several areas at once so that you can create the best possible YouTube experience for viewers. Fortunately, Upwork has independent YouTube marketing professionals ready to help with branding-related tasks for YouTube.

Where to focus your YouTube channel branding

There are several key places on your business’s YouTube channel where branding can be particularly effective. However, before you get started, consider if your organization will benefit from a Brand Account on YouTube. A Brand Account can provide your business with a few benefits, including the ability to:

  • Separate your YouTube account from your Google account
  • Give people access to the YouTube channel without also giving them access to your personal Google account
  • Manage multiple channels from one account

To create a Brand Account, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your YouTube account
  2. Select your channel list
  3. Select that you want to “Create a new channel”
  4. Fill in the information that you want to have associated with the Brand Account

Once you have your account set up, you can begin the process of optimizing it.

1. Channel name

Your channel name is displayed prominently on your channel homepage. It also appears under your videos when people find them in their list of suggested videos. Your channel name should align with the name you use across the rest of your social media platforms and website. This can help customers recognize you, build familiarity with your brand, and encourage them to click the subscribe button because they want more content from you.

2. Channel icon

You may also want to think about creating a channel icon. This essentially serves as your YouTube profile picture. This appears as you engage with viewers, such as when you respond to comments people make on your videos.

The ideal icon size is 800 x 800 pixels to allow for maximum clarity. Your icon should include your YouTube logo and your brand or channel name. This will help create a consistent visual for your channel. You can see how we constructed our Upwork channel icon below.

Channel icon

3. Channel art

Your channel art, or channel banner, provides an excellent opportunity to capture the attention of channel visitors. This image should convey a bit about your brand the minute visitors encounter it. Including a tagline, your brand colors, and core information about your brand can be helpful.

Here’s how we style our Upwork banner image:

Channel art

Note that the best sizing for your channel banner is about 2560 x 1440 pixels. This will help you create a crisp image that looks good stretched across the top of the channel page.

4. Channel links

On your YouTube channel, you can also include links to other profiles, such as your main website and social media pages. These links can encourage page visitors to engage with your organization on other channels.

90% of consumers say they make purchases from the brands they follow on social media while 40% of people say they make purchases after they see a similar item on social media. In other words, increasing your visibility on different social media platforms and encouraging viewers to follow you can influence their buying decisions.

Channel links appear in the corner of your banner art. Here’s how we styled ours:

Channel links

5. Channel description and channel trailer

The channel description is the “about” section of your page. This allows you to introduce your business to channel visitors and try to interest them in watching your videos and learning more about the products or services you offer.

As you write your description, include the most important information in the beginning since not every visitor will read to the very end. It’s also important to incorporate keywords that customers might use to find you. Above all, make your description informative so that visitors come away feeling you’re a good source of information about your industry.

Here’s Upwork’s channel description, as an example:

Channel description

6. Channel trailer

You can also create a brief channel trailer that introduces your business and your channel. This trailer should be short —best practices indicate about a minute long—and let people know what to expect when they watch your videos. As you create your trailer, assume that the people watching it are new to your content and your brand. Provide them with information about you and the type of videos you create, letting them know right from the beginning why they should watch your material.

7. Channel URL

Your channel URL is how visitors reach your YouTube channel. You want this URL to be easy to remember so that customers can type it in rather than searching for your videos or only stumbling onto them.

However, you’ll need to meet a few requirements established by YouTube to get a custom URL for your channel:

  • You have to have at least 100 subscribers.
  • Your channel must have banner art and a profile picture.
  • The channel must have also been around longer than 30 days.

If you can, try to get a URL that simply expresses your channel name. It is clear, well-branded, and easy to remember. Here’s how Upwork’s URL looks on YouTube:

Channel URL

8. Video end cards/outros and watermarks

At the end of your video, you have the chance to embed links that can take visitors to a particular destination. These are known as end cards and don’t interrupt the viewing or functionality of the rest of the video. YouTube allows you to use end cards to:

  • Take viewers to another video
  • Invite viewers to subscribe to your channel
  • Promote a channel
  • Link to your website or certain approved sites (if you’re part of the YouTube Partner Program)

These end cards encourage engagement from your viewers. However, focus on promoting YouTube content that is highly likely to interest users based on the video they just watched. For example, linking to another video about a similar topic can keep them engaged with your channel and encourage them to see you as an authority. You can see how we use features like this to nurture viewership in this screenshot:


You can also create a customized watermark that encourages people to subscribe to your channel. The interactive button makes it easy for viewers to subscribe to your channel when using YouTube on a computer. You can have the watermark appear for the last 15 seconds of the video, start at a customized time, or show through the entire video.

9. Video thumbnails

Your video thumbnail serves as a preview to entice people to watch your content. You can use a thumbnail that YouTube generates or upload your own. In either scenario, your goal is to have an appealing visual that lets people know important information about the video and encourages them to click and watch.

There are also a couple of branding opportunities across your thumbnails. You may decide to use a consistent theme in your thumbnails, such as by using related images of people in similar positions or by using similar colors. A template that introduces important information about the video can create a consistent experience.

Just make sure the thumbnail looks appealing and encourages people to click to learn more about what you’ve created. You can see Upwork’s thumbnail branding here:


10. Video playlists

You can also create playlists that will help viewers get the most out of your channel. Playlists allow you to group videos by subtopic so that people interested in a particular type of information can easily view everything your business has to say.

A well-constructed playlist encourages people to watch several YouTube videos in a row as they learn more about their desired topic. This deepens their relationship with the brand, as customers begin to see the brand as a trusted authority.

Create playlists by considering the pain points that customers come to you to solve and the topics they express the most interest in. See how these topics can be grouped to help you tap into customer interests and needs:


4 best practices for branding your YouTube channel

Effective YouTube branding should be a coordinated effort that incorporates the videos you produce, how you set up your channel, and how you engage across the rest of your social networks. Here are some best practices for those who want to take their YouTube channel further.

1. Stay consistent

Consistency is key to branding. You want your channel to have continuity and a cohesive feel across all elements of your page and the videos you create. This helps to boost visitors’ recognition of your brand. You also want visitors to recognize your brand on other platforms, so make sure the images, language, and colors you use on YouTube match what you employ on other social media channels.

2. Add relevant information

As you create your YouTube channel, focus on including helpful information. You want to make sure YouTube can understand what your channel is about, which is why you want to include keywords. YouTube has its own algorithm that ranks videos. It relies on search engine optimization (SEO) practices to understand and organize videos, just like a typical search engine. You also want to entice visitors to become subscribers.

Your information helps create:

  • An impression of your brand and personality
  • Key insight about the value of your brand
  • An idea of why users should watch your videos and subscribe
  • Why customers should trust what you have to say.

However, note that all your content doesn’t need to be an overt promo for your business. Creating videos and posting information that you know will interest and engage your target audience will benefit your growth, as well.

3. Select a niche and stick to it

Some companies look at YouTube as a chance to fill every need for everyone. They create and post videos for nearly any initiative they can conceive, even if the topic only tangentially relates to their business and targets pain points. Remember that your videos and overall branding efforts revolve around enticing new customers.

Creating random YouTube videos that attract clicks and views from people outside of your target audience will do little good. Additionally, if your videos jump around too much, people will have fewer opportunities to engage with your brand and build a relationship, as you won’t have content on a particular topic of interest.

Instead, stick to your expertise and create videos that will interest your target audience. Select a particular niche and stick to it. For example, if you are in skin care, focus on creating videos that emphasize your skin care knowledge, products, and insight. Videos about hotels will not target the right audience.

4. Utilize experts to help with YouTube branding

For many businesses getting started on YouTube, focusing on branding while still creating enticing, click-worthy videos can be overwhelming. Fortunately, Upwork can connect you to experts who specialize in YouTube marketing and channel branding. These independent professionals—whether you need graphic designers, video editors, or YouTube SEO experts—can help you create a channel that will serve your brand well moving forward.

Make the most of your YouTube branding

As you start building your YouTube channel, leading with a strong branding campaign will help amplify your success. Use these features to let customers know more about your brand and what you have to offer. See how YouTube branding can help you today.


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Author Spotlight

The Ultimate Guide to Branding Your YouTube Channel
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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