Professional Design Tips for Your VOD Library Thumbnails

March 29, 2021

When you’re creating high-quality videos for your video-on-demand service, the goal is to generate and engage a large audience for your video content, right?

Creating visually appealing and eye-catching video thumbnails is one great way to start building that audience and reeling them into viewing your video content.

Not only that, but it entices them into becoming loyal paying subscribers who come back to view your content again and again.

When you create bright, beautiful video thumbnails that create clear expectations as to what’s inside the video, your audience is going to be excited to tune in.

We’re not talking about those clickbaity thumbnails that tease one small bit in your video but don’t accurately represent what the full video is about.

Instead, we’re talking about visually appealing, clear, and concise video thumbnails that authentically represent your brand.

Let’s dive into our top design tips to ensure your video thumbnails are working to increase your paying subscribers and generate views and engagement.

1. Use a Still Shot from Your Video

You want a clear representation of your video content to be shown within your thumbnail. The best way to do that is to use a still shot from your video as the main focal point of your video thumbnail.

Grab a screenshot that is high-quality and not blurry to use as your video thumbnail, like you see in the example below.

Find What Feels Good thumbnails

You can see in each of the video thumbnails at the bottom of the screen that a screenshot has been taken of various yoga poses, and a branded video name/description has been added in the bottom left corner.

This is a great way to create stunning video thumbnails that let potential viewers know exactly what they can expect when watching your content.

Another option is take a photo with a high-quality camera to use specifically for your thumbnail. 

This is a great route to take if you have a host speaking throughout the video, which is really common in videos for elearning and online courses, and you want to make sure you have a clear photo of them while they’re not in the middle of a sentence.

2. Include People in Your Photo

I’d like to take the time to note that this won’t really make sense for you if your video has no people in it. But if you’re recording someone speaking or people doing an activity or demonstrating something, make sure that your video thumbnail includes them in it.

People resonate well with people, and having a person or a face in your thumbnail can help create a stronger connection.

Take a look at this example below. Just a simple photo of someone running can help to make your point and create a bond with your potential viewer.

Running tips thumbnail

If you don’t have the ability to take high-quality photos for your thumbnails, you can always take advantage of relevant stock photos to create the effect you’re looking for.

3. Add Your Video Title

Don’t make your audience work to figure out what your video is called. Place it right on your video thumbnail in a clear, bold font so that it’s easy to see.

And while yes, the video title section will also share what the video is about, having a text overlay on your image is way more attention grabbing than your basic text title.

There are a couple of different ways that you could add your video title onto your thumbnail.

One easy way is to take a page out of the book below and create a color overlay that your text sits on to stand out from the background photo or collage. This can be an opaque or translucent color overlay to help offset your title from the rest of the design.

eLearning title thumbnail example

Another way is to use a photo with a lot of blank space as your thumbnail photo. In the example below, the white space next to the product creates the perfect spot to add a stand-out video title.

Healthy smoothie thumbnail example

Or, you could simply make sure you’re using bright colors that contrast with your background in a bold font that is easy to read, like in the example below.

Color contrast thumbnail example

Whether you’re uploading your videos to YouTube, housing them on a landing page, or even sending in an outreach email, you want to make sure your audience can immediately see your title and know what your video will be about.

4. Use Big, Bold Text

And just to drill it in a bit further, this is a whole point I want to cover. 

You need to ensure that you’re using a big, bold font, preferably serif or sans serif. Script fonts can make your text look messy and is harder for a potential viewer to read at first glance.

Here’s a great example of a bold font that’s easy to read and pops out to a potential viewer.

Bold text thumbnail example

A serif font like Fira Sans Bold, Montserrat, or League Spartan could be a wise move. Otherwise, check out a list of top fonts to find one that works with your videos.

5. Use Bright Colors

You want to create contrast between your design, your text and your background photo. The best way to do this is by bringing bright colors into your video thumbnail design.

Here’s a great example of a bright, attention-grabbing video thumbnail.

Bright color thumbnail example

Bring color in through your photos, a background color, your text or various shapes and other design elements you add into your video thumbnail.

6. Incorporate Shapes

And speaking of shapes, that’s our next design tip to create engaging and eye-popping video thumbnails.

Shapes can be used in so many ways. Add rectangular backgrounds behind your text to help it stand out, use shapes to create geometric designs and more.

Here’s a great example of using a circle to call out a specific part of your text.

Shapes thumbnail example

You can also use shapes as design elements, like how the text bubbles are adding to this thumbnail example below.

Text bubble thumbnail example

7. Insert Your Logo

You always want to make sure your brand is easily recognizable in your video thumbnails, and inserting your logo into one of the corners is a great way to do that.

Take a look at how we add our logo onto our video thumbnails over at Visme.

You can see that we’ve added a single-color version of our logo to the top right corner for brand recognition and to ensure anyone who sees this thumbnail knows we produced the video.

Your logo shouldn’t be a focal point of the thumbnail, but making a spot in the corner of your thumbnail is great for brand strength.

8. Brand Your Video Thumbnail

Another way to strengthen your brand and ensure recognition is to incorporate your brand colors and fonts in the design.

Better yet, this can also help make color scheme and font pairing choices that much easier, as well as creating a cohesive look on your website or YouTube channel.

Here’s a great example of similarly branded video thumbnails.

Branded thumbnail example

All of the fonts in each video thumbnail match, and the background photos stick to a similar theme, bringing the entire video library together.

9. Use Optimal Sizing

Most videos have 16:9 aspect ratios, so you want to make sure that your video thumbnail fits that same size. Otherwise you could have important bits of your thumbnail get cut off when users see it.

You can use a thumbnail maker and video thumbnail template to easily create video thumbnails that are the optimal size as well as professionally designed and engaging for your audience.

Start Designing Beautiful Video Thumbnails

Give your video library a beautiful and cohesive look and feel by designing engaging video thumbnails that encourage viewers to watch your videos and subscribe. Take these design tips to help ensure your thumbnails draw an audience in instead of pushing them away.

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