How to Sell Video

5 Ways to Make Smart Thumbnails for Your Video Business

by Chad Pugh · June 24, 2016 · Comments

As a video creator, you spend a lot of time and effort on — yup — videos. But when you’re building a video business, marketing and packaging those carefully crafted videos is important too. Images are a huge asset! 

It’s all about making your visual branding feel like you, while helping your audience understand what they’re getting. This is especially important for subscription video networks: You are creating a viewing experience for people to keep returning to. That means your approach to images should be a little different than if you were just uploading one cheeky video to YouTube. 

So let’s talk about video thumbnails. These are the static images that will represent your video content when people are browsing your site and apps, or anywhere on social media. (Any time you share a VHX video link, a social card will automatically appear to show your thumbnail + trailer.) 

We’ve built the VHX platform so that the content organization and design of your web and mobile app experience is already taken care of. You just need to give those videos some artwork. Here are some handy tips for choosing the thumbnail images that will make your video brand pop.

Advertise on your website, not your videos

A thoughtfully produced set of artwork for your content is one of the best sales jobs you can do for your site. Adding in extra graphics to entice users can often be overkill and feel gimmicky. Let the quality of your work sell itself!

Do use an exciting shot with the highest detail, Don't overlay graphics

Think holistically

You may be launching your content one video at a time, but you want to be careful you’re not creating a new art style with each thumbnail uploaded. If you’re not careful, your video listing page could start to look like a random Google image search results page. Finding a theme to focus on per video collection can help the user feel the connection between each video and help them navigate through your work.

Do think holistically about images and ensure content focus. Don't use an automatically generated shot

Match tone & color

Try applying a unifying color, texture, or gradient to your thumbnails. It’s an easy aesthetic change that will up your overall look, and is particularly helpful when your content has great subject variety.

Do keep color variation minimal to match tone. Don't use the full spectrum.

Do try reducing image saturation, Don't oversaturate images

Expand, don’t spam your brand

I understand: You have a fantastic logo that is essential for your viewers to understand the root of your brand. You probably spent a lot of time and money on it. However, I’d like to caution you from going overboard and placing it on every video thumbnail you upload. Instead, find a visual way to give a nod to your artwork and use that.

Do hint to your logo in images. Don't Paste a logo on every image.

Rely on video library hierarchy

On VHX, we’ve built video management tools so that users can understand how content is organized, even without the perfect imagery. You don’t necessarily need “Episode 10” emblazoned across a thumbnail, because it’s already obvious in the video layout. Use this to your advantage, and remove all unnecessary text from your thumbs to show the key moment in that particular video that would excite the user. The title, order, and collection are already there!

One last piece of wisdom: Even though thumbnails are static, your brand doesn't have to be. Don't be afraid to make tweaks and update images as time goes on — your video business is always growing!