Content lessons with Ash- the influence of YouTube thumbnails

Pundits, presenters, and other media personalities, such as journalists, are taking their content game more seriously across the sports content landscape. Seeing how influential YouTube has become as a platform to optimise promotion for your brand is a no-brainer. There are many reasons behind this, including caption choices, production quality, timing release, etc. However, one that’s often overlooked is the quality of the thumbnail. This includes various elements involving the thumbnail design/choice and branding colours.

The purpose of this blog will focus on the above and help you make your content stand out to your audience based on broad audience habits.

Case study 1: Dan Hardy

Dan Hardy is a former UFC Fighter. Now, he’s become a pundit with his own YouTube channel producing various content, including podcast episodes, fight predictions, storytelling fighters, and capturing behind-the-scenes content from events he gets invited to.

Regarding Dan’s thumbnails, his strategy is basic regarding the font design but ensures for each content stream he publishes, he presents differences. Also, with each thumbnail, he includes himself present despite his audience likely expecting these videos to feature him. Other ways to empower your brand identity in front of your audience or new audiences can involve the thumbnail having a logo present. Occasionally, the colour will be amended to promote another asset best.

To summarise, lessons to learn from Dan’s thumbnail strategy include…

  • Ensure you stay consistent with promoting the asset that’s most integral to representing your personal brand. Dan performed this by featuring his face in each thumbnail.
  • Think outside the box on ways to encourage the potential consumer to click ahead of seeing the video. For example, Dan utilised this thought by keeping a consistent tone with the colour codes per video.

Case study 2: Michael Bisping

Michael Bisping, a former UFC Champion, who’s now a B.T. Sport UFC presenter, also has a YouTube Channel and here’s what his YouTube thumbnail strategy looks like.

He differs from Dan. The fonts on his video thumbnails are different colours. Often it tends to vary because it is an additional content theme; for example, if it’s a prediction-based video, it will be blue.

Another benefit relating to the above is its impact on audience retention. For example, if each thumbnail looks like a different design, there is more of a chance of new/current audiences scrolling through longer due to the fascination behind the designs.

Therefore, the key point to learn from Bisping’s YouTube channel includes prioritising ways to encourage audience retention (viewership periods) to last for as long as possible. Bisping utilises this tactic through his thumbnail’s different sub-headings and colours in the font.

Case study 3: WADE Concept

The W.A.D.E Concept has grown to 250k+ YouTube subscribers and has become a pivotal voice amongst the YouTube Boxing Community.  

With WADE’s thumbnails, not only does he include cut-outs of himself, but they often express the emotion in which is representing emotions he wants to showcase through the video. The impact this has on the viewer is authenticity. What is meant by this is that even before the viewer has chosen to click or not, they’ve got a glimpse of the creator’s personality through an image. Also, most of his text in the thumbnail has 3 dots, demonstrating a method to try and leave your audience enticed and intrigued to click through. This is better known as ‘clickbait.’

The core lesson to learn from WADE is to ensure you leave your audience intrigued by remaining authentic.


That’s a wrap! As discovered, the minute details in YouTube thumbnails can impact your audience more than you can imagine.

What was the most insightful lesson you took away from this blog that will benefit you?

Published by Ash

I'm a First-Class Graduate in Sports Business Management who has worked across Local Government, Sport and the Third Sector. Throughout my career, I've developed a thriving passion to promote sport being used as a tool to bring positivity to the world we live in. This ethos has inspired me to create a website which champions this value through comprehensive online content for you to gain value from. Join me on this journey of discovering what sport can do to enhance society.

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