Thumbnail Simplicity – Analyzing 4 Great Thumbnails

What makes a simple YouTube thumbnail truly great?

2023-01-25 05:20

A great thumbnail needs to be simple enough to understand at a glance but complex enough to get a viewer interested. At times, the line between these can be incredibly thin, and it can take a real pro to perfectly balance on it. In this blog post, we have looked at four videos whose creators have managed just that, creating simple yet beautiful thumbnails.

Zac Alsop

Zac Alsop – I Tested 5 Star ‘Pet Friendly’ Hotels With Farm Animals

Video Link

This thumbnail does a lot right. Already at a first glance, you understand exactly what the video is about, and it does this without excessive text or arrows – the visuals are enough to portray everything you need to know. The pig on a leach in a hotel lobby is a great way to summarize a video without removing the incentive to watch it, sparking curiosity and raising questions. Will he get his room? There’s only one way to find out!
The wooden background does a great job at bringing the focus to what’s important, and the bright colors on Zac and his pig really help them stand out. All in all, this is a great thumbnail for a great video. Good job, Zac!

Colin and Samir

Colin and Samir – We spent 24 hours with MrBeast

Video Link

MrBeast is a very loud creator with a fairly young audience, and his style of thumbnails show that. They are bright and vibrant – and consistently some of the best on YouTube. This video by Colin and Samir is the complete opposite to an average MrBeast thumbnail, despite the entire video being about the man. Why? The answer is simple and is, in our opinions, what makes the thumbnail great. By creating a calmer, yet still very intriguing thumbnail, the duo makes one thing very clear: this is not your typical loud MrBeast-style video. Just looking at the thumbnail, you can instantly see that the video is made for a different, more mature target audience than MrBeast does. The viewer knows they can expect a perspective you would not usually see, presented in a way they might find interesting even if they do not like the normal MrBeast style of content.
The title of the video, “We spent 24 hours with MrBeast”, could easily work for a number of video styles, and knowing what other content there is on YouTube it would be easy to assume this video is a loud and fast-pace vlog style video. In reality, we would describe the video as a documentary, in a much slower pace than the title would suggest on it’s own. Yet, in this case, paired with a great thumbnail, we know what to expect and already know if we will like the video or not before we click. Colin and Samir really nailed this one, and paired the thumbnail with an equally great video to back it up. We highly recommend giving this one a watch if you have the time – it’s definitely a great one!

William Osman

William Osman – How many parts can you take off a car?

Video Link

Just like the previous two videos, a quick look is enough to want to click this video. The broken car, which seemingly is driving, is a great focus point that gives you an idea of what you’re about to watch. Setting this video apart from the previous two, however, is the use of questions – both in the thumbnail and in the title. Starting with the thumbnail, a large title asks the viewer a question: is the car William is driving legal? The single word, “Illegal?”, is enough to fill in the remaining gaps in your understanding of the video, further driving interest towards gaining an answer. Further continuing to the title we get more details on what the video is about, perfectly complementing the thumbnail which has already raised a similar question. In our eyes, this is a perfect example of how thumbnails and titles can work together to create a video you just have to click!

Maurice Moves

Maurice Moves – How to travel with just one bag (& zero sacrifices)

Video Link

Targeting your videos at a niche audience both has it’s benefits and drawbacks. One benefit is that you can focus your thumbnail efforts on just the group you’re targeting rather than a broader audience who might not be as interested in your content. With this thumbnail, Maurice Moves does just that, and does it great. It is clear that this video is for people who love traveling around the globe, and just like previous videos in this blog post we already know exactly what the video is about just from a first glance.
Like the William Osman video from before, this thumbnail also utilizes text to give the viewers a good idea of what to expect, and the same can be said about the well-organized items around the bag. A simple and organized thumbnail for an interesting and equally organized video – it just makes sense.


The four thumbnails we’ve had a look at today have their differences, but across all of them two things are in common. First, a single glance is enough to understand what the video is about – without spoiling anything. Second, the thumbnail (sometimes together with the title) raises a question that the viewer just has to find the answer to. These two characteristics together are important for a clickable thumbnail, and the creators we’ve analyzed today have mastered this in their videos.
If you’ve come this far, chances are that you are interested in learning how to improve your thumbnails. Other than reading our other blog posts, our web-app ThumbnailTester is a great way to know if your thumbnail (and title) is effective before you upload – making sure you get those extra views your video deserves. You can read more at our home page, if you are interested. Good luck in your thumbnail creation, and we hope to see you again!

Hugo Beck-Friis

2023-01-25 05:20