YouTube Channel Icon: Tips to Create Your Perfect Icon for Your YouTube One Channel

The new YouTube design allows you to add a YouTube channel icon to represent your channel. Previously, YouTube referred to this icon as your channel's "avatar." With the new design, however, your icon needs to fit new sizing requirements.

You also need to be aware that your icon is seen in a variety of different locations on your channel's page and on your subscribers' pages as well.

You could think of your icon as your channel's "station identification" logo, similar to what you see on television (sort of like NBC's famous peacock logo or CBS's big eye logo). Because your icon is a big part of your brand and presence on YouTube, you should spend some time and effort on its design.

Where You'll See Your YouTube Channel Icon

Your icon appears in the following places:

  • On Channel Art Banner: Your icon will appear in the top left corner overlaid on top of your channel art banner. This is the banner that spreads across the top of your channel page. Be aware, though, that your channel icon appears in this location only on larger-screen devices (TVs and laptops, for example).

Smaller displays -- such as mobile phones -- only show the middle section of the banner. On smaller displays, your channel icon will be resized to a much smaller version and will appear immediately below your channel art banner next to your channel name. 

Here's the YouTube channel icon for the Groovy Videos Channel as it appears on a smart phone.

Notice that on this smaller device the icon is no longer part of the channel banner, but appears below it next to the channel name. And, yes, the icon sure is a lot smaller!

  • On a Video's Watch Page: When someone is watching one of your videos on YouTube, they'll see your channel icon underneath the video's title next to your channel name. The icon will be sized smaller than it appears on your channel art banner.

  • Featured/subscribed channels: When someone subscribes to your channel, your YouTube channel icon along with a link to your channel will appear on your subscriber's channel guide. This channel guide is a list of all of their subscriptions. This list appears on the left side of their channel page. 

    Again, YouTube will resize your icon to a MUCH smaller version to fit into the channel guide column.

  • Comments: Each time you write a comment on YouTube, your channel icon and channel name will appear next to your comment. As with the channel guide version of your icon, the icon that appears next to your YouTube comments is resized to fit the small amount of screen real estate available in the comments section.

Important Things to Consider When Creating Your YouTube Channel Icon

  1. Display sizes: Will your icon look good in all the different display sizes? Considering how small YouTube will resize your icon to appear in your subscriber's channel guide and the comments section, this question is somewhat problematic. In these cases, your channel icon may appear more like a "blip" or a "blob" than a thumbnail!

    TIP: Avoid creating an icon that is "too busy," with a lot of intricate detail that will get lost in the smaller-sized versions. YouTube recommends square images which render well (i.e., display well) at 98 x 98 px. 

    Is it worth struggling to create just the right icon that displays well in ALL situations? The answer might depend on whether you've already invested a lot in creating a logo that appears on your website, Facebook page, products, business materials, etc. If the answer is yes, then continuing to use this logo (or a smaller, stylized version of it) as your YouTube channel icon might be the way to go.

    However, if you're just getting started with YouTube, you might want to experiment with a simple icon that looks good at various sizes.

    If "you" are a big part of your brand, you might want a headshot photo of yourself for your icon. Whatever you decide, YouTube always displays your channel name next to your icon, so viewers won't need to rely on your icon alone to identify your channel.

  2. Copyright ownership: Are you using an image for your YouTube channel icon for which you have copyright ownership? The answer better be "yes" or you might violate YouTube's community guidelines and risk having your channel shut down. Your best bet is to create an image from scratch or use a photo that you took yourself. That way there will be no question you own the copyright to your YouTube channel icon.

  3. Using your Google+ profile icon: If you have a Google+ account, you have the option of merging the account with your YouTube account. If you do so, your Google+ profile photo will automatically appear as your YouTube channel icon.

    There are pros and cons of merging your Google+ profile with your YouTube channel. Some people use Google+ primarily for personal social interactions. If you view your YouTube channel as a business enterprise, you may not want to mix it with your Google+ profile. Again, it's a personal choice, but definitely something you'll want to keep in mind as you build your YouTube channel. 

How to Edit Your YouTube Channel Icon

  1. Log into your YouTube account.

    If you don't already have a YouTube account, check out our Groovy Videos' article, "Create a YouTube Account."

  2. Go to your channel page. There are many ways to navigate to your channel page, but one of the easiest is simply to click on your channel name at the top of the left-hand column.

  3. Hover over your YouTube Channel icon located at the top left of your channel art banner.

    You'll see an "edit pencil." Click on this. The "Change Channel Icon" box appears. 

 (NOTE: If you've connected your Google+ account to your YouTube account, you'll be taken to Google+ to update your icon. In this case, your YouTube icon is the same as your Google+ image.)

From here you can choose the image to upload. Your file choices are: JPG, BMP, PNG or non-animated GIF. YouTube suggests uploading a 800 x 800 px image. Be aware that the upload size is not the render (display) size, which is smaller. YouTube recommends square images which render well at 98 x 98 px. 

Another option is to select a still from a video you've already uploaded to YouTube. YouTube displays video stills for you to select from.

Do NOT upload images of celebrities, nudity or copyrighted images. This violates YouTube's community guidelines. Doing so could put your YouTube channel at risk of being shut down. 

Make your selection and then click "Save changes."

OK, I've Created My Channel Icon -- What's Next?

Now that you've uploaded the perfect YouTube channel icon, you'll need to create some snazzy YouTube Channel Art, add some website links, create a video trailer and customize your channel sections.

Additionally, you'll want to stock your channel with lots of great videos you create yourself. Check out the below articles for helpful video tips:

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