Graphic design is the use of text, photos, and creative elements to convey a brand's purpose or feel. These are blended in an imaginative way for ads, magazines, products, video games, etc.

Look at the frozen yogurt brand, Sweet Frog, for instance. They wanted to convey a fun, happy, lighthearted feel. To achieve this, they went with colors, text, and designs that express this. 


The most popular channels on YouTube have adopted design elements to express themselves.

Graphic design won't take you from zero to millions of subs overnight. It's simply a tool in your growing YouTube toolbox.

What you'll find in this article:

  • Elements of graphic design
  • How the best YouTube channels use graphics
  • How you can use design elements for yourself

Let's get started!

Elements of Graphic Design

There are more than 300 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute. This means it's harder to get discovered. One way people are breaking through is with an eye-catching thumbnail. This is the first place you will see design elements at work.

Here are some irrefutable fundamentals of design:


contrast in graphic design

Contrast in design highlights important information. The most common style you will see is a dark background and light-colored words. Contrast can be created with any number of mixed elements. Font size, style, and color are just a few of the elements you can use.


Repetition is the repeated use of a design element. It creates continuity throughout an entire work. Continuity can tie elements together that would not otherwise fit. You can use the repetition of color, lines, texture, or font.

Repetition in graphic design


Lines can be thick, thin, wavy, or jagged. They are used to organize content and guide the viewer's attention. Text and geometric designs are two common usages of lines. Differing the color, texture, weight or style of a line can drastically change a design.

lines in graphic design


Shapes are all around us if we look closely. They are divided into geometric and organic shapes. Organic shapes have one or more curved or freeform sides. Geometric shapes, more often, have balanced sides.

shape in graphic design

Shapes help to communicate ideas visually. Like lines, they can organize ideas in a piece and guide the viewer's eye. Shapes are also be used to create simple illustrations.

Form and Texture

Forms are 3-dimensional shapes. To create the illusion of depth, lights and shadows are used. Form gives a realistic feel to 2d elements.

Form and Texture in graphic design

Texture functions similar to form. It gives a realistic quality to 2d elements. Buttons can be smooth and glossy or as rough as concrete with implied texture. It also makes a design more interesting.


 Balance in graphic design

In design, a lot of one thing is too much. A fair amount of design requires intuition. Balance is one of those things that takes the experience to get right. When done properly, balance makes a design pleasing to the eye. It will convey information in the most noninvasive way.

In design, a lot of one thing is too much. A fair amount of design requires intuition. Balance is one of those things that takes the experience to get right. When done properly, balance makes a design pleasing to the eye. It will convey information in the most noninvasive way.

Balance refers to how much any one element attracts the viewer's eye. It is affected by color, size number, and negative space.

You may have heard photographers mention the rule of thirds. This divides your work area into a 3x3 grid. The focal point of the image is then placed on one of the dividing lines. This is also called the rule of thirds.

How the Best YouTube Channels Use Graphic Design

A great YouTube channel adds value to the user. This could be educational or entertainment value. In the beginning, graphics are not as important. The building process is about getting used to posting and seeing what works.

After you've got a good handle on this, use graphic design to set yourself apart from the rest. A visually appealing video will make for a more pleasant experience for your subs.

Here are a few ways that popular YouTubers use graphic design.


Kondzilla is a YouTube channel by a Brazilian music video producer. He has 44 million subscribers and is the third most popular YouTuber on the platform. The first thing you notice when you click on his page are his videos. The thing that jumps out is the logo. It is a bright magenta with stylized lines for the white text. The thumbnail is also a unique shape.

These two elements combine to help the thumbnail standout on the search page.

The next thing you notice is the photo composition. The photos are very high quality and involve lots of contrast. The subjects are centered symmetrically or on the 3x3 grid.

The channel highlights the colorful nature of Brazilian music and its unique artists. It achieves this with highly contrasted thumbnails, vibrant complementary colors, and unique shapes.

At the beginning of their videos, the logo and artist name is an animated font. At times the font is glossy and 3D and other times is very textured and distressed.

Good Mythical Morning

Good Mythical Morning is a fun channel hosted by Rhett and Link. It's a morning show that discusses various interesting topics and curious challenges. The feel they are going for seems to be lots of fun and laughs while being laid-back.

The first thing you notice about this channel is the banner. Their channel banner is all sorts of visual goodness. It uses lines, balance, and color to create an epic feel to the landing page. The color palate is simple and reduced to 3 colors. The background is yellow and contrasts nicely with the black and white lettering.

The lines around Rhett and Link combine to add a 'mythical' feel to the hosts.

Image Source: Good Mythical Morning

The thumbnails use large white letters and white-outlined elements. These convey what the episodes are about. They are balanced and feature the host in various poses. Their green and white lettered logo is present in the bottom right corner of all thumbnails.

Finally, throughout the videos, several background textures and graphic animations are used. They add interest and emphasize the subject referred to.


DudePerfect is a YouTube channel run by 5 best friends and apparently a panda. The first thing you notice about DudePerfect's landing page is their logo. The logo is simple. The letters 'D' and 'P' are stylized in black against a turquoise background.

DudePerfect is a sports comedy channel. The feel is inherently light-hearted and fun.

Their thumbnails are high-quality photos that don't contain many graphic elements. The subjects of the photos are pictured performing some amazing feat in a balanced way.

Image Source: DudePerfect

Throughout the videos, texts are animated to create emphasis. The text ranges from comic book style to futuristic computer. These elements use line, color, contrast, and balance to emphasize the points.

5 Minute Crafts

5 Minute Crafts is a channel for busy crafters and bored kids. The first thing you notice about them is their simple banner and logo. The banner is a blue-green paint swatch over a wooden background. The lettering is white block. The logo is a yellow lightbulb on a blue background with lines to emphasize the light.

These simple elements convey the channel's purpose of simple, quick crafts.

Image Source: 5-Minute Craft 

Their thumbnails feature the video subject set against a very colorful background.

Throughout the videos, several design elements are used. There is no talking in the videos so text and emojis are used to convey information. The video subjects are against a contrasting background and centered in the frame.

Stop motion animation is used to convey information or create emphasis.

How Can You Apply Graphic Design to Your Own Channel

Pay attention to what's going on around you. Design elements occur in everyday life to direct traffic and sell things. Write down what your channel is about. What is the purpose of your brand? What are you trying to convey?

From there, write down up to 10 adjectives that describe your channel. Take your time with this and don't choose the general answers like 'fun' and 'cool'. Words like 'quirky' and 'sophisticated' work better here.

Try to elaborate on what those words mean. When you have your words, you can choose colors and lines styles that associate with them. For instance, uplifting channels with toys and crafts may choose bright colors.

Also, try writing down what your brand is not. It may be helpful to reverse engineer who you are if you know exactly who you aren't.

Create a collection of reference photos and brands that you like. This will inform your own branding decisions.

Even if you seek out a design expert, knowing these things can help you find the right person for the job.

Lights, Camera, Action!

The best YouTube channels are all vastly different but have all figured out the same thing. That is, a visual display of your brand creates more interest.

Play with elements of light and shadow to create form and more dramatic effects. Experiment with line weight, shapes, colors, and contrast to find the precise fit for your brand identity.

A professional graphic designer can minimize the trial and error that goes into creating your brand style. You don't have to be a design expert to succeed on the YouTube platform. A great design is another weapon to add to your toolbox.

Feeling stuck with your brand style? Contact us today to answer your most pressing questions.