15 Best YouTube Thumbnail Ideas For 2024 (From 7-Figure YouTuber)

15 Best YouTube Thumbnail Ideas For 2024 (From 7-Figure YouTuber)

Forget fancy intros – it’s the thumbnail that decides your video’s fate.

Will people click on it and watch your content?

Or will your hard work simply be ignored?

The following list of YouTube thumbnail ideas ensures people WILL consume your content.

And that’s the first and most crucial step to growing your YouTube channel.

How do I know? I have a channel with over 180k subscribers.

I know what makes for great thumbnail ideas.

And that’s why I’m bringing these ideas to you right now.

What Are the Best YouTube Thumbnail Ideas?

Here are the best ideas for YouTube thumbnails.

1. Comparison

A good YouTube thumbnail image that compares ideas grabs attention.

Whether it’s cats vs. dogs, hardcover books vs. e-readers, or pizza vs. burgers, these comparisons spark curiosity.

They’re also great at getting people to want to share their preferences.


Source: youtube.com

The best part about these comparison thumbnails?

They’re suitable for diverse content.

You can use the same concept in different markets, niches, and topics.

Before and after thumbnails also work great in this case.

2. Text Overlay with Iconic Background

Going for an instantly recognizable background?

It’s a great way to build instant connection.

2. Text Overlay with Iconic Background

Source: youtube.com

Couple that with the right text overlay (to add context), and you will have a recipe for success.

This type of thumbnail communicates what a video is about – without having to say much.

I also like it because it combines text and visual elements to strengthen a brand’s identity.

Use this format in multiple videos, and people will look for your thumbnails and content.

3. Blurred

Want to know a great way to elicit curiosity and get people to click?

Use “blurred sections” in your thumbnail.


Source: AdamEnfroy

If you have a monetary amount in your thumbnail, blur it out.

If you have a crucial ingredient to success (for example, I used “X” to get “Y”), blur it out.

This works because you’re encouraging content discovery.

And the only way for people to “scratch this itch” and find out what they don’t know?

Click on your video and watch its content.

4. Size Difference

Showing different size extremes is another great thumbnail idea.

Size Difference

Source: x-challenge1069

Compare the size difference between an elephant and a mouse. Or even a skyscraper and a tiny house.

It could also be about people. A guy driving a supercar and Fred Flinstones.

You can go as crazy as you want!

At worst, this is a humourous way to contrast two sides of the same coin.

At best, you get people into the narrative and curious to watch your content.

Some examples of different industries where you can use this size difference include:

  • Comparing the website traffic of two sites
  • Showing the different subscriber counts between a new channel and a well-established one
  • Showing engagement rates of organic posts vs paid ones

The use case depends on your market.

However, with some imagination, you can find a way to use this size difference to your advantage.

5. Animated Characters

A great way to create memorable thumbnails is to use animated characters.

Having a recognizable character (or mascot) serves your long-term branding needs as well.

Animated Characters

Source: isaacverse

And when this mascot can show different emotions based on the video’s topic, your audience will know what to expect – before they click on the video.

Think about a fun cartoon character exploring a historical site – in the case of an educational channel.

Or a weird-looking character starting an online business and transforming into his best self internally and externally.

Or even a food-happy mascot cooking various dishes from different cuisines.

You can do so much when using characters as part of your thumbnails.

6. Questions

Do you know what the best part about asking questions is?

It automatically forces people to think of an answer.

And when that happens, people are more likely to engage with your YouTube videos, leave a comment, like, share, etc…


Source: TheEconomist

The question (pun intended) then becomes, “How do you ask the right questions in your thumbnail?”

After all, there isn’t much space to ask long-winding questions in a small image (a.k.a. the thumbnail).

You have to make your question short and to the point.

Ignore grammatical rules. The idea is not to win English-language awards.

It’s just to get people to think.

Don’t ask:

  • How can you optimize your website’s SEO to increase organic traffic significantly over time?

Instead, ask:

  • Want more traffic?
  • Boost SEO now?
  • Struggling with sales?

Short, simple, and effective.

7. Shocking

Unique or shocking YouTube thumbnail images tend to stick in viewers’ minds.

And in a world where 500 hours of YouTube content is uploaded every minute, sticking out is critical.


Source: MrBeast

A shocking thumbnail that forces viewers to stop the scroll is halfway to getting the click.

Think about thumbnails that are as unique as they sound:

  • A person in a dinosaur costume in a modern office
  • A laptop bursting into flames with a surprised person in the background.
  • A stack of cash spilling out of a computer screen.

What’s crucial here is that you don’t use a shocking thumbnail just to get the click.

It has to be relevant to your video.

Even more importantly, your video must deliver on what’s promised.

If not, you might get a few thumbnail impressions or clicks where people start watching your videos.

However, you won’t be able to retain people for long.

They’ll feel cheated and click off your video – fast.

8. Big Numbers

Big numbers attract attention.

Big Numbers

Source: CodieSanchezCT

Imagine a thumbnail stating:

  • “Spending $1 million on a pizza”.
  • Or another saying, “500,000 subscribers in 3 months”.
  • Or even “Saving $50,000 with this one trick”.

Viewers are drawn to content that makes big promises.

What’s crucial (as I mentioned earlier) is that you can back up your claims in the video.

What’s excellent about numbers is that they convey an exact message and do it quickly.

There’s no need to use lots of words to say your piece.

Instead, you let the numbers do the talking.

9. Behind-the-Scenes

People love being part of the “what’s happening in the background”.

It almost makes them feel like they’re part of the family.

“Behind the scenes” are also a great way to humanize your content and showcase the authentic aspects behind a big brand.

Using thumbnails that offer a glimpse into your content production can be a great way to make this real.

Think about a video titled “Making of a Blockbuster Movie: Behind the Lens”.

Now consider a thumbnail that:

  • Shows the director and actors sharing a laugh on set.
  • Features the intricate details of a costume or set design
  • Shows a split screen of raw footage and the final polished scene.

Source: haleyjoelosmentmemoriesr9

These are all great YouTube thumbnail example ideas in a behind-the-scenes context.

10. Social Hacking

Want a great way to boost exposure significantly – especially when starting up?

Social hacking is all about using famous personalities to your advantage.

Social Hacking

Source: EdMylettShow

Let’s say a famous YouTube just released a video about a controversial topic.

You can speak about that video’s content in your own video.

In your video, you share your thoughts and what you agree (and disagree) with.

As for the thumbnail, you then use the famous YouTuber’s portrait alongside yours.

You’ll get people who recognize the famous people and click on your video to see (almost) purely based on that.

The best part? You can keep repeating this process with the latest news.

Just be careful who you associate with.

While social hacking is a great way to get short-term attention, you don’t want to associate yourself with those who don’t align with your values.

It’s not worth the long-term damage this could do to your brand.

11. Trend Mashup

What’s better than a thumbnail showing a trend?

Having a mashup of two or more trends.

You can create thumbnails based on these trends by knowing what’s hot.

As a result, you take advantage of what’s popular to get more clicks to your videos.

What does this mean in reality?

Consider thumbnails featuring:

  • A popular influencer trying out the latest viral challenge while discussing cryptocurrency.
  • The latest blockbuster movie character in a meme format related to current events.
  • A mashup of trending diets (think Keto and Vegan) while traveling the world.
Trend Mashup

Source: NDL

These thumbnails can attract a broad audience that might totally agree/disagree with one of the viewpoints – but is also curious about the second-mentioned trend.

The key is demonstrating innovative thinking while utilizing what’s trending – and doing it all through an eye-catching thumbnail.

12. Emotional Appeal

Emotions drive people. They’re the universal language that connects us.

Emotional Appeal

Source: IncomeSchool

A thumbnail that evokes strong emotions will get clicks.

To make this work, define which emotion you want to trigger and make that the focus of your thumbnail.

A point points to remember:

  • An emotional-based thumbnail can be either positive or negative.
  • Unlike a mashup, it is challenging to evoke multiple emotions through a single thumbnail. Therefore, I would focus on one primary emotion per thumbnail.

For example:

  • Happiness: A thumbnail showing a person joyfully celebrating with confetti falling
  • Surprise: A person with a wide-eyed, mouth-open expression
  • Fear: A close-up of someone looking anxious or worried
  • Empathy: A thumbnail showing a tearful person being comforted

These thumbnails can all evoke the desired emotional response.

Combine this with the right video titles, descriptions, and content. The result?

People will click on your videos.

13. Going Minimalistic

Having too many elements in your thumbnail can confuse viewers.

Sometimes, a minimalist YouTube thumbnail design helps your video stand out – especially when there’s lots of “noise” in your industry.

Going Minimalistic

Source: mreflow

Look at competitors’ videos and notice their thumbnails.

Is everyone trying to outcompete each other?

If all you see are shiny objects, contrasting colors, and bigger claims, it’s worthwhile testing minimalistic thumbnails.

These can be as basic as a simple icon on a white background.

You could also try adding one or two words to your thumbnails.

The idea is to attract your audience by going in the opposite direction as everyone else.

And in the process, you remove as much confusion as possible from your viewers.

14. Header Thumbnail

Think about the headline on a sales page.

It makes a big promise while inviting readers to read the following line.

A “header” thumbnail serves the same purpose.

Header Thumbnail

Source: patflynn

Think of it as the opening sentence of your video, inviting the viewer to go on a journey with you.

Imagine a thumbnail with this header: “Escape From Alcatraz: The True Story”.

If they’re into thrilling true stories, people are likelier to click to learn more than if they came across a thumbnail that wasn’t as “majestic”.

Here are a few more ideas to get your imagination going:

  • “The Secret to Perfect Homemade Pizza” – for a cooking channel.
  • “Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe” – for a science or educational channel.

As YouTube creators, the idea is to make a bold promise that piques people’s curiosity.

These types of headers also suggest well-produced content.

Therefore, ensure your videos match up the style and boldness of these thumbnails.

15. Weird Object

Want to make a thumbnail stand out?

Include weird objects!

Weird Object

Source: Coffeezilla

Think about:

  • A thumbnail showing a bizarre, unidentified gadget stating, “What Is This Thing?!”
  • An image of a strange, colorful fruit with the text “You Won’t Believe This Exists!”
  • An antique device with a caption like “The Weirdest Invention Ever Made!”

If these sound like clickbait titles, it depends on what happens next.

What do people get as they watch videos in more detail?

Clickbait is defined as using misleading or sensationalized headlines to attract clicks without delivering on the promise.

However, if your video provides genuine, interesting, and valuable content (that is true to the claims made in the thumbnail), it’s not clickbait.

It’s effective marketing.

Mixing And Matching Thumbnail Ideas

The above YouTube thumbnail ideas are great on their own.

However, if you want to multiply their effectiveness, consider mixing and matching them.

You could have:

  • a weird object thumbnail along with a header on top of it.
  • a question along with big numbers as your thumbnails.
  • a big number that’s blurred while showing a behind-the-scenes image.

Your creativity is the only limiting factor here.

As long as you stick to YouTube thumbnail best practices (such as clear, high-resolution images, easily readable text, and a consistent style), you can find success.

The thumbnail game is all about knowing the foundations of what makes a compelling thumbnail and then having fun creating new versions to test out.

A/B Testing Thumbnails

Speaking of testing, let’s talk about A/B testing.

This is a powerful technique you can use to see which thumbnail version works best.

The idea is to start with two thumbnails and see which gets the most clicks.

Over time, you’ll have a statistical winner.

You can then stick to the winner or continue running tests with additional thumbnails to try and beat the original (called the control).

As far as how to do it, YouTube has been promising an an A/B testing tool for a while.

However, it seems only a few people have early access to this.

External tools like TubeBuddy offer A/B testing features for your thumbnails (and even titles).

Analyzing the results and seeing which thumbnail your target market prefers is powerful knowledge to have.

With this data, you’ll be able to:

  • Remove the guesswork from thumbnail creation. Instead, you rely on target audience data to make informed choices.
  • Improve your click-through rate and increase your views.
  • Think of new thumbnail ideas you might not have considered before.

Tools To Create High-Quality Thumbnails

There are lots of tools you can use to help create YouTube thumbnails.

Here’s a list of tools to consider:


Creating the perfect YouTube thumbnail is key to getting more views.

Whether it’s a cat superhero or a big number (blurred to peak interest), the right thumbnail will make all the difference.

However, remember, it’s not just about being flashy.

Your content should match your thumbnail and keep any promises you make.

And with the above YouTube thumbnail ideas, this all becomes much easier.

Further reading on AdamEnfroy.com: Want to use AI to create eye-catching thumbnails?

Check out this guide on making YouTube thumbnails with AI.

And if you want specific tools, these are my favorite AI thumbnail makers for YouTube.

Here’s an easy guide on making money with AI on YouTube.

If you need content ideas and have a YouTube channel with your significant other, don’t miss this guide on YouTube video ideas for couples.

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