There are dozens of ways to create content for YouTube. Vlogging, how-tos, react videos, Let’s Plays, Q&As, shorts, and series all have a home on YouTube and have helped catapult creators like Miranda Sings, Markiplier, Issa Rae, Grace Helbig, and others to mainstream stardom.
There are hundreds of brands on YouTube, but they don’t all cultivate a YouTube presence around original content. For example, some major studios, brands, and video game publishers have massive followings, but don’t use YouTube as a place to connect to and engage audiences through recurring or weekly content. Instead, it’s more of a repository for trailers and commercials.
In looking at the top brands on YouTube, we wanted to highlight the brands that are developing inventive content for their channels, rather than those reposting content developed for TV. The most successful brands have found a way to develop videos and series that extend the branded experience. It’s worth noting, though, that the followings of even the most successful brands don’t hold a candle to top influencer channels, which routinely draw subscribers by the millions.
Let’s take a look at the top brands on YouTube and what they’re doing to build an experience on the platform around unique content.
BMW’s YouTube brand channel is a car enthusiast’s dream come true. In BMW’s videos, experts often share historical and technological information about various BMW cars. Additionally, BMW’s subscribers get a first look at official launch films and web series. The most recent series featured on the channel is coined “Get out there” and features footage of a location scout driving through the diverse and beautiful terrain of Norway.
Average views: 85,000
Chanel’s YouTube channel draws in over 700,000 subscribers with its high-quality fashion and beauty content. Most of Chanel’s videos are make-up tutorials featuring new products, fashion show footage, or interviews with top designers.
Average views: 160,000
The most popular videos on Disney’s channel are its retellings of its most loved movies using emoji. The channel also includes drawing tutorials, live studio tours, movie trailers, and full episodes of several of its most popular children’s TV shows. Disney’s creative and original YouTube content receives an average of 272,000 views, more than any other brand on YouTube.
Average views: 272,000
Google encourages its employees to spend 20% of their time at work on independent ideas and projects. Two of its employees, Nat & Lo, chose to use their 20% to create a web series that takes viewers behind the scenes at Google and provides helpful tips about Google products. Nat & Lo’s content has been instrumental in bolstering the success of Google’s channel. Other content on the channel includes new product introductions and a “Google Arts & Culture” series.
Average views: 100,000
GoPro’s YouTube channel showcases epic footage shot by professional athletes (all using GoPros, of course). Activities filmed include surfing, biking, snowboarding, skiing, diving, and wakeboarding, as well as some decidedly more extreme sports like snowmobile paragliding, speedflying, and underground kayaking. GoPro also shares winning footage from its Official GoPro awards.
Average views: 143,000
On LEGO’s YouTube channel, viewers can watch their favorite LEGO characters come to life in exclusive webisodes. One of their most popular content styles is the retelling of movie plots using LEGO characters. Their Beauty and the Beast retelling was a big hit, receiving over 1.3 million views in just one week. Content on the LEGO channel is available in multiple languages including English, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Romanian, and Ukrainian, helping LEGO reach a broad audience.
Average views: 143,000
Outside of commercials, Nike’s YouTube channel consists mostly of product introductions and web series. One of their recent series, “Meet the Revolutionair”, features interviews with leading artists from the Nike Air Max design community. Another recent series, “the Man Who Kept Running”, chronicles Kevin Hart’s comedic journey through the desert. The premise of the series is that each time his Apple Watch with Nike+ asked him “Are we running today?”, he said yes. Watch the first installment of the series below:
Average views: 37,000
Nintendo is the second most viewed brand channel, which is unsurprising given gamers’ enormous presence on YouTube. Live gameplay, trailers, and web series can all be found on Nintendo’s YouTube channel. One of its most popular series is called Nintendo Minute. Hosted by Kit & Krista, this series showcases new products through unboxings, gameplay, and commentary.
Average views: 238,000
Red Bull’s captivating original content helped it earn nearly 6 million subscribers, more than any other brand on YouTube. All of Red Bull’s videos include footage of extreme sports endeavors. In the example below, Mick Fanning’s surf photography trip in the Arctic Circle is showcased.
Average Views: 82,000
The Victoria’s Secret Angels are the star of the popular Victoria’s Secret YouTube channel. The channel’s content includes everything from workout videos to backstage glimpses at hair and makeup practices to lipsync videos, all featuring the angels. Victoria Secret’s commercials are also regularly posted to the channel.
Average views: 82,000
The most successful brands on YouTube aren’t just the ones with the most followers, they’re the ones creating original content that acts an as an extension of the core ideals that resonate with their specific audiences. Disney and LEGO use storytelling. Nike uses next-level gear and athletes. GoPro and Red Bull use the excitement of extreme sports and stunts.
YouTube isn’t just about uploading content, it’s about creating compelling stories that deepen an audience’s connection to a brand. The best brands on YouTube are ultimately successful for the same reason that influencer marketing is so effective: humanizing a brand, telling a story, and cementing a personal connection between the onscreen content, the audience, and the brand itself.