An animated approach to marketing

Elastic Thinking thought bubble black background

What is a GIF?

Strictly speaking, GIF is an acronym that stands for ‘graphics interchange format’. However like many things, it’s not important to know what it’s called, it’s important to know what it does.

What you can do with a GIF is create a short animation, and stick it up on the internet for everyone to see.

It’s also an important part of the history of the internet.

  • Remember the dancing baby from Ally McBeal? That was a GIF
  • Remember the hamster dance page? Every dancing hamster on that page was a GIF

This still doesn’t really answer our question though. What is a GIF?

Nowadays, a GIF can be many things.

  • It’s a five second, silent movie
  • It’s a quick way to get a point across
  • It’s an effective, accurate way of conveying how you feel about something
  • It’s simultaneously a way to measure what’s being talked about this week, and a way to reference familiar parts of pop culture history

More than anything else, a GIF is an essential part of how your customers communicate online.

Why should you GIF a toss?

How did the GIF end up becoming so important in the last few years? By becoming easy to use, and adding to how we communicate.

With services like Giphy, not only can you search for a specific GIF that you have in mind, you can also search for a GIF that fits a certain theme or feeling.

Do you need a perfect animation to tell someone that you’re sleepy? Great, here you go.

sleepy kitty

Are you furious in a way that words simply can’t convey? The GIF has you covered.

oh so cute and fluffy

Recently, Giphy has now been integrated into Facebook chat, making the user journey even shorter than before, and integrating the GIF into everyday conversations.

Rather than express yourself using a whole sentence that might be misinterpreted, with a GIF you can now illustrate exactly how you feel, or find a hilarious reference that brings the house down.

Mic drop

GIF me a tighter focus

Brands that have seen success with GIFs include Nike, Asos, Topshop, and Samsung.

However, Marvel are a great example of how brands can effectively use GIFs as a marketing tool.

Marvel’s strategy has been to take very short scenes from their upcoming movies, and convert them into GIFs, essentially creating a miniature trailer.

A key advantage of the GIF as opposed to web video such as Facebook video or YouTube, is that it has a much smaller file size. As such, a GIF is much quicker to load and be noticed on a customer’s timeline.

Add to this the expectation that a GIF is likely to be short and therefore not a large time commitment, and what you have is an effective way to get noticed.

Don’t look a GIF horse in the mouth

The internet is a language, one that constantly changes and evolves, and the truth is that you can’t afford not to be fluent.

While it’s understandable that you might think that the conversational, light-hearted culture of GIFs won’t fit the tone of your brand, it’s important to understand that your customers dictate how they communicate with your brand and with each other.

Realistically, you need to speak the same language as your customers. If they’re using GIFs to communicate with your brand and with each other, then you need to at least consider using them too.

With this in mind, we would encourage you to judge your intended tone, find a GIF that works for your brand, and GIF (sorry) it a go.

We recently gave it a try by creating a GIF of our much loved office puppy, Cooper.


Within 24 hours of posting on twitter, it had already become our top tweet for the month.

Next steps

Want to talk to us about GIFs, your latest project, or anything else digital? Let us know online, or phone us on 0131 467 7734.


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