Animated GIFs turn 30 this year, so what better way to celebrate than by highlighting the way these images positively work for brands?
Whether you pronounce them with a hard or soft g, to say that GIFs (graphics interchange format) are popular would be the understatement of the year, thanks to sites like Tumblr. Giphy, a major source for the world’s animated images, recently passed 100 million daily users and serves over one billion GIFs per day. Giphy’s massive library is accessible through many of the top social networks including Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Tinder and Slack. When Twitter added the Giphy search engine to its platform last year, it reported that over 100 million GIFs had been shared on Twitter in 2015.
“We are starting to see this behavior where people are using content and culture to communicate—they’re not using words anymore,” Adam Leibsohn, Giphy’s chief operating officer, told Adweek. “When they’re doing that, there’s an opportunity for that culture to come from a brand.”
Brands, in recent years, have effectively communicated ideas to their audiences through GIFs with infographics, product images and more, but especially through humor. As with emoji, digital stickers and memes, branded GIFs are able to communicate with audiences in a simple, yet authentic way.
Coke… chips… guac… Coke… chips… guac… flavor…can’t… handle… the… awesome…🌀 pic.twitter.com/pYxgcPJN6D
— Coca-Cola (@CocaCola) April 7, 2017
— Sonic the Hedgehog (@sonic_hedgehog) April 5, 2017
Since GIFs are animated, they can convey a sense of relaxation or excitement, depending on the intended message.
— TCL Chinese Theatres (@ChineseTheatres) April 11, 2017
A growing trend among brands is the “cinemagraph”—an animated image, usually in GIF format, that isolates movement to one area with more dramatic effect.
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) April 4, 2017
“Cinemagraphs are a great canvas for a variety of brands to experiment with,” Raashi Bhalla of Pinterest’s brand strategy team, told Digiday. “On Pinterest, we have found that while an individual pin represents an idea, with the cinematic feature, you are able to more clearly tell the story of that idea.”
Studies show that when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10 percent of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65 percent of the information three days later.
Brand recall is everything in a campaign and even a single, branded GIF can make all the difference. Twitter claims that people are three times more likely to engage with Tweets that contain videos and photos, according to the company’s internal data.
As technology continues to make the world smaller, images are an invaluable tool that transcends language, culture and sometimes, the need for words. Facebook is testing the ability to comment with animated GIFs, allowing users to both browse trending GIFs and search for specific reactions in-line.
“Everyone loves a good GIF and we know that people want to be able to use them in comments,” Facebook told TechCrunch, “so we’re about to start testing the ability to add GIFs to comments and we’ll share more when we can, but for now we repeat that this is just a test.”