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How to Use GIFs for Marketing

By February 20, 2023May 9th, 2024Marketing, Animation
A GIF showing Chicken Knight, the NDA mascot, riding valiantly next to a title graphic that reads 'How to Use GIFs for Marketing'

To stay ahead of the trends, marketers need to be more agile than ever. We have to meet audiences where they are, and those places and platforms are ever-evolving. 

Let’s talk about GIFs.

GIFs are a powerful tool. We use them to express 3D emotions in the 2D world of the internet, or to find the exact pop culture moment to reference and score a “lol” or two in the chat. 

But how can marketers put GIFs to work? Read on for a bit of background knowledge about GIFs, and our ideas (examples included!) of how to use GIFs for marketing.

So, what is a GIF?

A GIF is a lossless format for image files that supports both animated and static images. They are a fast paced, highly-visual medium perfect for sharing quick bits of info.

A brief history of GIFs

GIFs came to be over 30 years ago, with the purpose of compressing multiple images for memory and space. Since then, they’ve gone through many phases of popularity, from love to hate to love again. 

Despite the fact that many tech experts say GIFs aren’t the ideal file format for animation, many of our systems are built around displaying and sharing them. 

An important note on GIFs and Accessibility

It’s important to remember that although GIFs are a dynamic way to bring information to life, GIFs are not the right choice for every situation. 

These graphics were designed in partnership with the US Forest Service, the State Foresters, and the Ad Council.

Having more content connected to your video means more touchpoints for audiences to connect. See more from this project here.

GIF files leave no way to encode the highly visual content by text, which means that the messages communicated by GIFs are lost for anyone using an accessibility tool such as a screen reader.

When using GIFs, always question whether you’re replacing vital text-based information in your content. You can commit to accessibility by always providing an alternative way to access the information shared, such as using alt-text or a caption. You can read more about GIFs and accessibility here.

How to Use GIFs for Marketing

We’ve been in the business of creating engaging, digestible content for over twelve years.

Let us share some of the ways we’ve seen our clients use GIFs for marketing:

Spice up your message:

If you have a lot of text to go through, breaking it up with fun, relevant imagery will keep your audience engaged and motivated to get through to the important info.

GIFs work well by injecting a bite-sized bit of branding and animation, adding personality to your message while supporting the most important points.

Consider using GIFs to improve text-based marketing like email campaigns or Proposals. Using images that are relevant to your brand helps to give a consistent look and feel throughout.

GIFs or graphics with animated characters can support your organization in creating a cohesive campaign of branded materials.

Click here to see more projects created with the Special Olympics.

Engage distracted users:

With short attention spans a common denominator among audiences, short, memorable clips are a bonus. 

From Bearfoot Graphics; “Research shows that users only have time to read 28% of words per visit to a webpage on average, which means just under three quarters of your message might ever be read.” 

Leverage GIFs for marketing your message in places where your content isn’t getting enough attention. Eye-catching movement paired with custom branding is a surefire way to stand out among the noise.

Strengthen Your Brand Story:

Having a unified brand look is Marketing 101, and our expert animators are happy to put the characters from your project to work in other formats that could be a part of your next branded campaign.

Since GIFs are an extremely specific file format, the process of creating them lends itself to useful creative brainstorming: think about what you can achieve “branding wise” with only a couple seconds – could it be an animated logo? A clip of your company mascot blinking?

Use GIFs as a medium for clarifying the most important parts of your message. Boiling down your content to a succinct, bite-sized GIF will bring clarity to your vision.

Get bang for your buck:

Depending on the scale of your project, GIFs are usually topped off at 5 seconds. This makes GIFs a wonderful choice for budget-friendly custom animation. 

Animating GIFs takes a lot less time than a full blown animation, and requires no time spent on music or voice overs. (If you don’t know, GIFs are audio-free!)

Monterey Mushrooms used these GIFs in addition to an explainer video to illucidate the benefits of their new insurance policy.

Click here to see the full explainer video project these GIFs were based on.

Turn an explainer video into a full-blown marketing campaign by using the characters again in GIFs. We can help you build a package that suits your needs across platforms as an affordable, add-on value to your project.

An animated workplace gif.

This GIF was custom-designed by our fantastic former Next Day Animations graphic design expert, Maya.

Although she brings her skills to new endeavors now, her GIF-making prowess (and more!) lives on here at NDA.

In conclusion, using GIFs for marketing is effective, and fun! Whether popping them in an instagram story or embedding them on your website, they’re a quick visual asset that can communicate a whole lot. 

When starting a creative project, it’s always important to think about what file format would work best for every user, and how accessible  it will be for your viewers to watch, understand, and share your content. 

If you can say it quickly and with a fun animation – say it with a GIF!

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