Everything you want to know about GIFs

Everything you want to know about GIFs

Friday May 12, 2017,

4 min Read

GIFs have truly taken the virtual communication space by storm. IOS integrated them into its messaging, and Twitter, too, comes with its own set. And the very creative Twitterati has gone from using pop culture characters to their own faces in GIFs, expressing everything from surprise to angst to pleasure. And I, for one, love it!

According to this Mashable story about the history of this new form of expression, “‘GIF’ stands for ‘graphics interchange format’, a mature name for an image format just coming of age in the digital space. Specifically, Steve Wilhite of Compuserve debuted the GIF in June 1987. The GIF improved on black and white image transfers with 256 colours, while still retaining a compressed format that slow modems could load easily. Using the Graphics Control Extension (GCE), the GIF achieved animation via timed delays.”


In their early years, GIFs were used widely across the internet, often to showcase failed attempts at opening a page or a website under development, to name a few use cases. The one thing that has remained true to form over the years is how much fun digital natives have had with them.

Now, with brands riding on every wave of consumer communication trends on social media, GIFs are a great way to speak the language consumers do, understand, and relate with.

Below we cover the basics of GIFs in brand communication, especially if you are a small business with limited funds to spend on digital creative.

When should I use GIFs?

Show your brand’s fun side

Brands that are fun and have a relatable personality on social media find audience quickly. Using funny or weird GIFs in Facebook and Twitter conversations are a great way to do it.

Show off a new product

Whether it is the newest pair of boots, the season’s favourite pastel, or a floral dress, GIFs allow motion and close view into your products. Use them wisely but don’t overdo them.

Explain how-to

From using your app’s new features to mixing and matching garments, GIFs allow motion pictures without the expense of a how-to video.

Make your emails more interesting

By replacing still images with GIFs, your emails can be more engaging. Imagine the barrage of emails that you get from online furniture stores or apartment builders. Wouldn’t GIFs gives their emails a touch more of reality and even aspiration if you could see spaces transform in an animated GIF?

Use it as social media or banner advertising copy

Again, it is a format that grabs eyeballs. If you already have visuals for a video, whiteboard animation, or image, try playing with GIFs to increase your click through rate.

These are just a few use cases where GIFs can replace still images and cost dramatically less than videos. Keep it as an option every time you need to use visuals; explore what else you can do with it. Get creative!

How do I make GIFs?

For brand marketers, the best thing about GIF is that they can be made free of cost on a large number of kind GIF making websites. Here are a few:


Whether you want to convert a YouTube video to GIF or want to play around with your Instagram post, Gif.com lets you create good quality animated GIFs from just a URL.

Giphy GIF Maker

Not only is Giphy one of the largest collections of all kinds of entertaining and engaging GIFs, it also lets you create GIFs from videos files and URLs. It even lets you make a slideshow using still images by simply dragging and dropping image files.

Make A GIF

Make A GIF is a one-stop shop for free GIF. From image files to YouTube URLs, video files to webcam shoots, the website offers many ways to create creative GIF files for your social media handles. Make A Gif also have a premium membership as low as USD 5 per month, which lets you add your brand watermarks, promote your brand’s social media handles, automatic resizing for different handles along with several other offerings.

The best thing about GIFs is just how much they let you do in comparison to what you pay or the effort you put. Start with one today.

For more ideas and inspiration on GIFs and the larger digital creative and design space, read on:

  1. [App Fridays] Will GIFs be the ‘go-to language’ for millennials? Bobble Keyboard believes so
  2. Digital Design Thinking
  3. Fuelling Campaign Creative
  4. Ethnography, ecosystems, and exponential change: 16 tips for crafting better digital experiences
  5. Design is the differentiator