Which Type of GIF is Best For Your Brand?

At Giflytics, we are often asked what the differences are between different types of GIFs. Many brands that we work with want to understand the different types of GIFs, and what type they should be using. In reality, brands should be utilizing all types of GIFs to better maximize their engagement across all channels with multiple consumer demographics. If you’re just getting started with GIF marketing, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the different types of GIFs and understand which format will help you achieve your marketing goals. In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of GIFs and how each can help your brand reach and engage consumers in a unique way.

There are a lot of different types of GIFs. For simplicity, we classify the different types of GIFs into 3 major categories: video-based, animation-based, and stickers.

Video-based GIFs are the most traditional GIF that you’re probably familiar with. They feature short clips of video content. 

Animation-based GIFs are similar to video-based, the difference being the content of the GIF is usually an illustration or image that has been animated using an animation tool like Adobe After Effects. 

GIF Stickers are usually animated illustrations, images, or text blocks that always have a transparent background. They are typically used as an overlay on top of a picture or video, which is why they are called “stickers”.

Video-based GIFs

Video-based GIFs have historically been the most popular GIF format. This GIF type is great for creating hilarious memes that are addictively shareable and short clips that convey emotion. This GIF format is found in almost all corners of the internet and has been a favorite for marketers to use in emails, blog posts, websites, and forums. It’s also widely used by everyday people in messaging conversations in most major messaging and social media apps. Video-based GIFs are often used as “reaction GIFs” in messaging conversations.

For brands, video-based GIFs can be very simple to create. You can simply take your best video content and convert it into short video clips that are playful and convey a clear emotion or message. This makes the video-based GIF format the lowest barrier to entry into GIF marketing for brands with existing video content. This is an especially good format for marketing TV shows, movies, or any business based around video and media.

The  Hobbs and Shaw movie found success to the tune of 40 million views of their reaction GIFs to promote the movie premiere.

NBC created GIFs for Friends, one of their most successful television shows. Even though the show hasn’t created any new episodes in over 15 years, its GIFs allow fans of the show to express themselves in messagings conversations by sharing clips of their favorite characters and scenes from the show. It also allows the show to gain exposure with a younger audience who may not have seen the show before. To date, the Friends GIPHY channel has generated over 1 billion views.

Video-based GIFs are right for you if:

  1. You want to reach consumers in their conversations in messaging apps
  2. You have existing video content, or have the capability to easily produce video content 
  3. You want to help your target demographic express their emotions, especially reactions, with your brand (ex: great, love, sorry, evil laugh)

Animation-based GIFs

Animation-based GIFs are similar to video-based GIFs in the way the are distributed and used. They usually take more effort to create than video-based GIFs but offer more flexibility in ways to get your message across in a fun way.

Many brands use animation-based GIFs to create visuals that can’t be expressed with video. This GIF format is very popular because they are often playful and not “too human”. For example, sending a video-based GIF of two people snuggling may be a bit too much (read: creepy) to send to a love interest after just one date. But a GIF of a can of Pepsi and a cute smiling burrito cuddling on a couch, comes across as a cuter, more lighthearted message. 

You can’t help but smile at this adorable snuggle session

Animation-based GIFs are right for you if:

  1. You want to reach consumers in their conversations in messaging apps
  2. You want to express your brand or message in a creative and playful way
  3. You want to help your target demographic use your brand to get their message across in a fun way in messaging conversations

Sticker GIFs

Stickers are much more different than video and animation based GIFs, or as some like to call them “rectangular GIFs”. Unlike their symmetrical cousins, Sticker GIFs can take any shape or form they please. They aren’t constrained to just messaging conversations, so they don’t need to look like a standard photo or video that you would share in a messaging app or on social. Sticker GIFs are a lot like stickers in real life -- you put them on stuff. Digital stickers are primarily overlaid onto images or video that people share on social media in a “Story” format, but can also be used in messaging apps. The growth of Stories on Instagram and Snapchat has led to a boom in GIF stickers.

When video and animation-based GIFs are shared between people, the GIF usually doesn’t require any supporting text or images. The GIF itself is the message. Stickers are different in that they are used to enhance existing images or video content as a way to add additional emotion or further communicate the message of the image or video. Social media users often use GIF Stickers when they are posting content to their Story. This creates a unique opportunity for brands on social. By creating lightly branded GIF Stickers you can enable your existing customers to share your brand with all their followers, and have an opportunity to get non-customers to have a positive interaction with your brand by using it in the form of a Sticker to enhance the content that they are already sharing on social.

The Dunkin’ “Good Morning” GIF Sticker is lightly branded and playful enough to encourage a social media user to use this Sticker when they post an Instagram Story in the morning. Maybe that user is aware that they are posting a Dunkin GIF and specifically used it to pair it with a picture of their morning coffee. Or maybe a user is just looking for a “good morning” GIF and chooses to use the Dunkin’ GIF even though the content they are sharing does not relate to the brand. 

Realistically, Dunkin’ could have potentially had more success with this GIF if they omitted the “DD” logo from the bottom. Since their brand colors, typeface, and the donuts are enough to subliminally remind a consumer about Dunkin’. However, if your brand isn’t as recognizable as Dunkin’, you may want to add your logo as long as it’s not too distracting.

Sticker GIFs are right for you if:

  1. You want to reach consumers on social media, specifically on social platforms that have a “Story” feature
  2. You want to create another touch point with consumers on social
  3. You want to enable consumers to share your brand with their followers on social

Eventually, you will want to expand your GIF presence and maximize engagement by using all three types. But if you’re just getting started with GIFs as a marketing channel to engage consumers in a unique and fun way, you’ll want to make sure you start with the GIF type that is right for your marketing goals.

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