What Makes A Good Branded GIF?

GIF by Justin Gammon


This is a guest post by Casie Millhouse of Two Lane Social

A branded GIF is a GIF that is created with the purpose of spreading awareness for a brand by creating amazing content that people want to share that enriches their conversations. You probably use branded GIFs all the time, without even knowing it. The very best branded GIFs are lightly branded. So while the user may not know they are using a branded GIF, at a subliminal level the person is having a positive experience with your brand. 


“I don’t necessarily say it’s about awareness for the brand, I say it’s about awareness for the GIF”

The best branded GIFs focus on the content first and the brand second. If the content of the GIF is great it will be shared and seen by millions of people, and the brand awareness takes care of itself. If the GIF is too overly branded, it may get you some undeniable brand exposure, but most likely the number of views will be significantly less than a lightly branded GIF. Remember the point of a branded GIF is to be entertaining and add value to the conversations that they are used in, people don't want to send ads to their friends. When a GIF is overly branded you risk annoying the users, which is no better than advertising with a pre-roll ad or interruptive ad in between the content that people actually want to see. When creating a branded GIF for your brand or on behalf of a client, always ask yourself two questions: 

1. Would I use this GIF?

2. When would I use this GIF?


My digital marketing agency Two Lane, creates branded GIFs for marketing ourselves and our clients.


Before offering GIF marketing as a client service, I tested it with my own personal brand first. To make the content pop, I took inspiration from Marge Simpson and used a blue and yellow color palette to create a series of reaction GIFs for keywords I wanted to rank for, just to see if I could. The results were better than I expected. The GIFs were “Trending” on both GIPHY and Tenor shortly after launch and have pulled in over 40 million views across both platforms to date. 




We recently worked with a cryptocurrency company that was struggling to drive brand awareness using Facebook and Google Ads due to regulations around advertising cryptocurrencies. They already had an active community of over 70,000 people on Telegram that were sending GIFs back and forth in chat. We created a set of branded GIFs for the community to use in both the Telegram channel and with other friends and family in messaging apps. The GIFs were a wild success, they were being used daily within the company’s Telegram community and were “Trending” on GIPHY’s homepage due to the volume of usage upon release. To this day, I still see my friends and family using these GIFs. It's great because they don't know that our agency created the GIFs. That's how you know you've created something that is truly shareable and enjoyable, as all GIFs should be.

A lot of brands are already using GIFs to engage consumers, some better than others. My favorite branded GIFs right now are by Denny’s. The GIFs are great because they are funny and weird enough to have a certain shock value that makes you think, "I have to show this to someone". Most of the GIFs don’t even have Denny’s branding, but even the ones with Denny’s logo or branding do so in such a subtle way that it doesn’t detract from the GIF. This is one of the best examples of how a brand can use GIFs to create some really unique GIF content that is incredibly shareable and makes people laugh out loud as they watch the GIFs loop over and over.





For mornings when drinking coffee isn't enough, you have to bathe in it.



A GIF for early risers that hit the gym before breakfast



Weird, mesmerizing, and very lightly branded



People often ask about the best way to get started with branded GIFs. Many marketers and brand managers aren’t sure where to start. There are many different types of GIFs considering the different formats, different platforms, user intent, and creative direction. I always advise people to start by thinking about the type of people you want to attract and engage with your branded GIFs. Think about the different types of emotions you want your target demographic to feel when they are using your GIFs, or even better, what types of emotions they may be expressing that is relevant to your brand. If you are a food brand, you probably want to be there with an awesome GIF when people are talking about how hungry they are, or making plans about what to eat. 


Look at how you communicate with your friends and family, when are you using GIFs? What emotions do you communicate with GIFs in your own conversations? Chances are other people are using GIFs in a similar way to fit their needs in conversations. Create your GIF content to be a useful tool to enrich conversations. Most importantly, make sure the branded GIFs you create are something that you would naturally send to someone in conversation.