(P.S. if you say JIF you're just downright wrong.)

Let’s talk about the kitten elephant in the room. GIFs. They’re everywhere. Blogs. Emails. Texts. But should they be in your marketing material?

You’ve seen brands use GIFs for a while. Maybe you’ve even considered using them in your own marketing content, but just don’t know how.

Good news. We hereby give you permission to start using GIFs.

And with a deft touch you can sprinkle them into your brand and still keep things perfectly perfesh.

As attention spans shorten and content space gets more competitive, brands are fighting harder to be seen–and remembered–by their audience.

Marketers have to capture their attention, make a positive impression, nudge them towards your product, and make sure they don’t forget you all in a matter of a few seconds.


No problem, right?

We got you.

Why you should be using GIFs

1. GIFs are memorable

It’s no secret your audience has a vanishingly small attention span (think: goldfish). How on earth does a marketer deal with that? According to Hubspot, when people hear information, they only remember 10% after three days.

But when that information is paired with a (relevant) visual, people will retain 65% of that same information. Not to mention visual content is 40x more likely to be shared on social networks, and content with visuals gets 94% more views. That’s pretty impressive. Visual content (like GIFs) is so memorable because our brains process it 60,000x faster than text.

I know, woah.

2.GIFs add a dash of personality

People like to do business with people. GIFs add a personal touch to your messaging. They show that there are, gasp, REAL humans behind the brand. And yes, there’s always the risk that GIFs will turn off some customers, but others will like you even more. With 300 million people sharing 2 billion GIFs every day, it’s safe to say that people like them.

3.You can create GIFs. Yes, you!

Gone are the days of needing advanced video editing skills to create animation. If you want to create a custom GIF for your company, you’ve got this. There are hundreds of GIF makers out there, GIPHY has a very user-friendly one. All you need to do is upload a series of static images, and wham-bam you’ve got yourself a custom GIF.

This engaging GIF from Marie Claire is just a few images strung together. But it makes quite an impression.

Don’t even have photos? No problemo. GIFs can also be made with rotating text telling a story, like this one from Videozyme.

With all these options, you’re no longer limited to the GIFs you can find with a quick Google search... although those are fun too...

Since you’ve read this far you’re probably savvy enough to get started using GIFs in your content. Here’s what you need to remember:

Keep your Brand in Mind

All companies can use GIFs in their marketing materials.

Do you hear me? All. Companies.

But...you do have to be careful.

There are so many niches, memes, micro-memes in internet culture that it’s easy to accidentally be tonedeaf... and get called out for it. The bigger your brand, the scarier this is. Don’t lose sight of who you are as a brand. To help, knowyourmeme.com is a great place to get the backstory on a GIF and ensure you’re not stepping into a minefield.

Different types of GIFs (for different types of brands)

Don’t worry, if your brand is a little more conservative, you’re not out of the GIF game, my friend.

GIFs aren’t just cats and reactions, they can be short animations that bring some of the delight of GIFs (short, repeated movies) to your brand in a controlled way.

Dell launched a GIF email campaign and experienced a 42% increase in click rate and 109% increase in revenue on the product. The campaign wasn’t a cat jumping off a table or a tv character winking handsomely into the camera, it was just a simple visual mockup of their XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook. It was perfectly on brand, and on the minds of their customers.

These subtly animated illustrations have become recognizable by Starbucks lovers everywhere. Starbucks uses these GIFs to introduce new products, and sell you on old ones. And it works. I kinda want one now, don’t you?

Men’s Health ran a GIF campaign to teach their audience workout moves. This has an extra layer of awesome because they can regularly post new #Moveoftheday GIFs. Content that creates itself is pretty nifty.

Who recognizes the Bubbly logo? As a committed La Croix drinker, not me. This is Bubbly’s way of building up brand recognition, one GIF at a time.

GIFs also do a great job of humanizing brands. They can show reactions you'd use in normal chat, or they can feature real people from your company.

Hootsuite uses GIFs in their customer conversations. It makes the responses feel a little more personal and not like they're coming from a giant, faceless company.

This GIF from Gap is genius because now I want to buy the dress AND the belt AND the shoes, since I know they look good together.

This Huffington Post GIF shows us how to tie a scarf into a headband. It makes so much sense watching the turotial, but how tricky would it be to try and explain that in words?

Social Media, Email, Landing Pages, Oh My!

I bet you’re thinking now, hmm I’m SOLD. But where can I put my new, super amazing viral GIFs? Well, just about anywhere, that’s the beauty. GIFs are a compressed motion image format. This means that you have the storytelling power of a moving video, with the compatibility of a photo. Unlike videos, which have all those pesky file format, buffering, and coding problems, you can pretty much drop a GIF anywhere. Plus, GIFs are protected from copyright claims under the fair use doctrine. So you can breathe a little easy while watching your GIFs go viral.

And since GIFs are so universal, you can use them in a healthy variety of marketing materials.

Landing Pages

An increasing number of companies are using GIFs on their landing pages. This landing page for Instapaper shows you all you need to know about the product. But it does so while keeping the clean personality of the brand in tact.

InVision uses GIFs on their homepage to add a simple, beautiful effect that feels achievable by anyone using their software.


GIFs are a great way to spice up your email campaigns, especially because not all email clients support video. Anthropologie added this GIF to an email to showcase the different rug patterns they offer. It’s a beautifully simple way of illustrating the variety they carry.

Another genius way to use a GIF in an email is to get people to click click click! Ann Taylor’s holiday email uses this shaking present to guide the customer to opening the email. Who wouldn’t want to see what’s in the box?

Clearly, there are tons of ways and places to use GIFs in your marketing materials. But don’t stop there. Have fun! Experiment! Only you know what’s best for your company.


“Before, GIFs were dressing up the content, but now the GIF itself has become the destination” - Jason Eppink, Curator of Digital Media at the Museum of Moving Images

Now go forth. GIF away.