An illustration for an article on how to market using GIFs

GIF-wrapped audiences: How brands use GIFs to extend marketing reach

It probably wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to call the 2010s the “decade of the GIF”. GIFs are pretty much everywhere you look these days – from social media posts on Facebook and Twitter to corporate blogs and, now, even workplace communication spaces such as Slack.

But GIFs aren’t just fun, “nice-to-haves” for brands to use on social media. They can also play a key role in building your brand with audiences.

Why GIFs matter for marketing

GIFs are a perfect tool for marketing because they quickly communicate a feeling, reaction or opinion.

Want to let your Twitter followers know you’re fired up about your latest blog post? BAM! Supa Hot Fire’s ultimate rap battle win.


Trying to let a colleague know you’re unhappy with them being late for a meeting? BOOM! James Van Der Beek crying.


The beauty of GIFs is that they can be used for almost anything. Which means that, in a world where attention spans are shortening and competition for eyeballs is growing, GIFs are an incomparable way to grab – and hold – your audience’s attention.

Ways you can use GIFs in your marketing

Use other people’s GIFs

This one’s pretty obvious. We’ve all seen a social media account, blog post or Slack message with a GIF.

If you want to liven up your content, it’s as simple as making use of a GIF to illustrate your point – even if it’s not one you created yourself.

This is where tools for uploading, searching for and publishing GIFs (such as Giphy and other alternatives) can play such a huge role.

Just search for something that’s relevant and away you go into GIF paradise!

Create your own GIFs (for use as memes)

Here’s one that’s less obvious.

We all know how to publish GIFs on other channels. But those GIFs have to come from somewhere, right?

That’s why many brands have started creating brand channels on Giphy.

Take the Saturday Night Live Giphy channel for example. The long-running entertainment show has a lifetime of content from which to choose.

By making a habit of uploading GIFs to Giphy, SNL is allowing its brand to spread organically through users who are choosing to use their GIFs in their own posts.

That can work for your brand, too.

You might not have as much content (or be as popular) as SNL. But the principle remains the same: You can use people’s penchant for using GIFs on social media and other channels to help build your brand.


Use GIFs to show off a product or service

Most of us know GIFs by their most popular format: as memes. GIFs, in this vein, are used as a means of illustrating a larger point.

But GIFs can also serve another purpose – as mini-videos designed to highlight products or services.

Say, for example, you work for a software as a service (SaaS) company. You could use a GIF to demonstrate how a new feature of your product works. Or perhaps you’re a retailer that wants to show off a new brand of shoes you have in-store.

In this case, a GIF might be the best tool for showing your audience what it is and how they can use it.


GIFs aren’t just for TV shows and sporting events. Any brand can put GIFs to use in helping to build their brand with the audience they’re trying to reach.

How will you use them to reach yours?

Mark Brownlee is a digital marketing strategist in Ottawa, Canada.

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