101 Series: What Is a GIF?
What is a GIF? Surely you’ve heard the term. You might even recall hearing it years (and years) ago. GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format and Wikipedia defines it as:
a bitmap image format that was introduced by CompuServe in 1987 and has since come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web due to its wide support and portability. The format supports up to 8 bits per pixel thus allowing a single image to reference a palette of up to 256 distinct colors. The colors are chosen from the 24-bit RGB color space. It also supports animations and allows a separate palette of 256 colors for each frame.
For our purposes we are talking about an animated GIF. A GIF can also be a static image, though most people are referencing animated GIFs when they simply say “GIF.” For us, boiled down to its simplest form, a GIF is essentially an animated image.
Even though GIFs have been around for 25 years, the file format has seen a recent resurgence in popularity. This may be due to the (relatively) small file size, the rise of an increasingly visual oriented web, or the files ability to toe the line between image and video. GIFs are generally pop culture related, often focused on humor or attached to memes, and have proven to be huge drivers of web traffic. We’ve also seen the format become integrated in more traditional marketing.
Check out the previous installments of the 101 Series posts:
The Power of an Image
The May 21st issue of Time Magazine is generating an immense amount of buzz with this cover image for a parenting feature. After the cover was released, it exploded online, becoming a trending topic on Twitter, the subject of conversations in brand chats and was covered by major media. We’ve all heard that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” In this case, a picture is worth many many thousands of words.
What’s interesting is that much of the conversation is based on the actual cover image and not the actual story. Is the image shocking? Touching? Controversial? Natural? Everyone has an opinion. One thing is for sure, it’s powerful. Time is the hot topic of the moment, because of their choice of imagery. Images can capture what can’t be said in words. They can elicit emotion with just a glance. How powerful is this image, or this, or this one?
For brands, the use of imagery is more important than ever. No longer is an ad contained to TV or print. Now, it’ll be immortalized online, embedded on YouTube, shared on Facebook and Twitter. Imagery is powerful, but it can also be polarizing.
The United Colors of Benetton used controversial imagery in their UNHATE campaign, generating enormous buzz, ultimately leading to the ads being pulled. The World Wildlife Fund garnered a huge backlash over this ad. American Apparel pushed the envelope with their ads, sometimes leading to the ads being pulled or even banned.
In short: be creative, but be smart. Take into account who your audience is, and how different audiences may react. What does your imagery say about the brand, and is it serving the intended purpose?
Are there any images that stand out for your brand or otherwise? Let us know in the comments!