The GIF is still seeing a surge in popularity with the rise of emojis, memes and stickers. And while its cousin, short-form video, is having its time in the spotlight thanks to the rise of TikTok, GIFs remain nonetheless a very viable and popular alternative for brands looking to quickly convey messages.
The relatively recent uptake of video has also prompted some brands to adopt a kind of hybrid approach that settles somewhere in between – short looping animation set to audio.
With such a huge number of moving images and videos demanding our attention throughout the day, it’s harder than ever for marketers to make theirs stand out from the crowd, especially on platforms like Instagram. I’ve compiled some of the most creative and effective examples of GIFs and looping videos by prominent brands below.
Meditation and wellness app Calm uses looping video on social media to lead its followers in micro-meditation. Typically, its content consists of simple, symmetrical imagery – either animated or photographic – to help viewers focus and practice deep breathing while scrolling through social feeds.
Having stumbled upon some of these myself while aimlessly browsing Instagram, these videos make wonderful short respites as a result of the combination of soothing audio and calming ambient colours. In theory, followers can spend as much or as little time as they like focusing on their breathing, or simply having a time-out, thanks to auto-looping on mobile.
It’s a unique and innovative way to use moving images to underpin brand purpose and tie in with similar imagery found on the app.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Google has produced some incredibly slick, almost hypnotic GIFs on social, demonstrating the brand’s dedication to aesthetics. Each has been created quite differently with a particular audience in mind, and yet there is a seamless consistency that ties in with the company’s branding. Below are two such examples from 2018 that I think are worth revisiting.
The first promotes a science fair targeted at young inventors, featuring a myriad of colourful wooden shapes reminiscent of a completed school project.
The second is quite minimal – the use of 3D space in this animation is more refined and lends itself to promoting immersive events such as Google Home Mini Golf.
Most recently, the brand has been using more photographs and less illustration on its Instagram feed – perhaps in response to the events of the past year. While Google has been increasingly mixing up its feed with more short-form video, reflective of the fast-paced evolution of social media, its GIFs are still as polished as ever.
Take a look at this particular example which, along with other similar content, aims to provide viewers with a snapshot of the changes in search behaviour on Google throughout 2020.
Deciem – the umbrella brand for more than 10 beauty brands including cult favourite The Ordinary – integrates its trademark whitewash aesthetic with eye-catching GIFs on social media.
Alongside its other imagery and video content, its GIFs reflect the scientific, clinical branding recognised by skincare addicts the world over, featuring monotonal photography broken up with bold text and shapes. Since skincare blew up in the face of the pandemic, helped in part by the increasing popularity of self-care and TikTok trends in spring/summer 2020, the brand has made every effort to inform and educate its fans about common skin concerns, its popular ingredients and scientifically proven benefits.
Below are some especially brilliant examples of how Deciem has achieved this in an engaging way, using imagery to capture attention and complement the in-depth informative captions below them.
Disruptive banking brand Monzo animates parts of its striking illustrations to draw attention to the perks customers can take advantage of if they sign up for its premium service. While the animation itself is relatively simple, it really enhances the brand’s modern, colourful aesthetic and helps to draw the eye to important details.
Monzo puts the mobile interface and its (now iconic) bank cards front and centre of almost every piece of visual content it posts to strengthen its positioning as a tech-forward challenger brand to more traditional banks.
In this example, the brand cleverly and succinctly sums up all the need-to-know information about its travel insurance partnership in a single image.
Throughout the 2020 festive season in particular, Starbucks promoted its very popular seasonal drinks menu with a nice mixture of both animated photography and whimsical illustration to capture the characteristics of each beverage in question.
With many posts heavily featuring the brand’s limited-edition red cups, its looping videos draw focus to one or two key ingredients in exaggerated ways, whether to highlight alternatives for those with dietary requirements or replicate the mouth-watering effects of favourites like the Toffee Nut Latte.
Despite distinct differences between these two styles of animation above, the consistency of the classic red colouring, and the central focus on the cup tie both of them with the wider brand very nicely.
6. Yo! Sushi
Yo! deconstructs its sushi to focus on core ingredients through playful (and sometimes informative) GIFs. Bright colours and a nostalgic stop-motion style of animation reflects the brand’s upbeat tone of voice, while the simplicity of the imagery reinforces honesty, transparency and its positioning as a brand that appeals to all ages.
After a tough year last year, it’s particularly worth noting how Yo! has used looping video to attract attention to important information about its restaurants, promote at-home giveaways and keep followers otherwise entertained while they are unable to reopen.
PayPal’s looping videos highlight and showcase user generated content by adding colours and shapes that match the visual style of the brand.
Typically, user generated content (particularly copy based submissions with little visual appeal) are withheld by brands for use on more transitory areas of social platforms like Instagram Stories. It’s really refreshing to see PayPal have taken the decision to spruce these up and add them to its main feed as a way of involving its customers in a more forthright way.
By including entertaining snippets like this one, PayPal proves that is not only actively listening to its followers but is also inviting them to engage in discussion with the brand.
On Instagram, Salesforce acquires the help of the familiar characters its customers have come to know and love as part of the company’s wider branding efforts.
Both its imagery and video content focus strongly on its mascots which creates a real consistency throughout the brand’s feed. Incredibly well designed, and dare I say it, endearing, these characters are used in short clips as a method of conveying narratives or important messages about Salesforce capability and features. With its appealing, slick 3D effects, the end result is a charming way to encourage discussion around the pretty dry topic that is software.
Here, for example, we can see Astro in a state of blissful meditation.
9. Southern Comfort
Over the past several months, Southern Comfort has put much of its energy into advertising ways its customers and followers can get the same great experience from its spirits while being unable to venture into bars and restaurants.
In its content, bright exotic colours, crisp photography and quirky animated elements come together to draw attention to cocktail recipes that consumers can make for themselves in the comfort (no pun intended) of their own homes.
Accompanied by a step-by-step guide in the comments for each featured drink, these GIFs and videos are a lot of fun to look at and provide viewers with some spectacular serving suggestions.
10. British Bake Off
Anyone who follows GBBO on social will know that its accounts are very active whilst the show is broadcast (and even when it’s not). Clearly, its design and marketing teams prepare plenty of content in advance, including anything from stunning food photography to memes and looping video.
Aside from the generous amount of close-captioned clips taken straight from filming, there has been some pretty creative content thrown in for good measure. The consistent use of colour and bold typeface echoes the feel-good atmosphere the show brings while updating their online following on live developments in a punchy and practical manner. A dash of classic GBBO humour never goes amiss, either!
Are there any brands you have seen using looping video creatively? Let us know in the comments below!