Whether you’re running a brick-and-mortar business, a software company, or pursuing a creative entrepreneurship project, your brand’s logo shouldn’t be a GIF.
What is a GIF?
Essentially, a GIF (an acronym for Graphics Interchange Format) is an image file like JPG/PNG that contains animation but no sound. As communication on the internet is now increasingly visual, they blend seamlessly into our digital lives.
After being introduced in 1987, the GIF has come a long way. They are fun, appealing, and a prime source of entertainment for internet users. Since 2011, Google trends show a sharp uptick in their interest.
No wonder Facebook allowed this engaging animated image format in their ads starting February 2021. It might make you feel that GIFs are worth experimenting with, even with your brand’s logo.
When it comes to representing your brand’s identity, are GIFs fit to replace the traditional logo?
Not so fast.
First, let’s look at the role of logos in building a small business. Then we’ll get to the problems with using GIFs as your logo. In the end, we’ll discuss if GIFs occupy any space in your ad campaigns.
Why is a logo important for a small business?
A logo conveys your brand’s identity and represents your values. It establishes your credibility and thought leadership in the industry. You can’t simply rely on your intuition to choose its composite elements like shape, color, and font.
For example, in 2005, Facebook was just starting. As per Josh Higgins, creative director at Facebook, the company wanted “the logo to feel grown up and to be taken seriously.”
A decade later, when Facebook was established, the logo was modernized to make it more “approachable and friendly.”
Note the subtle distinctions in their full logo below. The more nuanced differences are not so easily recognizable for the untrained eye.
The social media giant didn’t overhaul the design completely. It’s a symbol that users have become so used to that they can recognize it in the blink of an eye.
To create a sustainable business, you need to build a trustworthy brand identity. You want to persuade your target audience that you offer high-quality services and products.
Your logo is the little symbol that communicates this value proposition. Its design will showcase your brand identity across printed materials, your website, business cards, and the like.
Let’s explore the limitations of using a GIF as your logo.
Three problems with choosing a GIF as your business logo
Remember how sliders were the rage, and small businesses wanted to jump on the trend?
Well, it turns out, the data suggest against them.
Peep Laja, the founder of ConversionXL, claims that image sliders or carousels almost always convert poorly over static images. They overwhelm a visitor with too many messages, and banner blindness tends to set in.
Similarly, a GIF appears as the perfect digital marketing format to engage your audience. However, it’s a poor way to make your brand’s first impression. They are not a suitable defense barrier to guard you against your competition. Here are the top 3 problems with GIFs.
1. GIF images try to convey a lot of information
As they say, “a picture is equivalent to a thousand words.”
Giphy CEO, Alex Chung, extends the logic, “if the average GIF contains sixty frames then they’re capable of conveying 60,000 words.”
Woah, that’s a complete novel in there.
Wouldn’t such a moving image overwhelm a consumer?
It defeats the fundamental purpose of a logo: being simple and memorable.
For instance, look at the studio-based image maker David Rowland logo below. It starts with the shorthand “DD” and animates while changing colors into the full version.
Unless you’re a photographer, such animation is a little too much for your audience.
2. GIFs are not versatile and have limited use cases
Considering that 45% of small businesses still don’t have a website, a GIF logo presents many logistical limitations.
It’s not functional for display in your physical store. You can’t use it in your business collaterals like brochures, business cards, and other printed material. And you can forget those billboards and automobiles (unless you have a budget like Netflix to use GIFs in your outdoor advertising).
Lastly, GIFs also don’t load properly in email signatures as many email clients restrict animation.
As we can see, it’s difficult to scale a GIF image for various size ranges of your branded material. Hence, they are not effective in delivering your brand’s message.
3. GIF is an archaic image format
The GIF image standard uses 256 colors (8-bit channel) and uses the lossless LZW compression(patented).
On the other hand, the newer PNG format accommodates 16.9 million colors (24-bit color channel) and non-patented lossless compression. No wonder it’s the most used lossless format on the internet.
Is there a place for using GIFs in your brand’s strategy?
They are an exciting visual format that can increase engagement on your content. I encourage you to use GIFs on your homepage (and even on your landing pages and about pages), while promoting your products, in a blog post, or simply while promoting your content.
For example, if you’re promoting an upcoming webinar on Facebook, you can even convert your slide deck into GIFs using GifDeck. It could make for an engaging preview, as the On24 webinar GIF shows below:
Or even use GIFs for promoting your upcoming podcast episodes on directories such as Facebook, Instagram, and even your email list.
Sometimes latching on to new trends might not be the best for your brand. In the case of a logo, shaking things up by animating your images won’t be the best. They might end up looking cheesy or even not load appropriately on many websites.
What do you think about GIF logos? And how are you leveraging GIFs in your Facebook campaigns? Let me know in the comments below.