Why GIF?

February 12, 2024
David Sunnyside

When CompuServe engineer Steve Wilhite introduced the GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) in 1987, he probably wasn’t thinking about bringing fun to the internet. After all, the web wasn’t even born yet, and his employer was focused on providing online services for a bunch of self-contained computer networks that eventually grew into one.

But as the internet has grown up, so too has the gif. Despite the existence of higher-level web technology like Flash animation and early JavaScript, gifs have remained popular and outlasted many similar trends, including one that spawned a whole debate over how to pronounce the word (hint: it’s GIF, not GiF).

In addition to their ability to convey a variety of emotions or reactions, gifs are also useful for demonstrating how something works or making a joke. This makes them a great tool for brand marketers who want to provide helpful content that adds value to their audiences.

What’s more, gifs are easy to share on social media and messaging apps, making them an effective way to reach a large audience quickly and effectively. This versatility and widespread appeal makes gifs an important part of any digital marketing strategy.

Whether you’re using them to deliver a message, make a point or just to laugh, you can bet that your audience will see and enjoy them. So, if you’re asking “but why gif?”, the answer is simple: because it’s an important part of our internet’s history and culture, and it has staying power that other trends won’t.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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