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From a Designer’s Perspective: Using GIFs and Emojis

We’re back this week with another designer’s perspective as we look at the growing popularity of GIFs and emojis. Last time, Shannon shared some thoughts and insights on what she uses for digital illustration and today we’re talking with Laura, the newest member of our design team, about a growing social media trend we all see and use.

What is the fascination with GIFs and emojis, how can businesses leverage them for marketing, and how does the creative team use them here at Sassafras? Read on as Laura breaks it down for us.

How are designers taking GIFs and emojis into consideration as they begin to tackle a project?

I think emojis have made designers rethink the pieces that they create. An emoji is nothing more than a symbol; a shape used to convey a message. People understand visuals much easier than text. Not only are emojis and GIFs a direct way to communicate, but the consumer is also more engaged because the message is being plainly stated in an efficient manner, without making them stop, take the time to read a message, and then comprehend the information that was presented. GIFs are able to communicate similarly but on a much higher level. Because they involve motion, they are much more intriguing and relatable. Think about the difference between seeing a photo of a winning touchdown and the 10-second replay. A picture is great, but a short video clip is able to capture the momentary struggle and triumph making it that much more appealing (and captivating) for the viewer.

How are they useful in marketing and advertising?

The average person spent 135 minutes per day on social media in 2017. Social media marketing is all about grabbing attention and delivering a quick, relatable message. Emojis and GIFs do just that. Not only are they visual, but relatable. They’re commonly used during text conversations and in social media posts…generally speaking, these platforms have similar audiences between the sender and receiver. Therefore, when a brand communicates using these strategies, it makes them that much more relevant to their consumer.

Do you think this trend is here to stay?

I think the trend is only going to continue to grow because now there are people walking on this earth that do not know life without smartphones and text messages. Compared to older generations that have had to adapt to technology and learn new techniques, it’s second nature to young consumers because it’s a way of communication they’ve literally never lived without, which will continue to propel its usage.

What inspires you when you are creating a GIF or emoji for a work project?

When I create pieces, especially icons, I want it to capture an audience in 5 seconds or less. I also try to think about the times I search for an emoji or GIF that doesn’t exist…there’s only so much you can convey through words without visuals.

As these are becoming more and more popular in our industry, what can Sassafras do to keep up with the trend?

Researching what is being used by the consumer and then leveraging that information to create simple relatable symbols/gifs that are easily shared. Incorporating them into our pieces and educating the client on why these tools are effective. Creating simple, relatable symbols that are easily shared for the brands we support.

If you could create your own, what would it be, what brand and where would you put it?

I think I would create a Starbucks to-go coffee cup; the brand boasts a seamless app and has a huge following on social media. Starbucks consumers organically support them each time they post a photo in-store, a selfie with a beverage in hand, etc. College campuses would be a great place to promote the app, especially if they have a Starbucks on the premises. Millennials and Gen Z are a huge market for them and a to-go Starbucks cup could be the perfect addition to a caffeinated study session selfie.


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