If GIFs are the lingua franca of the Internet, Giphy is its Webster's. The New York startup has gone from a GIF search engine to a popular GIF-making platform and plug-in valued at an estimated $300 million. But how do you take something animated like a GIF and bring it out into the real world, as part of a brand identity? You rely on '80s Trapper Keeper technology.
Designed by Dark Igloo, the physical elements of Giphy's brand identity— including business cards, posters, iPhone cases, and other kinds of brand swag—all use lenticular holograms to bring GIFs into real life. The GIFs were provided by popular GIF artists like Animated Text, Julian Glander, Kidmograph, and Skip Hursh, among others. They're designed, Dark Igloo says, to "melt your face off."
"When you're a company that deals solely in animation, the big challenge is getting that across in real life," says Dark Igloo cofounder Mark Richard Miller. So considering the fact that GIFs date all the way back to 1987, what better way to bring them into the physical world using the analog printing technology of that era? And they're not even that expensive, all things considered. They cost less than a buck each to print—more than what you'd pay ordering business cards from Moo.com, sure, but less than what you might pay if you went nuts with a letterpress.
Dark Igloo has been working on Giphy's brand identity and design language for three years, and it's a big part of why the GIF search engine has the '80s vibe it has, right down to the logo. "The GIF is an old file format, but it's going through this contemporary resurgence—maybe it never even went away," says Dark Igloo's other cofounder, Dave Franzese. "So that was the idea behind the logo: this low-res, 8-bit file format icon, dressed up in poppy contemporary colors and a blocky computer font."
Dark Igloo—"dark" is a portmanteau of Dave and Mark, while an igloo is supposed to be "the coolest place you can hang out"—says they're surprised how popular the Giphy identity has become. Even though Giphy itself only has about 70 employees, the Giphy logo pops up in popular media all the time, including in the new Wreck-It Ralph 2 trailer. And given their love of the '80s—just check out the insane web racing game they made for their website's contact page—they're proud to be a part of that.