The 21st century has seen the rise of a new expressive, visual language.
Emojis have taken the 🌎 (world) by ☁️⚡️☔️ (storm)! No matter where you look to, emojis are always among us. We see them:
Taking over our text messages
Taking over our snaps on Snapchat
As cookies and confectionery
In the form of plush toys
… and embedded in fashion.
Related: “Emoji Among Us“
Watch this short docucomedy by stock footage company, Dissolve, featuring emoji as an inescapable part of our everyday lives.
Emojis are by no means a new invention, not by a long shot. They’ve actually been around since the late 90s (think back to emoticons and the laughing lady on MSN messenger), but it’s not until recently that their popularity skyrocketed.
Their popularity may well be attributed to our growing preference for pictorial communication. According to research by marketing agency, Deep Focus, 4 out of 10 millennials favour images over text, with 72% saying they found it easier to express their feelings through emojis. Adding in my two cents here, I too favour emojis over text. More specifically, it’s the ambiguous and subjective nature of emojis that I like.
We’re all familiar with the saying: a picture says a thousand words. Similarly, an emoji carries various meanings across different people and cultures. When an online translation company decided to put the emoji’s universality to the test amongst translators from 11 regions, the 💪 (flexed arm) emoji was interpreted as “bicep implants” and “smelly armpits” by the French Canadians and Arabic experts respectively.
Now, imagine a scenario where a mom asks her son via text message: “Did you change the lightbulb in the kitchen”, and the son replies with nothing but a “😉”. Here, the “😉” emoji carries a sense of uncertainty and diffuses the situation with humour. Considering this, the ambiguity that comes with emojis, then, makes it easier to convey messages that are otherwise too embarrassing or uncomfortable to say with words, and is great for diffusing awkward situations.
Related Article: 10 Emoji Meanings That Might Surprise You
Since their inception, emojis have revolutionized the way we communicate. In our conversations today:
1) We can better express our feelings through emojis: Emojis help set the tone faster and better. We can respond with either a “😳” or “🙈” to show that we’re embarrassed, or “😡” when we’re feeling frustrated.
2) Emojis have taken over Internet slang and abbreviations: Such as “😂” for “LOL” and “😱” for “OMG”. Instagram has observed that an increase in emoji use results in a decline in Internet slang.
3) We literally speak emoji: When an emoji is, for whatever reason, unavailable to us, many of us would rather verbally type the face of the emoji rather than explain how we feel in words – words like “sad face”, “drool face”, “kissy face”, etc., are familiar to our ears.
4) We use emojis in our captions and hashtags: Instagram discovered that nearly half of all captions and comments on Instagram feature an emoji.
Recently, brands have also jumped on the emoji bandwagon.
Domino’s, for example, created a lot of buzz when it introduced “tweet ordering”, which calls on its customers to order their pizzas by tweeting the pizza restaurant chain the pizza emoji (🍕).
Similarly, Chevrolet came up with a emoji marketing campaign to celebrate the reveal of the new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze. The campaign was created based on the notion that: “words alone can’t describe the new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze.”
Some brands even came up with their own (branded) emojis – Burger King rolled out a chicken-themed emoji keyboard to celebrate the return of chicken fries to its menu; Taco Bell had a taco emoji made; Star Wars and Coke have custom emojis available on Twitter.
Related Article: A Year in Emoji Marketing: How 16 Brands Used Emojis
There exists a huge opportunity for brands to use emoji in their marketing activities or messaging, and here are 5 reasons why brands that haven’t already considered their impact should get in on the act:
- Emojis are expressive, and as such allow us to say more with less.
- Emojis are engaging and attention-grabbing. When even a goldfish can hold a thought longer than the average person, getting people’s attention becomes the biggest challenge. Apart from generating awareness and interest, brands that use emojis in their marketing entice consumers to spend more time interacting with their content, which may then encourage consideration, memorability (which propels the brand to the top of consumers’ mind), and most importantly, word-of-mouth.
- The facial expressions and gestures communicated through emojis help set the tone much faster and more accurately compared to words, and at the same time add context.
- Emojis transcend language barriers. Emojis such as “😊”, “❤”, and “👍”, are universally understood, which makes communicating across borders easier for brands.
- Emojis resonate with the current generation of people. With most of their conversations taking place online, Gen Y and Gen Z are known for being increasingly mobile first. Furthermore, there’s a communication trend illustrating Gen Y and Z’s desire for emoticons and emojis. This just goes to show how essential emojis are in capturing the mobile generation.
Related Article: 10 messages that can only be adequately expressed with emoji
Our conversations are often more complex to convey purely through words. Sometimes it’s not what you say, but rather how you say it that matters – and emojis do the latter rather well. Presently, there are over 1,284 emoji characters available on the iPhone emoji keyboard, and with more on it’s way, you can bet emojis are here to stay.
It’s do or be forgotten. Emojis have become so vital that people are petitioning for emojis that don’t yet exist. And when almost half of history’s most educated generation would rather communicate through emojis than words, brands better get on board or be left in the dust.
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