Thought Leadership
  • Content marketing

Humour and smiles shine through: Emojis are everywhere

Paul Button
18th April 2016

Why it could be considered the world’s fastest growing language…

Is anything else as characteristic of the social media-obsessed, smartphone-owning, constantly-connected age that we are currently living in, as emojis?

Emojis - in case you’ve been living on a different planet - are pictographs used to share emotions without using any words.

As a cultural phenomenon they aren’t just confined to our phone screens, emojis have appeared anywhere and everywhere from Chanel handbags to Drake’s arm.

Emojis take over

People are using emojis to write stories, conduct political interviews and even translate classic literature. The takeover of the round, yellow faces & co is so complete that the ‘crying with joy’ emoji was chosen as the 2015 word of the year by the Oxford Dictionary.

No, this is not a dystopia. With 92% of all internet users claiming to use emojis, it could be considered the world’s fastest growing language.

Despite this, it is too easy to dismiss as ridiculous - after all, did we really endure 5,000 years of progress, only to go back to communicating in pictures? - but this emotional shorthand can be a useful way for brands to communicate with a young, global audience.

Copywriters everywhere are banging their heads on their desks because emojis have stolen their jobs

McDonalds, Chevrolet and IKEA, are just a few brands that have created emoji-focused campaigns in the last year to help communicate and spread messages of love and approval.

While copywriters everywhere are banging their heads on their desks because emojis have stolen their jobs, some realise that there's potential for valuable communication in their happy/angry/sad little faces.

An emoji is worth a thousand words (approximately)

For one, emojis are a great way to get around Twitter’s character limit, as demonstrated in this comparison between two tweets from October 14th.

Pictures are recognised much faster than images, so replacing words with symbols can help people to better process the Tweets on a rapidly updating Twitter feed.


Secondly, they are a great stand in for real facial expression as people increasingly connect with each other through their screens. Studies have even shown that looking at a smiley face online triggers the same brain response as looking at a happy face in real life.

This is big for brands wanting to create personal relationships with their followers through social media community management. The simple act of using smiley or heart eye face (its technical name) can help a brand reach more people, on a more personal level, with less effort.

Furthermore, emojis can reach a global audience by speaking to young people in their own language, with no actual language skills required.

Brands are even creating their very own emoji keyboards. IKEA’s keyboard included a tower of meatballs with a Swedish flag at the top (think of the possibilities!) and WWF created an endangered species keyboard to highlight and raise money for animals at risk from extinction.

House of Emojis: a step too far?

We get it, everyone loves emojis. But how far is too far? Earlier this year, House of Fraser participated in a bizarre emoji-led social media campaign which prompted some of their followers to wonder if they had been hacked. So awful, it was enough to make you #emojinal.

These #emojifails are surely inevitable as brands, and the world, figure out how to use this new digital language.

Over the next few years I expect an answer for all the pressing questions – like what context is it necessary to use the emoji of the poo with a smiley face? And when will we finally see a vomiting emoji?

Only time, and a new iOS update, will tell.

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