Today is World Emoji Day 2018. And while the actual day may have no more cultural significance than World Donut Day, or Talk Like a Pirate Day, the emojis themselves have shifted our online communication dramatically.
A little emoji history
Let’s get this out of the way: the word emoji is adapted from a combination of the Japanese words ‘e,’ which translates to picture, and ‘moji’ meaning character . Obviously, ‘picture character’ isn’t quite as catchy as emoji, so you can see why the name stuck.
The very first ‘generation’ of emojis was released by the Japanese national carrier, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, way back in 1999. These very first set of 176 emoji were designed by Shigetaka Kurita. Today Kurita is officially recognized as the founder of emoji and his work has been added to the Museum of Modern Art Collection.
Around 2006, Google begins to convert Japanese emoji to Unicode private-use codes. Apple then released emojis as a part of iOS 2.2, but only to the Japanese market, as they were viewed as a niche tool. At that stage, for the rest of the world, it requires an app to get access. It wasn’t until about 2011 when Apple launched their mobile operating system iOS 5 that the emoji keyboard was available as a feature worldwide.
How the world grew to love emojis
You can probably remember the first time you received an emoji via text. It was likely a pleasant surprise and instantly intriguing. As soon as you see emojis, you recognize what the faces mean, and most of the symbols as well. Despite language barriers, there is almost no misunderstanding when using facial expression emojis. In fact, the Face with Tears of Joy emoji was announced as Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year in 2015.
Today there are 2,823 emojis in the Unicode Standard, and it is estimated that over 75% of women use emojis and over 60% of men. The highest users of emojis are in the 25-29-year-old age range. Overall, as much as 92% of the worlds population use emojis.
In a sense, it’s hard to dislike emojis, as they are tied into your human psyche. They are similar to hand gestures and facial expressions in real life communication. Emojis instantly add personality to a text conversation, which has little tone. On top of this, they are much more immediate in their communication. In one small image, you can convey an emotion, and add context to a story.
What do emojis mean for digital marketing?
As we learn to express ourselves in new ways through emojis, the brands that we use are also adapting. Since 2015, there has been a 775% increase in emojis used by brands around the world.
Dominos Pizza, a brand known for finding ways to innovate, offered a fun option to tweet a picture of a pizza to them, and they would place an order for you. It was reported that as many as 500 pizzas were ordered this way on the first day of the campaign.
McDonald’s also ran advertising campaigns depicting a story of a bad day getting better with a visit to their store. The visit was depicted with a simple McDonalds Fries emoji, rather than words.
The World Wildlife organization created an awareness campaign for endangered animals through 17 unique emojis. Through the Twitter campaign, they encouraged users to donate a small amount every time they retweeted one.
These are three creative examples, and there are many more simple ways to capture attention through emojis.
Match emojis to the voice of your brand
Of course, each business needs to consider how much their brand voice is a match for using emojis. If you have a fun, youthful or innovative brand, emojis may be a good fit. Glossier, for example, is a brand that enhances the tone of their posts perfectly with the emojis they choose.
It seems that the days of formal business practices are beginning to fade, as more workspaces adopt a casual dress code. Apple as a company has shown that a more relaxed approach to image and dress style can create relatability. For World Emoji Day 2018, the company has replaced their executive leadership team photos with Memoji faces.
Emojis are a personal communication tool that is starting to have more of an impact in the business world. For those of us that serve customers every day, there is a tendency towards informality as we get to know people better. If emojis work to connect on a more personal level, they can be a great tool to incorporate.
For your own business, adding a little more fun and personality through emojis may be a way to build interest and loyalty. People tend to do business with people that they like, so giving them more reasons to relate to you is a good start.