Do you use emojis? Are you adding 1f485-nail-polish-apple-new-2015 to your tweets or using Face With Tears Of Joy in a message or post on Facebook? According to research from Luminoso in 2014, emojis became more popular than much more establish punctuation. Used to express emotions, to respond in a way that words alone might not be able to express, or just to say something as briefly as possible in a world that is time and character-pressured.

It is easy to dismiss emojis as just something that those Snapchat-ing, YouTube-ing millennials do. But more than being just a frivolous or amusing addition to a message or an update, emojis convey actual meaning; they have a genuine role to play in conveying information. The challenge with the written form is that much of what we might mean is lost – words alone are not used to say what we mean, the way we say it and the non-verbal cues we give in our voice, or with gestures (from our hands or face for example), convey much of what we actually mean. In text updates online, emojis play this role. They give us back something that has been missing from written communication in all forms.

Technology is making it easier for us to communicate what we actually mean when we use the written form. And that is a good thing, and what makes emojis exciting for everybody as well as for brands.

We have seen an increasing number of brands using emojis creatively in their marketing activities this year. From Domino’s emoji ordering service, which won the Titanium Grand Prix in Cannes, to Coca-Cola using emoji web addresses in Puerto Rico or a recent campaign on Twitter to give #NewMeaningsForEmojis. To date, much of this experimentation has been to use emojis creatively – and there is a role to play for this. But brands should begin to explore how they can be used in the way they are developing in broader society – as a way to convey meaning beyond the written word.

The natural domain for this is brands’ presences on social media – where emojis are naturally found. Here there is often a need for brands to convey more than they can in words – when they are responding to a positive brand comment or image, for example, or talking to someone who loves the brand. Here words can be an ineffective (and often clumsy) way of saying something. If somebody has shared a great image of their day at your entertainment venue maybe a brand response with just a ‘Thumbs Up’ or a ‘Smiling Face’ emoji says it all. It says more than just words would do, but also feels less formal than writing a post thanking them dearly for their kind image.

Emojis are genuinely changing the way we express meaning and emotion with the written word. As well as being used creatively in advertising by brands, there is a genuine opportunity for brands to use them as they are best used. To say things that words alone cannot.

Matt Rhodes

About Matt Rhodes

Head of Digital Strategy for work. Marathon runner and charity trustee for fun.

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