First things first. Before you find out about the growing and changing use of emojis, you have to know what an emoji is. It’s a small digital image or icon (a pictograph) used to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communication. Emojis, which come in a vast range of shapes, colors and motifs, started in the late 1990s in Japanese electronic messages and spread across the world. They have become common and are now included in Apple and Android operating systems.
You should also note that emojis and emoticons are not the same and should not be confused. Unlike an emoji, that is a digital image or pictograph, an emoticon is a representation of a facial expression such as “:-)” (representing a smile), formed by various combinations of keyboard characters and used in electronic communications to convey the writer’s feelings or intended tone.
The Guardian reports, “To complicate matters, some emoji are also emoticons. The standard for the characters breaks them apart into sets by theme. Most are filed under Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs, but the emoji which depict emotive faces are separated out as emoticons.”
Emojis, millenials and Gen-Z (oh my)!
Everyone knows that brands have been pursuing the millennial market for their size, influence, growing incomes, and their insatiable appetite for digital media. But that’s changing in 2015, as the eldest millennials are well into their 30s and marketers are shifting their attention to Generation Z (those born just before the turn of the century).
These Gen Z-ers grew up in our social, mobile and digitally-connected world, where they communicate with text messages and, increasingly, with emojis—single images that convey emotion such as a wink, a smile, or a heart.
What using emojis says about your brand
Not to be left behind, brands are turning to emojis to speak the language Gen-Z understands and uses every day on their smart phones and tablets. Using emojis says brand marketers are:
- Up on the latest communications trends
- Communicating their messages (even complex ones) in elegantly simple ways
- Breaking through the clutter of information vying for customer attention and connecting to their audience with short, real, emotional images
- Transcending language barriers, allowing universal communications across borders (everyone understands a smilely face, right?)
Emojis have been at work in brand campaigns
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But, when it comes to emojis the results from around the world speak for themselves…and are worth millions in terms of words and dollars!
In the past year or so, dozens of brands started testing marketing with emojis. Here are just a few examples:
- Oreos launched a mobile marketing campaign in China. The campaign asked parents to take photos of themselves and their children and to paste them on to dancing emojis. In less than three months, the campaign generated nearly 100 million emojis. 10 million emojiswere shared on chatting service WeeChat and nearly 2 billion impressions were made across WeeChat.
- In March 2014, Peta launched an emoji campaign aptly-named “Beyond Words,” aimed at increasing engagement with their target audience in the United Kingdom. Peta sent a text asking people to text back a heart emoji. There were some amazing results. Respondents automatically opted in to receive Peta mobile alerts, were invited to re-Tweet the campaign video on Twitter, and shared campaign related posts.
- More recently, General Electric launched a fun ad involving an emoji campaign to explain the “science” behind emojis. The campaign included a microsite and a Twitter invitation, the campaign invited participants to send any emoji to their snapchat account to see their “periodic table of emoji.”
- Even Budweiser’s flagship light beer Bud Light got into the emoji act last summer wishing everyone a Happy Fourth on Twitter with an entire flag made of emojis.
- Taco Bell’s campaign asked customers to petition the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit that regulates the coding standards for written computer text that includes emojis, to accept its new taco emoji.
- Mint brand Mentos, long known for its catchy jingle, released its own so-called Ementicons, which it calls “a fresh new way to express yourself.” Each face is itself on a Mentos candy.
- Ikea Netherlands released a video announcing Ikea emoticons to “[improve] communication at home.” Ikea emoticon options include furniture, pets, and Swedish meatballs.
- Miracle-Gro wanted to celebrate the first day of spring with a first-of-its-kind #Springmoji garden, “designed to get consumers excited about planting, regardless of their current weather conditions.”
The emerging emoji evolution
As soon as any new content marketing vehicle becomes popular, more and more marketers want to jump on the bandwagon. It stands to reason that the more consumers that are using emojis, the more marketers will join in and try emojis with their own target audience.
While it’s too early to tell if emojis will be highly successful for everyone, their popularity and growth seems to indicate that they are the wave of the future. Many marketers agree that it’s only a matter of time before emojis become mainstream.
Want to know how to effectively integrate emojis into your own marketing communications? Talk to Solamar…we’ve got the experts who speak emoji in the language you and your customers can understand.