Emojis are icons used in tweets, texts and other digital communications to help convey an emotion or illustrate a message.
They have long been a part of Unicode, the programming standard for characters and symbols that ensures people can read text across platforms (think Wingdings).
However, their popularity surged in 2011, when Apple released a stylised emoji keyboard as part of iOS 5, effectively treating them like another language.
Smartphone owners found they could communicate more quickly and effectively — or simply have fun — with these icons in text messages.
Twitter users realised a picture was worth a thousand words (or at least more than one regular character), and used emojis to pack more into 140-character tweet limits.
Emoji usage skyrocketed from there.
What does this mean for brands?
Getting on your customers’ wavelength is the key to forming prosperous relationships, so speaking the language of your target audience can seriously boost sales.
Now that emojis are part of people’s digital lexicon, you might want to consider whether they’d be a valuable addition to your brand communications.
But tread lightly: emoji marketing can come off as a desperate attempt to ‘get down with the kids’. This is something @BrandsSayingBae takes delight in mocking.
Plus, there are still some compatibility issues with emojis, especially on desktop. Platforms that don’t offer support display emojis a missing glyph symbol or replacement glyph like � in place of emojis, which means poor UX.
7 examples of creative emoji marketing
Emoji marketing works best for young, fun brands on mobile-centric platforms, but anyone has the ability to make it work — or crash and burn.
Below, you’ll find eight examples of creative emoji marketing. Take a look and see if you’re inspired to incorporate emojis into your brand communications.
1. From May 20th, Domino’s Pizza will allow US customers to place an order by tweeting the pizza emoji to @Dominos. A publicity stunt, or an effective way to boost long-term sales from time-poor, mobile-savvy customers?
Click here to read the USA Today article mentioned.
2. In Puerto Rico, Coca Cola launched emoji URLs in an attempt to connect with millennials. In the seven weeks from launch, EmotiCoke drove almost 90% of traffic to the local Coke website.
3. Bud Light got incredible Twitter engagement after tweeting this emoji mosaic of the American flag on Independence Day.
4. Ikea released its own emojis through a dedicated app. Spokesman Mark Ogertschnig said they could help the brand “become part of the everyday conversations of people”.
5. American fast food brand Taco Bell is petitioning The Unicode Consortium to create a taco emoji, and it’s attracted over 30,000 signatures.
Showing customers you care about the same things they do — no matter how inane — can be a great way to build valuable relationships.
6. Disney and Lucasfilm teamed up with Twitter to launch , which encourage people to tweet about the movie — and potentially get it trending.
7. Here, Starbucks takes advantage of a new Instagram feature that allows users to create emoji hashtags, encouraging engagement with the ‘love coffee’ hashtag.
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