From the aubergine and smiling poo to the sanitary pad: the case of emoji

How these playful icons have become part of our socio-digital discourse and why brand marketers should start realising their appeal.

Whether we’re bridging communication gaps or if we’ve gone a tad too far with emoji – there’s no doubt they’re here to stay, for now at least.

With 1620 emoji (the emoji vs emojis debate is still ongoing by the way ?) included in the Unicode version 9.0 keyboard, these little pictographs have definitely transformed our digital discourse.

A few years ago, emoji probably made up the socio-mobile vernacular of teenage girls. Today, we’d all be lying if we said we’re not using them too, especially given that over 6 billion emoji are sent online, on a daily basis!

study from Emogi found that 92% of the online population uses emoji, with 60% of women using them frequently, contrary to 41% of men.

By making non-verbal cues available, which come naturally in face-to-face speech – gesture, facial expression, body language, speech intonation – emoji can be perceived as a vital form of punctuation in our digital discourse.

Since the digital communication context is rather different to our face-to-face encounters, all too often nuanced expression is absent. This is where the emoji can enrich assist in the conversation between brand and consumer, acting as a form of visual expression which has the capacity to humanise messages.

Using emoji actually places our addressees in a better position to interpret what our words are meant to convey, whether we’re texting a friend or socialising with followers.


Take it from the web’s most popular social platform:

In 2014, 28% of Facebook’s top brand pages used emoji in their posts. By 2015, that had jumped to 40%. In 2016, Facebook added reactions and introduced over 1200 emoji!

Emojified content can definitely be used to encourage fan engagement, with brands as huge as Pepsi, Disney, and Domino’s turning to emoji to connect with their audiences. Branded emoji are the new big thing, from celebs like Kim Kardashian and her own 400+ Kimoji to Hillary Clinton’s pant suit emoji!

Whether we like it or not, emoji have become part of the human interaction and brands that want to stay ahead of the game should start rethinking their social speech, especially as younger audiences, fully fluent in emoji discourse, become a larger part of our target audience, as well as express their desire for more (enter the #Femoji petition).


3 quick tips to keep in mind if you’re going to go down the emoji path:

  1. Use them to add value and relevance* to your message while retaining simplicity and functionality.

*Don’t use the ? (aubergine) emoji in your company post unless you know exactly what you are doing! ? (eek!)

  1. Cater to your followers* and always bear in mind that Boomers, Gen X and Millennials receive and perceive messages differently.

*Let’s be honest here, my dad will have a harder time deciphering an emoji message than myself, although he is definitely into emoticons!

  1. Don’t overdo it! Refrain from bombarding* your followers with emoji – just because they’re available doesn’t mean you should incorporate them in all forms and frequency of content.

*Frankly, we all get annoyed when all we see are emoji jam-packed posts.  


My advice would be err on the side of caution but do start experimenting because the way things are going who knows by the end of the week, us ladies might even get our own #Femojis out and rolling! If you’re not sure about how to integrate emoji into your marketing strategy, ? us at [email protected] and we’ll get your brand on the path to ✌!

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