Branding. While we tend to think of it as a relatively recent, post industrial revolution phenomenon, the practice of branding, visual identification systems and trademarking has been around since the earliest days of human history when goods were first created, traded and sold. In ancient times, craftsmen used symbols, images and pictorials to convey a product’s origins and quality, to a largely illiterate consumer base.
Fast forward a few thousand years … to a rapidly changing digital landscape, where brands compete for the attention of consumers who, while no longer illiterate, are ingesting information and multiple messages at an increasingly frenetic rate, on a wide array of devices, from laptops to mobile phones and wearable technology. Today, more than ever, there is a growing demand for simple, concise communication of functional and emotional information.
Enter the emoji, those wildly popular digital images used to efficiently and effectively express a universal idea or emotion. With 4 in 10 millennials preferring pictures to words when it comes to communication (according to a 2015 Deep Focus report), the emoji has also become a powerful branding tool, transcending the barriers of language and culture to engage quickly with consumers on a more personalized, emotive level.
Savvy brands are quickly learning to communicate the way their consumers do, which means staying relevant through creative use of digital, social media and even emoji branding.
Twitter saw its first paid brand emoji this past fall, with the “Share a Coke” image of two bottles clinking, and a number of brand leaders have been using emojis as an entry point to connect consumers to their content, and enter their conversations.
The media release for Chevrolet’s 2016 Cruze, communicated entirely in emojis, generated buzz, as did Taco Bell’s petition for a taco emoji, Mentos' Ementicons and Miracle Grow’s Springmoji.
Pepsi even declared a National Emoji day in 2015, creating content and embellishing their packs with smiley face emojis. Oreo’s Bonding Emoji campaign in China generated a staggering 1.9 billion impressions on leading social media networks and Domino’s even introduced Emoji Ordering, where consumers could order a pizza by tweeting a pizza slice emoji to the restaurant.
As with every brand building initiative, companies must ensure that messaging is consistent, differentiated, relevant and reflective of a brand’s personality, look and feel.
In the case of emojis, success rests on creating an engaging, personalized and entertaining presence that complements the personal experience for users. Brands need to put thought into how their emojis might actually be used in a digital conversation, and insert themselves in a clever, fun, natural and unobtrusive way.
In short, get it right, 👍 and watch your brand 💖 blossom.