Transcending Language with Emojis

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One of this summer’s most anticipated movies features none other than the much loved, emoji. Since Apple launched the first emoji keyboard in 2011, they’ve spread like wildfire. Now, with mobile platforms supporting close to 2,000 emojis, the popularity of these little digital icons has allowed them to jump out of messaging apps and into real life, finding their way into every corner of our world.

Oxford Dictionaries chose the “face with tears of joy” emoji as its 2015 Word of the Year, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) added the world’s first emojis to its permanent collection. There’s even a World Emoji Day (July 17).

Emojis are one of the global trends identified in Shutterstock’s 2017 Creative Trends Infographic. First appearing in the 2015 infographic, the trend continues to grow as we realize its potential as a universal language that transcends borders.

It may seem like emojis are all fun and games, but they actually serve a practical purpose for consumers and marketers alike.

A New Language is Born

What was once considered an optional messaging garnish, has since become a legitimate form of communication. Emojis are not only simple to comprehend, but also allow for easy translation between cultures and languages. We rely on them to embody everything from our personalities to our lifestyles and beliefs. Facilitating communication is exactly what emojis were born to do and it’s getting hard to imagine life without these tiny digital images.

Brands Learn to Speak Emoji

The popularity of emojis has inspired brands to incorporate them into their marketing. While they’ve long been peppering tweets and Facebook posts with emojis, many brands are also taking these symbols to new heights. Taco Bell successfully petitioned for the creation of a taco emoji, and Chevrolet issued a press release composed almost entirely emoji characters. Last year, Disney developed an emoji-based branded video to promote Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

New Ways to Use Emojis

While their dominant use is still interspersed with text, we are beginning to see emojis being used in creative ways across mediums that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Domino’s now lets customers order pizza using emojis. YouTubers are using emojis in video titles to describe content. Brands are speaking in the emerging language of its audience, transcending language barriers and appealing to people of all demographics.

Custom Emojis and Mobile Messaging

Maximizing emoji impact requires effort. Last year, Chick-fil-A, launched the Chick-fil-A keyboard. Instead of defaulting to existing emojis, the restaurant chain created its own — complete with chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. The customized keyboard allows users to share branded Chick-fil-A emojis, enabling them to become brand advocates and keeping them top of mind. By pairing mobile messaging with emojis that already appeal to consumers, the content isn’t obtrusive, and consumers are more likely to find the brand interactions to be more meaningful.

What Lies Ahead

It seems as though emojis are fulfilling their potential and gaining more purpose with each passing day. While they of course don’t form a full linguistic system in their current state, they are considered to be the next stage in evolution of text based communication and could revolutionize how we communicate. They have the ability to transcend language boundaries better than the written language ever could. When you consider that countless consumers are willing to pay for emojis in the likeness of Kim Kardashian, odds are that in one form or another, these images are here to stay.

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