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Emoji: The Literary Renaissance

Language is evolving. Oxford Dictionaries just named ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ Emoji Tears of Joy as 2015’s word of the year to a crowd of dismayed logophiles (who are all apparently more Emoji Frustrated), and ushered in what is, without a doubt, the age of the emoji. Yes, the Millennials have officially managed to ruin language; add that to the list next to art and rock n’ roll. But before you lose all faith in humanity and lock yourself in your underground apocalypse bunker, allow me to enlighten you about the linguistic powerhouse that are emoji.

The Age of the Emoji

Unpronounceable but never misunderstood, the emoji is a language barrier wrecking tour-de-force descending from design heaven to deliver us from miscommunicated emotions (Emoji Happy), subtle sexual innuendo, and the hassle of typing out “Do you want to get tacos with me?” (Emoji TacoEmoji Question Mark). A searchable hashtag on both Tumblr and Instagram, emoji are the future communication style of choice for today’s Millennial consumer group. Data collected by Oxford Dictionaries shows that, though existing in the English language since 1997, the usage of the word emoji has more than tripled in 2015. A similar spike can be seen on Google Trends.

Google Trends Emoji use chart

Obviously a phenomenon too spectacular to pass up, the question now is how to use this cultural trend in brand marketing while remaining authentic and without it feeling forced. Emoji Curious Let’s check out a few brands that have been doing it right.

DOMINO’S: SHOW ME THE Emoji Pizza Slice

Not only has Domino’s absolutely conquered every single mode of communication, they’ve also marked their territory with the pizza emoji, cementing it as a staple in their ever growing pizza arsenal.

Dominos Pizza Tweet

From literally any communication device that can connect you to Domino’s, you can now use a single emoji to get a steaming hot dough disk smothered in sauce, cheese and toppings of your preference delivered straight to your door. What a time to be alive, and what a fantastic use of emoji. Dominos and their quick reaction helped them capitalize on an emoji that is now directly linked to their brand.


The Ad Council is another brand to completely take ownership of an emoji, except this time they specifically had it made for their use. I Am A Witness anti-bullying campaign hired ad agency Goodbye Silverstein & Partners to develop the emoji that drives this new campaign to end bullying. The symbol, an eye inside of a speech bubble, empowers children to speak up about bullying they witness through the communication channel they are most familiar with: emoji. This symbol of good comes from a long line of other Ad Council mascots including Smokey the bear and McGruff the Crime Dog, a testament to how kid culture is changing with technology.

Ad Council ad

PEPSI: WILL YOU Emoji Engagement RingEmoji Bride?

For World Emoji Day (because yes, there’s a day for everything) Pepsi showed it’s emoji love with a whole new 35 character Pepsimoji keyboard. Taking it to the next level, Pepsi used these new emoji to help a couple get engaged.

“Over time, emoji have become the universally understood language of emotion,” says PepsiCo President Brad Jakeman. “The unique thing we’re doing with emojis is taking them out of the digital world and grounding them in the physical world and allowing consumers to have the kind of conversations they’d have with emojis when they’re actually together.”

TWITTER: # Emoji Money Bag

After making specialized emoji for popular hashtags like #LoveWins and #PopeInNYC, Twitter has finally started to cash in on specialized ad-moji hashtags. A current popular emoji hashtag is Coke’s #Shareacoke which includes two Coke bottles. Past favorites have included One Direction emoji for the AMAs and Star Wars characters for the upcoming movie release. A personalized emoji adds a spark of awesome to a hashtag, and in their current rare state, are a unique ad investment.

Emoji Share A Coke Tweet

Your Brand + Emojis
When connecting with your target, or in this case millennials, ask yourself if there is an emoji your brand can own like Domino’s Emoji Pizza Slice before the competition claims it? Could you elevate your brand by making your own emoji communications like the Pepsimoji? Consider how your brand can champion it’s own unique message and purpose through the emoji trend to develop unique, meaningful dialogue with your target audience.

Ashley Sudney, Former Designer at Grafik
Ashley Sudney

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