The Ultimate Guide To Emojis In Brand Messaging

Throughout the early 2000s, emojis were only available outside of Japan on certain apps. It took Apple releasing an update with the emoji keyboard to send the icons into the mainstream. Now, it seems like there’s an emoji for everything – a burger, a floral bouquet, a space invader… there’s even a zombie. In fact, some people (dads, we’re looking at you!) choose to communicate entirely in emojis, like modern-day hieroglyphics. 

Put simply, emojis convey what words can’t. Gone are the days of worrying if your message is too blunt or unfriendly; now, you can pop a fun smiley face on the end as opposed to an ominous full stop. But how does this translate to marketing? Let’s take a look…

How emojis boost brand messaging 

One of the biggest benefits of emojis is that they’re universal – the tiny pictures we see on our screens here in the UK are the same ones people ping to one another all over the world. Using the all-powerful emoji, your brand can communicate one message across multiple nationalities with minimal effort. 

What’s more, one of the biggest challenges faced by brands is attracting the attention of the younger generation. When used correctly, emojis demonstrate that your brand is up to speed with the latest communication trends – injecting some personality into your marketing strategy, and helping you connect with your customers.

You might be thinking that your brand isn’t young or ‘hip’ enough to be tapping into emoji trends, but the beauty of the culture is that your choice of emojis can help form your brand identity rather than the other way around. The trick is knowing when to use emojis, and how. 

Awkward! Emoji use gone wrong 

Recently, MYC Director Kelly was mortified when her TikTok feed revealed that one of her go-to happy emojis actually reeks of passive-aggression to most people. The emoji in question was the simple smiley 🙂 – which seems pretty harmless, right? Wrong

Kelly’s experience sparked an office debate, where we discussed the real meanings behind some of the most popular emojis, which emojis wind us up, and which we’d be happy to send or receive. Here’s what we learned:

Our emoji top tips 

Be clear in your emoji use 

Emojis can be ambiguous, and something that means one thing to you might mean something entirely different to someone else. Once you’ve established the purpose of your emoji choice, ask your team if the message is clear to them. If it’s for a large campaign, you could even consider running a focus group to get a more accurate read on your selection. 

Stay true to your industry

While emojis are becoming more popular even among more professional businesses, it’s still important to consider which emojis are appropriate for your audience, and which are best left to less serious brands. For example, the handshake emoji 🤝 could be used to demonstrate a successful deal, and the dartboard emoji 🎯 for targets that have been achieved. Emojis not designed for the corporate world include: 🍆🍑💦

Find your emoji uniform

If you can select between three and five emojis that you think particularly relate to your company, commit to them. This makes your brand messaging consistent, while reducing the risk of misusing emojis. Plus, it also makes your business more memorable since consumers will begin to associate certain emojis with your brand and your brand alone.

Don’t overuse them

Emojis are a great tool for humanising your brand and relating to your target audience, but if you resort to including them in your posts for the sake of it, it can have the opposite effect. If you’re commenting on a serious issue, for instance, it may not be appropriate.

Have fun with it! 

While we’ve emphasised the importance of choosing the right emojis, once you’ve got a read on your audience and their own emoji use, you can start getting creative! Want to convey excitement? Try the dancer emoji 💃! You can also boost engagement by getting people to reply to your posts with a thumbs up or thumbs down, or asking them to decode an emoji sentence in the replies. 

A picture paints a thousand words

If you’re ready to take your brand messaging to the next level, or you’d just like us to translate those X-rated emojis for you, chat with the MYC team today.

Words by Kelly

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