Why emojis should be your language of choice

Emoji Marketing

As marketers we strive to speak the language of our customers, allowing our brands to be more approachable and in turn forging more intimate relationships with our target audience. However we are witnessing the rise of a whole new language, one which has grown through social media and smart phones and is now embedding itself into the marketing world, we give you the digital language of the emoji.

That’s right, what was once a colon and choice of bracket to depict a half hearted attempt of a happy or sad face has now come a seriously long way. The late 2000’s saw the introduction of the yellow animated smilies and now a few years later they have been joined by a whole host of new emotions and icons ranging from food to animals to transport. The phrase “it doesn’t say anything yet it says so much” rings true in this case with many users feeling they can express their feeling better through the use of emojis than they can using words making it one of the reasons for it’s recent rise in popularity.

If your target audience falls into 15-30 (give or take a few years) then you should pay attention because chances are they are heavy users of emojis. Many brands have already incorporated emojis into their marketing and ad campaigns and for the most part it’s worked to great effect. Brands such as MacDonald’s, Chevrolet and Budweiser have all reaped the rewards of creatively using emojis to get their message across. The fact that it’s still a relatively new concept to be used within marketing makes the content produced unique and incredibly shareable. Here is how some of these brands have embraced the emoji and the manner in which they have utilised it for marketing campaigns.


McDonald’s recently created a billboard ad which told a short story through the simple use of emojis. The message depicted the way in which McDonald’s can brighten even the most frustrating of days. The concept was smart and simple and the emojis used made it easy to understand.


A more creative use of emojis was seen by Chevrolet who went as far as putting together an entire press release out of emojis. This really showed the power and storytelling ability of the icons. While Chevrolets audience is one which varies greatly this campaign was clearly targeted at the younger core. However unlike McDonald’s short and sharp message, Chevrolet’s heavy use of emojis could have actually caused confusion in what the actual message was.

Bud Light

Bud light used emojis to great effect last year when they created an American flag out of emojis and tweeted it for 4th of July, it was retweeted 148,000 times and favourites 111,000 compared to usual tweets which barely hit 30 retweets or favourites. This is something that Budweiser have carried on into this year and they produced another campaign for July 4th to mark the USA’s Independence Day, making it animated on this occasion and experiencing just as much success with it.


Domino’s ran a clever twitter campaign which allowed followers to order pizza by tweeting the pizza emoji. While the campaign was the equivalent to someone simply tweeting a keyword, the sending of the icon gave a far more interactive feel. This is an approach which has also been used by other brands and a great way of generating exposure on Twitter.


Similar to the way in which Domino’s utilised emojis on Twitter, WWF raised money and awareness when they launched their #EndangeredSpecies campaign. They asked people to tweet the emoji for the animal they would like to donate 10p to. Not only did this make it easier for people to donate but it also raised awareness amongst their followers.


Swedish household goods retailer IKEA went for a different slant on the emoji craze and decided to create an app full of their very own emojis. While it’s been met with mixed reviews due to its lack of keyboards integration and the inability to be used with other messaging apps it still demonstrates a potentially different way of capitalising on the popularity of emojis.

Considerations for your campaign

What’s clear to see from the list above is that the key target audience for most of the brands falls within the 18-30 year old category. This is an age range which has taken to smart phones and with it they have developed the understanding of using emojis. It’s important to assess your target demographic and how they are likely to perceive an emoji based campaign. If they won’t understand it then you’re best served steering clear, the last thing you want is to create a campaign which will only cause confusion. Another thing to consider is choosing the right communication tool to use. While your campaign doesn’t have to be run through social media, it’s a great space to use due to the shareability of the content you create, however be sure to also identify the best platforms to use. Most social networks have incorporated the use of emojis so be sure to get your campaign across on the ones which you feel are the best vehicle to get your message shared around your key demographic.

To add to the above also look try to make your campaign as engaging as possible, especially if it’s run through social media as the potential of the message being shared will be greatly improved. Creating an engaging campaign not only improves your interaction with that specific customer but it also means that there is a greater level of awareness followed up through each individuals social media followers. Take for instance WWF’s campaign, they not only had people donate, but these donations were also visible on their twitter feed for others to see.

We’d love to hear any success you’ve had at incorporating emojis in your marketing messages, be sure to leave any below.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.
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