Emoji Mania: Playing with Millennials’ Second Language
From clothing to marketing, emojis, Millennials and teens’ second language, are everywhere. These modern hieroglyphics are continuing to dominate communication, and we’re looking at three services capitalizing on their success- and that brands should know about.
Thanks to the omnipresent use of emojis by Millennials and teens, these days a texting conversation could easily be confused for hieroglyphics. Emojis might seem silly to some, but the reasons that they caught on might be deeper than you’d think. They express things that mere words can’t, and take on nuanced meanings the user gives them. One other unexpected reason? They’re inherently positive, which makes them majorly attractive to young consumers who are seemingly constantly encountering negatively online. New York Magazine posits that emojis’ happy, fun nature is at the core of their success, particularly with younger consumers:
“But emoji are not, it turns out, well designed to convey meanness…the emoji that exist—while very useful for conveying excitement, happiness, bemusement, befuddlement, and even love—are not very good at conveying anger, derision, or hate. If we can take as a given that Millennials, as a generation, were raised in a digital environment…They might be especially receptive to, and even excited about, a tool that counteracts the harshness of life in the online world. They might be taken with emoji.”
This positive communication form is ruling in mobile and beyond. The most popular word of 2014 was not Ebola, or some other newsworthy term, it was the heart emoji, which was the most widely used character in blogs, social media, and news outlets for 12 months. Emoji use has also spread beyond mobile, and been played with in music videos, fashion, and, sometimes unsuccessfully, marketing. Like any language, emoji are also evolving. In 2015, in response to user complaints, five more shades of skin will be added by the Unicode Consortium (they’re the people in charge of all things emoji) to reflect “the variety of people who use smartphones.” The Unicode Consortium are deciding on a new version of the visual language, and 37 other new emoji are being considered, including a taco, which many are passionately fighting for.
There are a slew of startups capitalizing on emojis popularity. There are now chat apps and networks like Emoj.li and Emojicate that will only allow communication via emoji, no text allowed. Now Emoji.ink is a site that lets users “draw with emoji.” Here are three more projects that put emoji in the spotlight, and could be ones to know for brands:
Bitstrips, the personalized cartoon app that allows you to create your own avatar image, took the web by storm last year. (Remember when Facebook feeds were full of them?) However, the app lost its novelty and its presence shrunk somewhat. So Bitstrips has now launched Bitmoji, another app that lets you turn your personalized avatar into a personalized emoji. One’s Bitstrip avatar is created and then inserted into groups of hundreds of existing emojis in the app, so users can make their own emoji image cry, scream, dance, eat, and more. The Bitmoji looks more like a sticker than an emoji, but the new app includes a custom keyboard so you can easily drop your stickers into messages on other platforms and chats.
Emoji, which has become a second language to Millennials, is one that brands want to infiltrate. Thanks to Inmoji, the branded emoji developer that made its debut at CES 2015 that could now be a reality. Inmoji turns logos into “’powered’ clickable icons” can be sent and used as emojis within messaging apps. Users can then simply tap an Inmoji to access branded content. Big things are predicted for Inmoji, and it was named a top 5 startups to watch at CES 2015. Inmoji wants brands to use their service “to better target audiences on mobile, increase their reach, deepen brand loyalty and capture critical insights into consumer behavior and trends. However, the reception of brand emojis by Millennials is uncertain-any emoji will have to look natural and be something they would use regularly in order to be a success. As for brands, some might not want their logos to be emojis. Taco Bell, for example, is fighting the good fight to make that taco emoji happen.
Part of the fun and challenge of emoji is finding the one image that perfectly captures what you mean, even better than words could. (Cue nail painting emoji for when you get the perfect one.) Copywriters Scott Wolf, Jordan Miller and Johhny Michael, have hit the nail on the head with their recent fun side project, admojis. Admojis are emojis accompanied by captions that create inside jokes intended for the advertising industry, and they seem to be resonating deeply within the community. Admoji is just one specialized area in which creatives have tailored emojis to their group’s uniqueness: there are also “Emojew” and “LesbianEmojis.”