Hieroglyphics with Attitude


Facebook’s redesigned Like Button, giving users the option to select from five “Reactions”- Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry, in addition to the ubiquitous “Thumbs Up” – was the latest in a long line of attempts to add an emotional element to cyber communications.


From the beginning, developers have devised all sorts of ways to replace, and/or support, text with symbols. Screens can be hard to read and typing on little keyboards requires nimble fingers. In addition, text only communication can be perceived as cold and emotionless — I myself was once been chastised for my “terse emails” when in reality I just didn’t like typing.

The first attempt resulted in Emoticons — symbols made up of typewriter characters like this “ : ) “ — which later came to fruition with Emojis, those little icons that are popping up everywhere.

They initially appeared in Japan with the 1999 launch of “i-mode”, the world’s first mobile internet system. Designer Shigetaka Kurita was looking for a way to facilitate text communication on the first smart phones which had low rez screens, minimal character counts and no typewriter keyboard.

As often happens, something that started as a utilitarian response to a real need quickly turned into a THING. Emojis have become a language all their own, adding to texting that hallmark of all successful cyber endeavors— fun!

So why are they so popular?

Emoji’s make the writer appear to be more friendly, and more “with it”. Emoji’s can soften the blow of bad news (to a point) and some psychologist have found that people react to “smiley faces” in much the same way they react to a real face smiling. They generally just make things feel a bit more friendlier.

Emojis In Marketing

A recent study has shown 92% of the online population uses emojis in some way, so it is not surprising to find them increasingly turning up in marketing campaigns. Though they are generally not for industries such as Finance, Medicine, and Law—at least not yet—when used appropriately, they can be very effective:


Pizza Hut 

built a delivery services around a emoji of a single slice of pizza. Customers too hungry to type can order a pizza in 5 seconds by simply texting it to the proper pizza authorities.



Bud Light

created a special 4th of July version of the American flag using only emojis. Not surprisingly, beer icons figured prominently.


World Wildlife Federation

designed a set of  “emojis with a cause” by developing a unique series of of them depicting endangered animals.


Burger King

promoted a creature of its own by created an emoji to promote the introduction of
“Chicken Fries”.



aired a series of commercials that featured Duke’s Basketball Coach K using a student interpreter as he receives and sends emoji only texts from one of his star players containing only emojis.



This past summer, Pepsi executed a big, fun packaging idea—with a “PepsiMoji” campaign featuring emojis on bottles and cans.
The “Say It with Pepsi” campaign featured the custom emojis on all Pepsi packaging



And You Just Knew This was Coming…

Sony Pictures announced in late 2015 that they were planning a animated motion picture starring, say it with me…EMOJIS

Comments are closed.