Are Emojis the Future of Brands?

The modern world’s take on hieroglyphics has come to the advertising world.


Everything that is old is new again. And we mean REAL old, as in cave wall drawing old. Because let’s face it, emojis are really our modern equivalent of the hieroglyphics that prehistoric man used to communicate. Not only have these little descriptive pictures taken over our smartphones, they are poised to influence the future of advertising and branded content.

No flash in the pan

It is estimated that people around the world send about 6 billion emojis every single day. The population of the planet was estimated to hit 7.6 billion at the end of 2017. So that is almost 79% of every man, woman and child in existence today sending one emoji, per day.

We have the Japanese to thank for emojis. They got their start at the turn of the 21st century when they originated on Japanese mobile phones. During the 2010s the little pictographs really took off, as several mobile phone operating systems began to include them. Then in 2015, they were named the word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries.

Beyond basic emojis

The emojis that most of us are familiar with are designed in Unicode. It’s a computing industry standard, and new ones are added every year. The latest batch to be released in 2018 numbers about 150 and includes gems like a cold face, multiple bald people and a llama, salt shaker and broom.

What isn’t available are branded emojis, so startups have stepped in to create these for companies. Some big corporations, ala Pepsi, have created their own branded emojis to use in advertising and social media.

Still not convinced this is the next big thing? Well, just two years ago, Twitter began to allow companies and brands to buy space for branded emojis—to the tune of $1 million. People then could use the emojis when they referenced a specific hashtag. Ad campaigns that included these branded emojis got a 10 percent bump in attention, Twitter found. They also noted that 80 percent of users liked the process of finding and using new emojis.

The benefit of branded emojis

People like emojis, but how can branded ones help promote your business? The key is measuring the impact of these branded emojis, whether that is through viewability, shares, click throughs or if an action is taken. Brands are benefitting from emojis designed specifically for them with increased impressions and awareness. There’s also the potential for direct integration with messaging aps, so that the branded emojis provide data to the companies using them about the age and location of consumers who view or click on the emojis.

Right now, emojis, stickers and GIFS often appear different on different messaging aps. This lack of a universal look and standard is the one challenge keeping branded emojis from really exploding, but if that is resolved there might be a lot more pictures in our future.