What the Emoji Boom Means For Your Marketing

Written by Laura Roeder

On June 14, 2016

Emoji got you like ??

That’s ok – it would have been hard for anyone to predict just how popular these modern emoticons would get, especially in marketing!

In fact, the use of emoji by brands via email and mobile has gone up 777% since the beginning of 2015.

(If there were a “bandwagon” emoji, this is where we’d put it.)

So, there are a lot of these things out there, and brands love using ‘em.

Raises a big question:

Do emoji really belong in your marketing?

Should your brand be among the enormous, growing percentage of those embracing the likes of ? in their marketing? Should you be looking for creative ways to use ? or ? in a sentence?

Sure, there are ways to market with emoji

Emoji are popular with consumers – like, really popular.

As of September 2015, 92% of online consumers use ‘em. In June 2016, Apple announced that emoji are going to display a whopping three times larger, and that AI will be able to predict times when you could use emoji instead of words.

(Turns out The Matrix may have overestimated just how scary the future of artificial intelligence would be.)


People love emoji so much that the people who make them keep on cranking out more, too! More than 70 new ones are being added to iOS and Android keyboards in 2016, not to mention the 1000+ that Facebook added to its own messenger app in June.

(Plus, new ones are always in the works. Google, for example, has proposed new additions to the emoji lexicon that would give women more options for representing their careers.)

Proposed Emoji

A few of the new emoji proposed in 2016. Source: http://unicode.org/L2/L2016/16160-emoji-professions.pdf

So yeah, people love emoji – and that means brands have jumped on board.

Sometimes, just slipping an emoji or two into a message give it a little pop of personality, and keep it casual.

Heck, DiGiorno actually uses emoji so much that it tweets about how much it uses emoji:

So yes – there are creative ways you can use emoji in your marketing.

And yet…

Emoji aren’t always right for everyone

Yeah, consumers love using ‘em. And some brands do, too!

But does that mean it’s a bandwagon you should be jumping on?

Not necessarily.

(Remember – just because you can do something doesn’t mean you always should!)

Ian Malcolm Quote

Not every subject is a good candidate for an emoji-laden conversation – and that means not every brand is, either.

Just look at what happens when politicians try to get in the emoji game as a way of connecting with their online audiences! (Hint: it usually backfires.)

The informality of emoji makes them a strong fit for brands that don’t have to take themselves too seriously, but also means they’re generally too glib for sensitive issues and heavy topics.

What works for one brand doesn’t necessarily work for another, and this is the perfect example. Consumers in general are receptive to emoji-speak, but if it isn’t appropriate for your specific brand, they’ll notice.

If you’re not sure whether this sort of thing is too casual for your business, take a hard look at your branding and identity. What’s your tone? Who’s in your audience? What sort of image do you want?

The question isn’t whether this can be done, or even if it can be done well. It can! The question is whether or not you should – and only you can answer that.

So think of yourself first

Emoji are just like any other big trend – they might be everywhere you look, but whether or not they belong in your marketing is less about the trend and more about you.

By thinking about emoji in the context of your brand – instead of just the context of popular culture – you’ll have a much easier time deciding whether they’re right for your business!

How do you feel about emoji in marketing? Casual and cute? A new harbinger of the collapse of language as we know it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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