Close this search box.

How an emoji can make or break your brand

This is an archived article - we have removed images and other assets but have left the text unchanged for your reference

A smiley, a LOL-face and even a poop – all are now part of our everyday visual lexicon better known as emojis. And they are becoming a great way for marketers to engage with customers, albeit one that can be easily misinterpreted.

The recent arrival of 70 new emojis on devices around the world heightened retailers’ curiosity as to whether the updated set of ideograms can serve as a stepping stone in connecting with their customer base.

This conundrum is answered in a new research from marketing automation suite Pure 360, which finds that 77% of UK customers use emojis in messages to family and friends. However, a far smaller 5% say that they would buy from a brand that adopts emojis in their digital marketing strategy.

Retailers must consider the use of ideograms when it comes to their marketing tactics and align the brands’ identity with what customer is expected to see. As different consumers’ interpretation and connotation of an emoji vary greatly, therefore marketing according to those variations is necessary. The secret is to study their meaning to your audience, then use it sparingly and conveniently.

Moreover, the study commissioned by YouGov goes on to say that millennial generation is particularly attended to the nuances of this visual communication. And when retailers might think that an emoji or two may attract the nation’s young adults-they couldn’t be more wrong.

In fact, 34% of 18-24-year-olds believe that emojis devalue a brand, in comparison 25% of consumers aged over 55 say this to be the case. The most ambivalent age cohort to engaging with brands using emojis in digital marketing are 25-34-year olds, with just under half (48%) of consumers in this age bracket are neither more or less likely to do so. Overall, just 7% think that brands look more ‘human’ by using emojis, whereas only 1% wish that they could replace written words completely.

Komal Helyer, Marketing Director at Pure360 argues that there is no simple definition of the best of worst emoji for the marketing strategies: “Brand and audience relevance is key to successful use. One way to achieve this is to pick emojis that reflect your brand aesthetic. In fact, some brands now develop their own emojis to safeguard brand identity, however, you don’t have to go that far. Start with emojis that have an established meaning, will complement your brand message, and are not too complex or likely confuse your audience. And remember, emojis also reflect emotions so go for positive connotations.”

She continues: “A smiley face is difficult to misinterpretation, but avoid laughing at or blowing kisses to your customer. Getting creative is fine if you get your timing right. Seasonal norms will let you get away with a heart or two on Valentines and few would object to a snowman at Christmas, but never forget the demographic of your audience. Above all, remember less is more. Never present your audience with a visually confusing eyesore. Emojis should always underline and enhance your message, not leave your customer reaching for the delete button.”

Recently, Return Path [IRDX VRTP] revealed that subject lines containing emojis saw a higher read rate than comparable text-only ones.

Picture credit: vectorfusionart (Fotolia)

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on