Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Fat Focus: The Impact of Emojis

Defined as visual communication, graphic design embraces a huge spectrum of styles, formats and interpretations. With this in mind we thought we would investigate the origins of one of the newest forms of communication…emojis!

The humble smiley face has opened up a whole new culture of cute and crazy icons adorning text messages, emails and social media platforms around the world. But where did emojis come from and why are they so popular?

Where did they come from?

Although a recent craze, emojis were first launched in Japan in the late 90s as a way of enhancing messages. Filtering their way around the world through messaging platforms such as MSN Messenger. Over a decade later Apple launched an iOS update introducing the emoji keyboard and the icons really took off.

2012 saw a massive surge in popularity, catapulting them into everyday life. Now dubbed the fastest growing language of all time, emojis comprise of over 1,600 icons and the list keeps growing! Spanning eight topics, they are now available in the form of smileys and people, animals and nature, food and drink, activities, travel and places, objects, symbols and flags. The most popular emoji being ‘tears of joy’ with over 1.5 billion uses on Twitter alone.

The word ‘emoji’ even made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013, and if that isn’t crazy enough, there will be an emoji movie released this year starring none other that Patrick Stewart and James Cordan!

So why are they so popular?

One theory is that they are personal. Emojis add emotion to an otherwise impersonal form of communication. It can often be difficult to judge the tone of a text message or a post on social media, but emojis seem to bridge the gap. Adding fun, creative elements to messages that help to express feelings better than written sentiments. They do say a picture is worth 1,000 words.

Emojis provide a human side to digital communication. Studies show that once we learn the meaning behind the symbol we start to relate to the emotion much like we do when we recognise it in a face.

Emojis can also help establish a personal or emotional connection that can be useful when promoting brand awareness. Used in advertising campaigns and on social media, big brands such as Mcdonalds, Dominos, Ikea and WWF have all implemented emojis, with Ikea and WWF even creating their own set. Audience connection is key when using social media, and the human element that emojis provide could be the difference between a like, a share or a scroll past. Many might think that emojis are limited to the younger generations but you would be wrong. Emojis are used by a wide demographic with studies showing a positive response to brands using emojis in their marketing with big increases in click through rates.

Emojis may be a passing craze that will eventually die out but for now they seem as popular as ever and here to stay.