What can brands learn from emojis?

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Emojis have been successful because they help us to vent our true emotions.

When was the last time an ad made you laugh out loud? Or reach for the tissues? You might not remember the exact date, but you can probably remember who was responsible.

There’s a simple reason for that. When an ad evokes a reaction, it becomes memorable. The biggest and best ideas make us feel something. And it makes sense. If we feel good, we’re more likely to act on that feeling.

So how is this leveraged by the world’s most successful brands?

Let’s take Apple for example. They work hard so we can get our hands on something innovative. Doesn’t everyone want a useful gadget that will make their life easier? So, they tell a story. A story that welcomes you into a community. A community of bright colours. With lots of people from different backgrounds using their products to enrich their lives.

Coca-Cola is another fine storyteller. They know their product isn’t good for us, so they don’t talk about the sugar and calories. Instead they portray bliss, delight and contentment. One of Coca-Cola’s first major campaigns featured a polar bear. He cracked open a coke bottle and looked so happy and satisfied, that we couldn’t help but think, “I want a piece of that too”.

Cadbury’s uses the same strategy. Too much chocolate might contribute to us putting on weight, but do we care? No. We want to feel as good as that big friendly gorilla does; lost in the music playing on his drums.

Euphoria is deeply ingrained in all these examples. It works because the brand, the staff, the ads - all live and breathe it. So, in turn, what else can we do but believe them?

Thanks to social media, consumers are now free to express how certain types of content makes them feel. Emoticons were originally based on computer keyboard symbols used to create pictorial icons that displayed an emotion or sentiment. In 1999, the first emojis were inspired by Manga art and morphed emoticons into colourful characters free from numbers, letters and punctuation. And when used correctly, emojis can be incredibly powerful tools for a brand.

How is this for a fact? Over 60 Million emojis are sent on Facebook every single day. And with research reflecting that there are six basic emotions we all feel: happiness, anger, disgust, sadness, fear and surprise, is it any wonder that Facebook Reactions and advertisements that use emojis have been a success?

The reason for their success is they are based on a truth. People like to show other people how they feel about things. If a brand makes a consumer feel an intense emotional response, that consumer is more likely, consciously or subconsciously, to remember that feeling when at the point of purchase. Which makes them more likely to buy.

So, what’s the future of emojis? When Apple released the iPhone X last year, it also released the animoji feature. If you’ve never heard of an animoji, think of it like an animated version of the emoji – but using your face and reactions to create it. Sounds creepy? Well, perhaps in theory, but the result is a great example of how to use new technology to revolutionise an idea. By using the facial motion capture feature, The TrueDepth camera analyses more than 50 different muscle movements to mirror your expressions in 12 animoji characters. It will also record your voice so if you select the alien animoji you might sound a bit extra-terrestrial. Animoji transforms emojis from liner visuals to 3D moving characters that can move and talk like us. Think of it like a Snapchat filter, but instead of the filtered face, the animoji IS your face.

This year, the brand-spanking new IOS 12 has just released its memoji feature which expands on animoji. Rather than interacting as an animal or alien, you can now send a customised memoji that looks exactly like you. There are a multitude of options to make your avatar as unique as possible. Want freckles? Done. Want spiky blond hair? Done.

Will we see this kind of technology being used in advertising? Yes. Let’s go back to the point that people like to show others how they feel about things. Imagine being able to react to an advertisement using an memoji which looks just like you and reflects exactly how you feel. If we can totally be ourselves when consuming brand advertising, then surely our connection with the product will be stronger than ever?

Clare Hobbs is a copywriter at JJ Marketing

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