Recent research indicates that emoji is the fastest growing language in the UK. We track its emergence and look at how brands are incorporating emoji into the transaction process
As consumers in the digital age, we’re increasingly demanding for instant gratification online and ruthlessly unaccepting of brands that don’t provide it. Services that are convenient, uncomplicated and imaginative (and tailored to the user’s platform of choice) are essential to keeping your users happy. One way that brands are interpreting this need is by tapping into the flourishing popularity of the emoji.
The classic yellow Smiley was designed in 1963 by American commercial artist Harvey Ball for the State Mutual Life Assurance Company in Massachusetts. It took him 10 minutes and he was paid $45. By the 1970s it had passed into common use around the world and would go onto become synonymous with acid house and Alan Moore’s graphic novel Watchmen. In France, it was used to denote good news in newspaper France Soir. The invention of emoji in its digital form is credited to Japanese designer Shigetaka Kurita in the late 1990s.
Since then, emoji has grown into the fastest growing language in the UK, according to a study by Professor Vyv Evans of Bangor University. Unicode 8.0 now incorporates 1,281 characters. Why? Because it allows users to convey feelings in a way that’s generally perceived to be easier than text. For brands, this already-established form of real-time communication offers an ideal opportunity to engage creatively with users in a way that’s visual and highly convenient.
In recent months, various brands have been experimenting with using emoji to aid actual transactions. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched its #EndangeredEmoji campaign—a creative, easy-to-use and affordable way for people to donate money. To sign up, users simply had to Retweet WWF’s campaign Tweet and, from then on, each time they used one of 17 animal emojis (each represented an endangered species), a small amount of money would be billed to their account.
In the US, Domino’s introduced a similar initiative, where hungry Twitter users could Tweet the pizza emoji or use the hashtag #EasyOrder to order a pizza to their location. And start-up emoji-based food delivery service Fooji have created an entire business around responding to people’s food cravings on Twitter. After creating an account, users Tweet the food emoji they fancy and Fooji selects a restaurant and foodstuff to match.
“It’s the epitome of convenience,” says Chief Executive of Domino’s Patrick Doyle. “We’ve got this down to a five-second exchange.”
Essentially, users are able to get what they want with very little effort, and will value the brands that make this possible.
Written by Estelle Hakner.
This article also appears in Issue 25 of Figaro Digital magazine.