by Hannah Smith
Are all of the above familiar? Of course they are. From restaurants to clothing, to car ads and furniture stores; the use of the emoji is rising to every corner of the world and every angle of our lives. This is obvious right, but what does this mean for the future of communication?
Isn’t it crazy how people are expressing their feelings and ideas through small yellow faces more than the adjectives and nouns we spent upwards of 10 years learning at school? I fully embrace the advancements in technology that are improving and changing our lives, but it is evident that the existence of emoji’s is replacing the art of conversation with words.
The saying that pictures speak louder than words couldn’t be truer at present. Pictures have the power to convey a message in an instant which words cannot and leave a lasting impression when words are easy to forget. This is why brands are adopting the use of emoji’s to make their brand memorable to customers. McDonalds, Chevrolet, WWF and Ikea are just some of the big brands using emoji’s in their marketing campaigns. Brands are keen to utilise emoji’s to stay current with the trends and demonstrate that their brand can relate to modern audiences. Emoji use is something we all have in common so it allows brands to speak the language of its audience to keep them in conversation (particularly in McDonald’s case), which ultimately increases brand engagement.
But how do these emoji’s translate on a face-to-face level? Will we soon forget how to use words completely and walk around performing the relevant emoji like a continuous game of charades? Emoji use epitomises how human interaction is now ruled by technology. It is another excuse for citizens of today to bury our heads in our phones or computers instead of using verbal or written methods. Let’s not forget the influence that words do have; would Patrick Swayze’s passionate protest in Dirty Dancing have been quite as touching if he’d just text Jennifer Grey’s father: ““?
Emoji’s can be considered the “universal language” as many people have an understanding of these characters in common so despite language barriers, emoji’s are connecting people around the world. But not everyone. For an older generation, it can appear like trying to crack the Morse code, and can demonstrate to a younger audience a lack of importance in broadening one’s vocabulary.
Is the growing use down to pure laziness? We are losing the beauty of words because it’s simply easier to send someone an emoji than to type out a whole sentence. Often an intended message becomes limited by emoji’s; there’s only one message a heart sends, but are a thousand ways to express affection for someone or something through words. Language illustrated through emoji’s would surely become boring and inert?
As a design agency, our work is as much to do with technology as it is with design. We adapt to and are inspired by technological advancements, each bringing its own challenges and benefits. But the soared use of emoji’s cannot be ignored or avoided, especially when we see big-time brands jumping on the band-wagon. Sky news recently used emoji’s to interact with their audience, encouraging viewers to engage via social media using emoji’s. And we are also seeing many clients include emoji’s into their content creation to connect with their target audience on a more personal level. The results prove that emoji’s do increase customer engagement, because let’s face it – they’re fun! However, words are still just as dominant in our workplace from communication with clients to copy writing, and will stand the test of time.
But can we imagine life without emoji’s now? Who knows if one day words will be a distant memory and life will be communicated through symbols like the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. But for now, I hope we continue to find pleasure in finding and using old and new words and pray that next week I do not find emoji characters placed throughout the Oxford English dictionary.