How to make emojis a part of your brand voice strategy (and why you should).
Love them or hate them—most people love them—emojis are here to stay. No longer just a teenage toolbox, they are an integral part of global interpersonal communication. They quicken and soften our dystopian digital lives, adding cute, warm moments to all the typing and sending. According to C. Black Philosophy, in general, modern customers want brands to speak to them the way their friends do. And that means hearts, sparkles and monkeys are the concern of copywriters and content creators everywhere. But don’t throw them in your posts just to do it. Like any other aspect of brand content, they should be incorporated thoughtfully with engagement and business goals in mind. Here are several tips for making emojis part of your brand voice strategy.
DECIDE IF IT’S APPROPRIATE
Hint: The answer is yes in almost every case. Mainly because people like emojis. They use them every day in their interactions online and via text. So emojis can help you connect with you customer more intimately, unless you’re a super luxury brand that is really trying to keep it sophisticated and aspirational. In that case, nixing emojis could be a good way to elevate and maintain a differential between brand and customer. But don’t not use them just because you don’t know how. Either eliminate them deliberately, as a strategy, or integrate them into your brand vocabulary in a consistent, systematic way.
PICK YOUR PLAYERS
Think about your visual identity. You don’t use the whole rainbow of colors in association with your brand. You have your sanctioned palette and that’s what you use. It’s the same with emojis. There are over 2,800 of them, so they can’t all be fair game. Choosing a small set of symbols that reps your philosophy is an easy way to brand-build. Our favorite example is Glossier’s signature sign-off—a wave and a smile. It’s cute and friendly and speaks to the easy-breezy attitude beloved by their fan cult. Fashion Nova loves to put peaches in their email subject lines, which is a fun way to alert the receiver to offers of, ahem, ass-oriented clothing. When your brand is all about loving your curves, this is the move. (🍑= ass)
DO YOUR RESEARCH
You know how it’s super embarrassing when brands use street slang in a corny, awkward way, or fail to recognize how culture has changed the meaning of certain everyday words? Well, that’s the sort of thing you really have to be careful about when you incorporate emojis into your messaging. Don’t just assume you know. Google around and be sure there is no non-literal interpretation or alternative meaning that could be associated with the emoji you’re using. One obvious example is the eggplant emoji. Don’t use this if you’re trying to advocate for fresh vegetables. To many, it means something else entirely. 🍆🚫
ALWAYS BE TESTING
As with any strategy, you can modify your emoji game as you go. The Internet is a giant test tube, so see what your audience responds to and adjust accordingly. How does your email open rate change if you do or don’t put emojis in the subject? Do your social followers seem to get the message when your customer service team softens a response with one of your brand-sanctioned emojis? Let the data decide.
DON’T REPLACE WORDS
It was so ridiculous when Chevy wrote an entire press release in emoji. It also showed us how limiting the language is on its own. Emojis are good for expressing vibes and feels quickly, but they can be pretty cryptic with no context, and they can’t excuse you from talking to your customers. You can use them to respond to social comments quickly, maybe, as an acknowledgement, but in general, you need to combine them with real words to get your point across. Also, it’s bad for SEO. Nobody Googles in emoji.
USE EMOJI HASHTAGS
Emojis aren’t great for SEO, but they are good for social searches. You can search for them just like you do words and find content grouped under any combination of them. You can also use your branded emojis to create a hashtag that groups content together under certain conversations and themes. Plus, it’s really cute.