The Dos & Don’ts Of Emojis (🌍 — 😃 — 📅!)

Today, Sean Hayes gracefully showered us all with emoji dust, Apple granted all of our wishes by unleashing 70 new emojis, and BurgerKing simply tweeted out a burger … Why? Because it’s officially the unofficial second-annual World Emoji Day!

Type ‘emoji’ into Google and this is what you’ll get:

A compound of the Japanese words “e” (“picture”) and “moji” (“character”), it’s arguably one of the cutest words we use on the daily. Otherwise known as the modern day Internet shorthand, these little icons are replacing words with images to convey humor, sarcasm, metaphors, and a whole slew of emotions on our phones, tablets, emails, and social media. In 2013, The Oxford Dictionary added the word emoji, and in 2015, the word of the year was the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji. Dictionary.com even has an entire section dedicated to emoji definitions. While they are not necessarily counting them as words, the organization recognized the proliferation and impact that emojis have on our everyday language and communication techniques. You can read up on the history of emojis here. While it’s fascinating to say the least, our focus of this blog is when and how to use emojis in your marketing strategy.

However cute as they may be, many brands are confused about the real meaning of many icons, often misusing them, resulting in embarrassing accidents. These hard-learned lessons also remind us that just because younger generations use emojis doesn’t mean they communicate exclusively with them. Over-using emojis turns off consumers. In a recent study, 58% of millennials said that emoji use by brands comes off as trying to hard or extremely fake. In short, when it comes to brands using emojis, less is more.

To celebrate this adorable little word on the second annual World Emoji Day, we’ve put together a little guide for using emojis most effectively in your marketing strategy.

Show Off Your Brand’s Personality 😊

Emojis are everywhere. In our phones, on our beds, in the air… it’s hard to not see an emoji at least once a day, if not more, especially if you are on an electronic device. If you decide to throw in a few emojis to convey a feeling or emotion, make sure to stick to the emojis that best represent your brand.

Take Domino’s ordering campaign. Followers set up accounts detailing their Twitter handle, location and payment details — as well as their favorite order — and simply tweet the pizza emoji to Domino’s. Within seconds, customers receive their confirmation, and their pizza is delivered within 30 minutes or less. By combining the brand’s image of convenience and the pizza emoji, they have whittled down their customer exchange to about five seconds. It’s the epitome of expediency with personal flair.

The Dead Pool marketing team also took emoji use to the extreme, but to the extent that it matched the personality of the marvel character perfectly. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand the dead-pan, dry and raunchy humor used throughout the film. Minimalism doesn’t even cover the lack of words used to sum up Dead Pool’s personality here:

When to Use (But Definitely Not Overuse) 👍🏼

When you want to low-key not-use-words and instead utilize the expressive, metaphorical powers of emoji, do it in moderation. We liked these few examples that mixed in emojis at the right place, and at the right time.

McDonald’s mirrored their “quick-and-easy” fast-food service in a campaign that used only emojis to show you that, even if you drop your phone in the toilet, there is always McDonald’s to brighten your day:

TSA is known for livening up dull procedures and protocols of airport travel with an Instagram account that’s filled with witty banter and sarcastic humor. Thanks to this well-known comedic personality that they’ve established over the years, simple emojis that are universally understood work perfectly to convey what definitely not to bring on board your next flight:

Taco Bell enlisted their fans for help by campaigning for a taco emoji. They brilliantly made up their own emoji answering that ever-existing crave of meaty, melty, crunchy goodness in a pictograph for their customers:

And The Daily Carnage expressed their sincere apology in the mistake they made in a previous email sent out to their consumers with the bawling-tears emoji. It matches their sarcastic personality while also saying “we made a mistake and we realize it:”

What to Avoid 🙅🏽

Be careful with certain emojis. The bawling-crying (😭) and tears of joy (😂) images have evolved in emoji world to convey a comical overreaction. Use ones like these in satirical posts or updates, but not in everything that you find funny. If there is something extremely exciting to celebrate, go ahead and throw in a smiley face or confetti emoji. But if you are adding these into every post, email, and announcement, your brand may come off as insincere or unauthentic. Take these few examples, for starters:

The U.S. department of defense tweeted out a strange video with a few emojis sounding off a bunch of animal noises. While they may be cute, these little icons don’t exactly convey the feeling of homeland security to United States citizens.

Chevy thoroughly confused their readers with their famous press-release that was made up of entirely emojis. This is a great example of emoji usage that completely backfires.

And the partnership for drug-free kids took emoji use to an almost condescending level when they tried to “speak the language of the youth” in one of their campaigns. Are you as confused as we are?


What we’ve learned is either emojis are best used to communicate an emotion or feeling, rather than replacing words, or they are used to promote interest in another topic by association, like GE’s use of emojis in their very own emoji-table of the elements. In the case of Domino’s, feel free to use an emoji when it literally is your product. But don’t force it just for the sake of using emojis and being “on-trend.”

The last thing you want to do is embarrass your brand by using a distasteful or downright offensive emoji. That is why emojipedia exists, so use it extensively; make it your new emoji-bible. And if you don’t take it from us, take it from Bill Nye.