The word Emoji comes from the Japanese “e” (picture) and “moji” (character). The world’s first Emoji was created in 1999 by Shigetaka Kurita (1), who took his inspiration from weather symbols. His vision of capturing emotion through digital messaging with small emoticons has turned into a modern-day, global language. The increased use of Emojis through communication developers such as Apple, Android etc, have made the emoticons we see today part of an every-day conversation. The small digital image spans across different media stories, from the creation of “World Emoji Day” (held on the 17th July), the world’s first Emoji translator, the ‘crying with laughter’ emoticon being named Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015 and finally the increasing use of emojis appearing in court cases!
Communication is relying ever more on texting and social media due to the sheer speed we can communicate a message to an endless amount of people. But even then, that is not fast enough, the introduction of the Emoji has shortened the way in which we speak to each other through our devices. A simple question such as “What are you doing tonight?” can be answered with a variety of different Emojis, as if sending messages by text was not fast enough. Furthermore, many millennials believe that the ‘language’ acts as a supporter to language, as it allows people to understand the tone of the conversation, such as sarcasm, mood and level of interest within the conversation. In a very short period of time, the small emotive graphics have now become second nature in human interaction.
Why is the Emoji becoming a global language?
Well, the answer is actually very simple, it is one of the most universal languages. A smiley face in the UK is the same in Spain, France and Germany. Obviously, when it comes to different culture there will be some language barriers, but a universal language in which emotions, most items and other aspects of conversation are multi-lingual is a strong starting point for global communication.
We have established that the Emoji is used in day-to-day conversations, through texting and social media, but how can it be applied to business? The predominant way in which Emojis are used by businesses is through marketing campaigns. Domino’s Pizza took advantage of the Pizza Emoji for a Twitter campaign where people all around the world could tweet the company with the Emoji to order a pizza. A marketing campaign that is understood across the world, with the use of socially relevant trends highlights how the Emoji is not only dominating human conversation, but how it breaks down language barriers for brands as well.
Like any trend in the modern era, in order to remain a key part of the social culture, it needs to develop and grow. Since the launch of the Emoji we have seen its development over the years, from the increase in quality and quantity but perhaps more socially relevant, the diversity of the language. The introduction of same-sex and more racially diverse Emojis shows the progression of not only the app development but the coinciding movements with society. Furthermore, with the Ginger Emojiand other hairstyles being released in June 2018, the diversity of the Emoji continues to expand as the 2019 update is rumoured to include several emojis that add a much-needed element of diversity and inclusion, including men and women in wheelchairs and others with prosthetic arms/legs.
What originally started out as a small, pixelated icon, has now become a part of modern culture and has moved forward alongside the society in which we live in today. It has become a form of language that is understood by the majority.
Who knows what the future for the Emoji will be? Will it become more integrated into daily activities away from our devices? When we go to an ATM machine, will all the options be in Emoji form? This may be a somewhat ridiculous idea, but in the modern society we live in, it is a possible outcome.