PuRpose-filled emojis

Adria Marlowe, MA ’17

The use of emojis is exploding, but to what end? Do these adorable little illustrations serve any purpose at all? According to May 2017 Hofstra graduate Adria Marlowe, they sure do.

PR Nation is featuring graduate students’ capstone projects, a requirement to earn a master’s degrees in public relations at Hofstra. Adria’s paper, “Symbolic Images and Lasting Impressions: Can emojis influence millennials’ brand perception and affinity?” analyzed “the evolution of emojis into a mainstream form of communication” and looked for “examples of brands that have employed emojis in their communication strategies.”

The use of emojis is relatively new. Since 2010, “there are now 1,851 Unicode emoji,” according to Adria, “and every year the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit corporation devoted to developing, maintaining, and promoting software internationalization standards and data, reviews proposals for and decides which new emojis will be released.”

I found Adria’s comparison of emojis to ancient symbols fascinating. “Some linguists consider emoji symbols to be an evolution of early pictographic language…by making the correlation between emojis and 40,000-year-old cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphics that told stories using pictures and other images.”

“Brands have taken notice of emojis’ popularity and are finding that incorporating them into communication strategies can produce positive outcomes,” Adria wrote. “A study by Appboy found that emoji-enabled ads generated click-through rates that were 20 times higher than the industry standard.”

Adria’s own survey found that a strong number of respondents agreed that brand messages which include emojis seem more personal, stand out, convey more emotion, are more positive, humanize the brand, and make interacting with the brand more enjoyable/fun. “With a staggering amount of content and information coming across mobile screens and a decreasing consumer attention span, communications professionals must find ways to grab their audiences’ attention and connect with individuals in a matter of seconds…(Emojis) are effective tools for brands seeking to communicate with millennials via mobile platforms.”

“Public relations practitioners should seek to understand the platforms and tools their audiences are using, and look ahead towards trends and new ideas. Emojis are a phenomenon worth studying,” Adria concluded. Your thoughts?

One thought on “PuRpose-filled emojis

  1. Alexys Lucas

    I agree that emoji’s are an important factor of a brands message, especially on social media platforms. I have seen many brands make posts promoting a product and asking the audience to simply comment their favorite emoji below. This encourages the audience to interact with the post and draws more attention to the post. While I believe some uses of emojis can seem tacky and unattractive, I think that when brands use them it shows that they know who they are targeting and they understand how to be mobile friendly, which is extremely important today.


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