Navigating 117 new emojis: best practices for marketers

January 31st, 2020 | Rachel Arndt

Who doesn’t love a well-placed , the zing of , or the suggestion of ? Marketers certainly do: They stud their social posts and email subject lines with the tiny symbols, simultaneously looking like they’re trying too hard and that they’re part of pop culture.

Now, brands have 117 more emoji to choose from (more than 3,200 overall). That choice can be overwhelming for any texter, not to mention a brand relying on a well-placed confetti icon to get the message across. 

Transgender flag
Person (gender unspecified) feeding baby

Here are some best practices for marketers when using emoji:

  • Our research shows that an emoji in a subject lines doesn’t necessarily spell higher read rates. This could be because consumers are so used to seeing emoji that the symbols don’t stand out. Or it could be because consumers aren’t keen on the slightly off way brands tend to use emoji: as replacements for words, rather than a way to emphasize or clarify sentiment, as consumers tend to. Brands should pay close attention to how consumers  are using emoji on social media and elsewhere so they can stick with lasting trends rather than passing fads.
  • Every time the Unicode Consortium announces more emoji, the trend of inclusivity grows stronger. This most recent set, for instance, includes the transgender flag and several nonbinary faces. Brands should take this as a cue to make their own imagery more inclusive.
  • It could be tempting for a brand to submit its own emoji. Ford did, with the pickup truck that’s in this latest group of new emoji. But the brand hasn’t capitalized on the release of the emoji; there are no recent mentions of it on Ford’s Twitter, for instance. If a brand is willing to be so bold as to try to promote its own brand in a group of purposely generic-seeming icons, then it should own its decision by using the symbol.
Rachel Arndt

Rachel Arndt

Rachel Arndt is a Marketing Intelligence director. Drawing on marketing intelligence data, she delivers custom insights by uncovering how brands are marketing—and what they should be doing to move their strategies forward.