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How emojis could change your communications forever

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Is this the future of communication?
Is this the future of communication?

Whether you love them, hate them or just don’t get them, emojis seem to be everywhere.

From the latest advertising campaign by McDonlads, to Google’s decision to allow them in certain Adwords or the fact that Instagram’s most recent update has made hash-tagged emojis searchable; there’s no escaping these tiny graphic icons.

In fact some people think that these might be the first truly global language.

Like many new technologies the early adopters of emojis were Millennials, quickly followed by their social-media-savvy siblings, Generation Z.

And in the words of American marketer and bestselling author Seth Godin, these early adopters are ‘sneezing’ and spreading the emoji virus to the masses!

But it’s not just emojis that are changing how we communicate

If you want another example of how communication is changing and focusing more on visualization, take a look at Snapchat.

In a recent interview Evan Spiegel, one of the social networks founders, was asked a simple question: “What is Snapchat?”

Here’s his blindly obvious but insightful answer:

“Snapchat really has to do with the way photographs have changed. Historically photos have always been used to save really important memories: major life moments, but today… pictures are being used for talking.

So when you see your children taking a zillion photos of things that you would never take a picture of, it’s cos they’re using photographs to talk… And that’s why people are taking and sending so many pictures on Snapchat every day.”

And you can’t argue with Snapchat’s success, having over 100 million daily users of its app. Quite how the app will ever make any money – not least a profit – once the current trend for investing marketing funds in almost anything social with no real payback has abated is a debate for another day.

Here are three emoji advertising examples

1. Oreo’s “Play Together With Your Kids” campaign: The cookie brand ran a campaign in China that urged parents and children to create custom emojis by putting their faces onto dancing figures.

The result was eminently sharable and the campaign hoped to capitalize on the idea of parents bonding with their children to support Oreo’s brand goals. The firm also put codes on cookie packets that would unlock more content and, obviously, boost sales. This video has more detail.

2. General Electric’s #emojiscience: GE created an “Emoji Table of Experiments”, that uses emoji as icons in a periodic table-type layout, and that introduces people to DIY science projects.

The campaign aims to show the fun side of science – alongside some of the interesting work that GE is doing – and also insists that “There’s science in everything—even emojis,” which ties nicely with the firm’s “Imagination at Work” tagline.

3.Bud Light’s 4th of July tweet: Of course, it’s easier for certain brands to incorporate emoji than others. Bud Light made use of this with an emoji tweet — the right form for a millennial audience, timed for a holiday that matches with the Budweiser brand — for the US 4th of July celebrations.

So what does this mean for your communications?

I guess this is all about relevancy. For instance, if you manage marketing communications for consumer brands aimed at Millennials, emojis might be a perfect fit for you.

Some brands might feel that there is no relevance with their positioning or target market.

To be honest, I’m yet to use emojis in any work-related communications. Maybe it’s because I manage business-to-business legal marketing which doesn’t feel naturally relevant. Or maybe it’s because I’m not brave enough, and should embrace the ‘safe is risky’ mantra a bit more.

But I would guess the first word of warning is: don’t try too hard. There’s nothing more embarrassing than someone trying hard to act a lot younger and cooler than they actually are; or in other words, desperately trying to be ‘down with the kids’.

I’d love to hear your thoughts? Short-term craze or long term communication strategy? Are words dying out or will they work in tandem with emojis and photos?


If you’ve got a minute, let me tell you a story…

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Image a Burt's Bees Tin
Recognise this beard? It’s the famous Burt Shavitz

As a savvy marketer I’m sure you already know that brands have been using the art of storytelling for years.

Marketing teams have become experts at using stories – and the characters within them – to build their brands and create emotional connections with their audiences.

Some famous faces

Some of the most successful character stories are in the food sector, where Ben & Jerry’s, Papa John’s Pizza and good old Colonel Sanders rely heavily on their stories to wrestle our hard earned money from us.

And the stories don’t even have to be true. For instance, do you remember Levi Roots? He’s the now millionaire food entrepreneur who secured £50k on the TV show Dragons Den. The money he secured was to build his ‘secret’ Reggae Reggae BBQ Sauce brand which, according to Roots, had been handed down to him from his Jamaican Grandmother. To add to the authenticity of his story, Roots also explained how he had been selling it at London’s Notting Hill Carnival for 15 years.

But later during a legal battle with his ex-business partner, Roots admitted his brand story was simply “a marketing ploy”. Nonetheless his ‘ploy’ worked brilliantly. In its first week on national sale, Roots shifted over 50,000 bottles. Since then Reggae Reggae Sauce has had tie-ins with brands such as JD Wetherspoon, Birds Eye, Morrisons, Domino’s Pizza and KFC to name just a few.

Anyway, if you like stories about interesting people that sometimes develop interest brands, have a read of this. It’s about Burt Shavitz, co-founder of Burt’s Bees, who died on July 5th, aged 80.

It is the fascinating story about how one very humble guy, with help from his girlfriend, built a business valued at almost $1 billion. And who’s face and story are at the heart of the brand.


Would you dare put your logo here?

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As a marketing professional you’ll be looking to get your advertisement or branding in places that give you maximum exposure. Places that give your message a high ‘opportunity to see’.

And, it goes without saying, in front of the eyeballs that are relevant to whatever you are selling.

So, would you put your logo or advert on an emergency vehicle?

The reason I ask is the Nottinghamshire Police Force has just announced it is considering selling advertising space on its cars.

Aside the obvious – and crass – advertising for personal injury claims, which could also be extended to having personal injury adverts on the ceiling of ambulances, what opportunities do you think this offers?

And would you advertise on emergency vehicles?

PS: I’ve just of another stinking example. Ambulances could have L’Oréal’s ‘Because you’re worth it tag statement’.

Put this much thought into your customer service, and you won’t go far wrong

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In my experience customer service is the most ignored aspect of the marketing mix.

Businesses seem to spend so much time and money promoting their brands they forget to consider how it is actually delivered – and the experience the customer gets.

This mistake can kill a brand stone dead.

Have you ever bought anything and suffered the misery of having it delivered? If your experience has been anything like mine, you’ll know the service is usually lousy.

You have to waste the best part of a whole day waiting around for your items, as usually the best delivery estimate is somewhere between “9am – 6pm”

But not so at delivery service DPD – who’s service and use of technology I just had the pleasure of experiencing.

Here’s the story:

Late on Saturday night my wife bought some overpriced boots from UGG Australia via their website. We had actually spent the day visiting their stores in London but none had her size.

Anyway, after we paid online we were told the items would be with us within 5 working days.

Then Monday we got a text message from DPD, the distribution firm UGG use. It said the items would be with us on 22nd which was just 3 working days. Not a bad start.

The text message also gave these three helpful options:

1, I could text back the number 1, which meant deliver next door, as I’m out that day.
2, I could text back the number 2 for a Thursday delivery, or the number 3 for a Friday delivery.
3, Or visit their website (link provided) to rearrange

All helpful stuff.

But here’s where it got brilliant.

Because on the delivery day, I got another text message. It told me the delivery driver’s name was Lee and he would be with me between 11.53 and 12.53.

And it had a link to a real-time map that showed the locations of Lee and my house. It also showed how many more deliveries Lee had before getting to my house. At the time I looked, Lee was just delivering order 26. Mine was number 62.

It looked a bit like Google maps.

Wow – I could actually watch my delivery making its way to my house by Lee the delivery man.

And as promised, the overpriced boots arrived on time and on the correct day. And Lee was a friendly bloke too.

I take my hat off to DPD. The service it fantastic. Which also helps UGG too, as it reflects on their overall brand image.