Beautiful Thinking.

Great New Product. Now What Are We Going To Emoji It?

In 2015 the Oxford English Dictionary named the ‘face with tears of joy’ emoji as the word of the year.

If that isn’t being let in to the linguistic club without a tie, I don’t know what is. But it was an acknowledgement by the Guild of Vocabulary that emojis had arrived.

Emoji is the fastest growing language on the planet. Emojis are sewn into our lexicon, the emotional punctuation of our communication.

What does that mean for brands?

Well, how’s this for starters? Isn’t it time brands stopped using that old fashioned naming nonsense and just use emoji’s to convey the personality of a brand? Let’s smiley face it, words are so woefully inadequate. Coca Cola doesn’t describe Coca Cola-ness. A joyful face, some licking lips, the stars and stripes and the sun and there you go. A bag of chips, a burger, an express train and a clown and you’re virtually under the golden arches.

Yes, you can play this game at home. We played it at work and then took it a stage further by actually mocking up what it would look like if you substituted emojis for the brand name.

See what you think.

Obviously it is not the same as launching a new brand as all the preconceptions and hardwired sensory triggers are woven into the look and feel of the packaging. But it does raise interesting questions. To a digital native and someone who could speak emoji from birth, this might well feel more intuitive.

Emojis might push more buttons than mere letters and emojis can tell a fuller story, a narrative of feelings which can touch at first sight. ‘It moves you exactly like it says on the tin’ will be the new line when Ronseal changes its name to thunderstorm, paintbrush, shield and hero. Maybe we’re on to something.

Brands christened with emojis could be the way forward.

Not so fast.

When you read the name Coca Cola earlier on, a small firework display happened in your head. Synapses hugged synapses, images jumped onto the screen in your mind and memories were broadcast over your internal PA system. Words can do that. Names can do that. Because they are suggestive not prescriptive.

Emojis tell you what the feeling is supposed to be but names cause that feeling.

Through a magical combination of experiences and syllables. And everyone will have a different emotion on reading that name. And they will own that emotion. It will be unique to them.

Emojis are lowest common denominator emotions.

There are no nuances, no shades of anger, grief, joy or sadness. They are as unidimensional as the characters in laundry ads because they have to be instantly read and processed. Because they have to be understood by all and alienate no-one But relationships with brands are much, much more complicated than that. And any brand thinking that it can speak emotional Esperanto by using emojis is deluded. It may cross language barriers but all that does is reduce the world to a finite set of predictable and limited expressions. And no-one has yet managed to create a sarcasm emoji so the whole of the north of England will never be a part of this global family.

Brands which have been shot Cupid-style into consumer’s hearts have done so via a quiverful of arrows both experiential and emotional. It is not quick. But it is enduring, that most precious of qualities in a disposable world. A name is familiar, recognisable and distinctive. It’s why naming is such a vital and undervalued part of the creative process.

Emojis will continue to serve their purpose as the fast food of feelings but they can never replace the power and resonance of a name. And besides, see how thrilled the bar staff would be if they had to wait for you to ask for a statue of liberty, crown, stars and stripes, tankard of beer?

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