The little digital lexicon: emoji.

Every month, Laurent François deciphers the words of our digital identities, linked to current events.

/emoji/ : “In an electronic message and on social networks, graphic representation (still or animated image) used to express an emotion, represent a character, an animal, an action, etc.” (Larousse)

In 1999, Shigetaka Kurita created 176 emojis for a new mobile internet service, “i-mode”. These characters, which are a kind of “emotion words”, were initially aimed at maximizing the way in which users could express ideas and encourage interactions within the limit of the 250 characters authorized to send a message. In 2023, emojis – and their cousins ​​”stickers” on social networks – are now part of the language of communities. Billions of combinations that convey both cultural codes and a certain celebration of belonging. Moreover, the first symbols using 2 points for the eyes and a raised line for the mouth date from the Hittite empire!

The emoji: signifying attachment, conveying a sense of togetherness

At Tiffany & Co, customers or fans react on social networks by sending hearts with a blue close to the reference 1837 of the brand’s iconic Pantone Matching System 🩵. On the Biotherm side, we appropriate the vague emoji and also a heart, summarizing the notion of “Water Lovers” 🌊💙, while on the side of Guram Gvasalia (VETEMENTS), the 🖤 plays the role of the brand’s standard.

On the pop-culture side, emojis serve as sign of cultural recognition. Blackpink frequently sees its many communities mentioning the combination 🖤💖.

For luxury brands, successfully entering everyday language by providing semiological tools that tell the story of the brand is an approach that can help increase relevance. Especially since social networks encourage this mode of engagement with content, such as recent announcements from Instagram which is integrating new features into its messaging.

Talk about luxury in emojis

Far from being a regression, emojis are opening up new creative universes around the world. As early as 2016, Versace had created an application to distribute branded emojis as well as a line of t-shirts, while in 2017, Chanel launched its Rouge Coco Gloss Sticker, a pack allowing users to use these visual onomatopoeias on iMessage . A time when Gucci also launched the viral phenomenon #TFWGucci (“That Feeling When Gucci”) in order to develop a conversational strategy in line with digital uses. An idea taken to Gucci Ha Ha Ha in 2022, a capsule collection between Alessandro Michele and Harry Styles strongly influenced by their Whatsapp conversations, the legend of which says that they always end with a Ha Ha Ha.

Emojis pushed by brands also make it possible to promote some control in the way brand codes are used or misused.

A polymorphic visual object, which explodes through new digital uses: reactions to creators’ live broadcasts on TikTok, new narrative patterns on Wechat, possibilities of creating your own emojis or stickers directly in messaging applications: a subject of branding and influence.

Laurent François is an advertising agency manager, specialist in creative and digital strategies for luxury houses. He is the author of “Social Networks: a Community of Life” at L’Harmattan and runs the newsletter “En Vivance”.

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