World Emoji Day is upon us (which directly translates to 🌎😀📆). July 17th is the date displayed on the calendar emoji, making it the obvious choice for this extremely important holiday.
Just why is this day so important? This listicle explores the evolution of emojis, how they have forever changed our communication styles and their ability to transcend identity.
What started as a smiley face is now a gallery of some of the most recognizable icons for both Millennials and Gen-Z’ers. We can choose to look at these colorful graphics as symbols that live on our screens and beneath our thumbs, while we text, tweet and share; or we can choose to use these icons as a communication tool to deliver messages that yield storytelling, representation and signify inclusion.
Emojis break the barrier of language communication in the digital world. This is huge for us digital marketers! These language-transcending “characters” have more than just penetrated our daily conversations - they’ve become their own form of communication.
The word “emoji” stems from the word “emotion” - while some of the more obscure ones are a bit hard to contextualiz), we can use so many of them instead of text to express how we feel or tell a story.
To see just how much emojis have influenced our culture, look no further than Facebook. In 2016, Facebook released Reactions - an upgrade to the classic thumbs-up “like” button that had remained unchanged since it was first introduced in early 2009.
New options consisted of “love”, “haha”, “wow”, “sad” and “angry”. Facebook product developers were faced with the challenge of making this new community of reactions “universally understood and equally useful”.
Not all content on Facebook can be responded to with a simple thumbs-up. Diversifying the options for Facebook’s billions of users allowed people to express their reactions more accurately. This served as a benchmark of achievement for the evolution of emojis.
But it’s not just Facebook that has recognized the power of emojis. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City installed an exhibit featuring the original emoji graphics that evolved into so much more. “Art is in the eye of the smartphone holder”, explains MoMa.
Emojis are a form of identity and expression. When people use emojis, they want to feel represented on their keyboards. In 2015, the skin tone modifier was created to “support [skin tones and] a range of family combinations” (pictured below).
These strides towards diversifying representation further prove that emojis hold more meaning than we often give them credit for. In fact, Apple proposed that the 2019 emojis include an emphasis on the handicapped community, the deaf community, service animals and prosthetics. Thumbs up to that, Apple!
Although World Emoji Day may seem trivial, when we acknowledge how far emojis have come from even a few years ago and the tremendous power they have over the digital community, it’s worth celebrating.
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Lindsey is Hawke’s Content Project Manager. She lives and breathes content creation and loves photography.