May 17, 2016Published by: Mashaal Jolly

The rise of the Emoji

Everyone loves emojis. They’re often used to joke, express feelings, and at times give someone a piece of your mind. At Battenhall, we love using them for our daily WhatsApp Broadcast messages  - which is what inspired us to look into  where the universal language of emoji comes from, who decides what emoji launches next and why so many brands and influencers are quickly jumping on the trend.

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The name emoji itself consists of a combination of two Japanese words - ‘e’ representing the “picture”  and ‘moji’ meaning  the “letter” or “character”. The first ever emoji was created between 1998 and 1999 in Japan by Shigetaka Kurita, an employee of NTT DoCoMo - one of the world’s first mobile internet platforms. Kurita’s dream was to "create a new alphabet" that was more direct and visual, for example when referring to good weather, he said he’d rather see a picture of the sun, instead of a text saying ‘fine’.” Since then The Unicode Consortium, a non-profit organisation located in Silicon Valley, has become in charge of the emoji, now the UK's fastest growing language, to the point that even The Oxford Dictionary named 😂 (“Face With Tears of Joy”) as the 2015 Word of the Year.

The Unicode Consortium evaluates which images to add to its database based on three points:  its demand, the gap in the market and whether people would actually use it. This is why in the past year, more and more brands and celebrities , such as body-care company Dove and Kim Kardashian have either created, or have plans to create, their own customised emoji keyboards. Is this the new future of mobile advertising?

The trend of emoji is also being adopted by social platforms such as Snapchat, which recently added a stickers feature to its platform - allowing you to add moving or still emojis over your images and videos. This means the emoji is still evolving, entering newer territories, and due to our ability to mix and match, each emoji is starting to tell a different story. Does this mean that the future of the way we communicate will change too?

It’s difficult to predict the future of the emoji, but our guess is that they will soon be adopted into most written forms of communication, and those not using them might need to start!

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