Emoji Brands: Taking Names at Face Value

By 100m
March 3, 2015
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Filed under Branding, Naming, Positioning

Doubters beware: emoji are here to stay. Their Western invasion (or welcomed arrival, depending on your point of view) began in earnest in 2010, when Unicode, the computer industry text standard, released Unicode Standard 6.0. At Google and Apple’s behest, that character set included 722 new symbols that would come to redefine the way we communicate.


If that sounds grandiose, consider this insane emoji tracker. At the time of writing, “face with tears of joy” had been used 62 million times on Twitter. That’s a testament to the power of emoji’s ability to infuse messages with emotion. In earlier years, untangling the tone of a text was a Sisyphean task. Short messages might seem terse, but add “haha” or “lol” and amusement came through. Other tics were more ambiguous: did “…” function as a comma or show reluctance? Did a single sentence ending in a period come from grammatical concerns or curtness?

Emoji answered these questions. For mobile users, they’re the clearest and fastest way to communicate emotion. With support on iOS, Android, OS X, and Windows, the software giants have caught on. Brands are getting in on the game, too, with companies like GE and Budweiser tweeting emoji and even creating periodic tables for them. That got us thinking: what would a brand built around emoji look like? How would it work in real life?


Emoji bring some built-in brand positioning. They’ll automatically attract a younger, internet-savvy group, and suggest that you share a brand. The emotional content of emoji is perfectly suited to branding, which, at its core, is all about emotion. On a more practical level, the merchandising opportunities would be golden. Plus, there’s no need to design a logo.

emoji-brandingGoogling an emoji is still impossible—URLs are text-only—so the name of the brand would, out of necessity, be the name of the emoji. In the real world, though, everywhere the name text would go, it’d be replaced with the image. Business cards, store signs, and advertisements would use the emoji instead of a text-based name. It’s a unique way to make sure you’re remembered. Because emoji work best in digital communication, it’ll be harder for the brand to spread via word-of-mouth. Paradoxically, that’s a good thing: when something’s harder to talk about, people try harder, and spend more time on it.

To begin the thought experiment, we hand-picked particularly evocative emoji. Here’s what we came up with:

SLEEPING FACEbranding-emoji
aka: Sleepy Face, Sleep Face
article on Emojipedia

 For the low, low price of $15.50, this emoji’s dot-com (sleepingface.com) can turn your sleeping pill or mattress showroom into an instant classic. Twitter’s 29th-most used emoji can link your brand to an ever-popular expression of boredom, asking potential customers, “Bored? Why not have a SleepyFace?”


aka: Peace, V-Sign, Air Quotes
article on Emojipedia

 Own a piece of history with this cultural standby. Returning World War 2 soldiers used these two fingers to symbolize victory. In the 1960’s, the counterculture movement appropriated it as a sign of peace. It spread to East Asia in the 1970’s, perhaps as a result of Janet Lynn’s figure skating performance at the Sapporo Olympics. Turned backwards, it’s the UK version of the middle finger. East Asian photography studios and East London skateboard brands could ride this emoji to fame, but the Victory Hand, Twitter’s 20th-most popular emoji, best suits communes.


aka: Flying Money, Losing Money
article on Emojipedia

 Tempus fugit, said the Romans. Time flies. And if time is money, Money with Wings actually makes a bit of sense. Using this emoji as the foundation for a brand would do something that some of our favorite names do: it would name the problem. Businesses that help people keep money in their pockets—banks, lenders, budgeting software developers—could use this to their advantage. A literal-minded jet manufacturer might make good use of Money with Wings, too.


aka: Scrunched Eyes, Helpless Face
article on Emojipedia

Attention, laxative brands: perseveringface.com costs only $15.50.


 That’s all, folks.