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Does your brand need an emoji keyboard?

It is no secret that emojis have become mobile-savvy consumers’ new currency of choice. Although the emoji craze first kicked off within messaging apps such as Kik and Facebook Messenger, its popularity has spilled over to brands’ marketing efforts.

A growing number of marketers – ranging from smaller brands to national chains – are rolling out proprietary emoji keyboards that individuals can download for free from Google Play or the Apple App Store. Not only does this type of mobile marketing initiative inject organic branding into unsuspecting consumers’ conversations, but it also promotes more interactivity and creativity among organizations and their customers. Companies pondering the pros and cons of investing in a set of emojis should consider how a keyboard fits in with their overall mobile initiatives.

For example, Macy’s recently rolled out its first emoji keyboard to coincide with a fall campaign for one of its apparel brands, I.N.C. International Concepts. The retailer chose to include emojis that represented the campaign’s star, fashion legend Iris Apfel, and were also relatable to its female target demographic. The new keyboard, which complemented the I.N.C. fall collection, gave users more incentives to interact with Macy’s in a non-direct way.

Meanwhile, Dove’s foray into emojis was accompanied by a strong corporate social responsibility angle. Last fall, the personal care brand introduced a keyboard app that featured cartoon emojis representing women with different hair styles and skin tones in a bid to promote greater diversity. Previously, emojis depicting individuals lacked diversity, prompting Dove to roll out an app with a wide range of choices. The cartoon-like emojis display light and dark-skinned women with hair types ranging from curly to straight, allowing users to choose the icon they feel best represents themselves. Not only was Dove able to secure early entry into the emoji market, but it also helped a plethora of women feel more accepted and appreciated when it came to their physical appearance.

A slew of food and beverage brands have also entered the emoji realm with their own unique spins. Heineken commemorated its annual Rivalry Week festivities – hosted in conjunction with Major League Soccer – via a custom emoji that appeared whenever consumers used the hashtag #RivalryWeek in any Tweet. This strategy prompted more Twitter fans to use the hashtag and also set up an incentivized system: if consumers wanted access to the exclusive emoji, they needed to include a bit of branding in their Tweet.

Fellow beverage brand Pepsi took a more overt approach to its emoji tactics. Last week, Pepsi was announced as the premier marketer to team up with Twitter and use the social network’s promoted stickers. Instead of rolling out its own emoji keyboard app requiring a separate download, Pepsi designed a handful of stickers with which Twitter users can adorn their photos. The emojis, which appear in Twitter’s #Stickers library, act as visual hashtags. Per Twitter, this means that all posts including a branded sticker are discoverable by other individuals who happen to tap on it. Therefore, marketers who choose to use promoted stickers will be able to collect a holistic view of all of the consumers interacting with their emojis – and how they are doing so.

Leveraging the popularity of emojis is a must-have strategy for any major brand. However, the actual execution of this tactic can be completed in a variety of different ways – which makes the brainstorming process all the more fun.

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Kristin Schepici, Director, Marketing

Kristin is a senior marketing professional with a strong focus in multimedia and experience developing and executing integrated marketing communication plans. With a strong focus on inbound marketing, she oversees the development and implementation of online marketing strategies.

Topics: emoji keyboard

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