By Rachel Hornay, Art/Copy Intern

They say that a picture is worth a thousands words, especially with today’s language evolving with the usage of emoji characters. Emojis are intended to illustrate, or in some cases replace altogether, the words we send each other digitally, whether in a text message, email, or tweet. Instagram calls emoji a natural language or visual language that form a bridge between different languages and cultures. According to Swyft Media, 74 percent of people in the U.S. regularly use stickers, emoticons or emojis in their online communication, sending an average of 96 emojis per day. All this adds up to a total of 6 billion emojis flying around the world every day on mobile messaging apps. As the popularity of using emojis grows, a shift in our communication becomes evident.

When we first started using a digital language, text messages were popularized as a short, simple and direct form of communication that was easier than leaving a voicemail or sending an email. We are developing faster ways to communicate. A change from using abbreviations such as LOL has now turned to a laughing smiley face emoji. The digital language has changed such that nearly half of comments and captions on Instagram contain emoji characters. The strong usage of emoji in our digital communication has lead to Instagram adding support for emoji characters in hashtags, which allows people to tag and search content with emojis. We have evolved to treating emojis as if they are words, a new part of our language.

As humans, emotions are a big part of how we show empathy and build relationships. Online, we miss this element. The empathy is lost with just text. Emojis changes how the brain recognizes and processes them as emotional communications. Essentially, emojis are doing what the tone of voice does on the telephone and what expressions and gestures do in face-to-face communication. Scientists have discovered that when we look at a smiley face online, the same parts of the brain are activated as we look at a real human face, we might even alter our facial expressions to match the emoji. Essentially, the emergence of emojis in social media culture has created a new brain pattern within us.

So can all those smiles, thumbs ups, dancers and ghosts icons really help a brand? Yes! Just one emoji can create a connection between a brand and its audience, mostly the younger audience. This gives brands a personality and enhances a relationship and increase engagement all at the same time. Unlike words, emojis convey a range of complex emotions in fewer characters. It’s a universal form of language that everyone can understand, essentially breaking/transcending language barriers. Emojis help to drive home brand messages and interact with your audience. Emojis can be a perfect tool for a brand wanting to reach a younger audience. Some brands that have succeeded in using emojis include Dominos, Oreo, Budweiser and even PETA. Taco Bell even started a petition for the emoji designers to create a taco emoji, that’s one way to start some buzz. As we become more techs savvy and social media culture grows, brands have an opportunity to connect with an audience in a fun new way. I say that’s a thumbs up emoji idea for any brand.