Emojis: Can They be Used Professionally?

It’s hard to not go through a day without using an emoji, in some way or another. They have, whether you like them or not, become part of our vocabulary and a language that has embedded itself into our daily conversations. Used by 92% of the online population and with the recent ‘Emoji Movie’ being released, there really is no escaping…

But, how can we embrace emojis in professional communications?

As an agency who deliver creative communications solutions for a variety of clients, emojis are something that will only become more prevalent. We are seeing a vast number of organisations use emojis to better connect with their audiences through social media, but will we start seeing these in other communication channels?

In general, communication is primarily received by body language and tonality, something that can’t exactly be communicated via social media, emails, instant messaging, and so on. Emojis provide a way in which our audiences can understand our messages much more easily, leading to better engagement and understanding.

Just like in many other areas for communications, the audience is the main consideration, whether that be external or internal. Age, gender, job role and so on, all play a part in whether to use emojis – and, if so, what emojis should be used? Women message more than men do – with 56% of women sending several mobile messages per day compared with 44% of men, and even older generations are getting onboard with the new language.

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It’s not all smiley faces and thumbs up…

Emojis have become a worldwide language, enabling better communication to a wider global audience, but culture and beliefs need to be taken into consideration. Emoji meanings can vary across countries and cultures, and often change due to mass usage of another intended meaning. For example:

Waving hand – A simple hello or goodbye wave, but in China, it is used to let somebody know ‘we’re no longer friends’

Two dancing women – Initially, the design was meant to represent two playboy bunnies, but now can be recognised as a symbol for going out or having fun with friends.

The emoji language has become so embedded into our communications that, at the end of 2016, the first ever ‘Emoji Translator’ role was listed.


We can now send and receive emojis over almost any platform, but this can be a potential issue. Every platform has a slightly different emoji design. For example, the grinning emoji (often used by iPhone users to convey tension) has a completely different look and message on Android (a very happy face).

Therefore, consideration of emojis need to be taken into account, otherwise messages may be misconstrued or confusing for your audience

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To sum up, what is best practice and how can emojis play a key role in professional communications? *thinking emoji*

  • They are available to express messages and give your brand a personality
  • We want to avoid misunderstandings and confusion with our communications. Use emojis to add tonality to messages, delivering better understanding
  • Researching the varying designs across platforms is vital. For the avoidance of doubt, keep it simple
  • If communicating to a global audience, it’s vital to research the various meanings across cultures. Small mistakes could have a detrimental effect
  • Know your audience…

And to leave you with a fun fact…

It is purely coincidence the word emoji is similar to the words ‘emoticon’ and ‘emotion’. It actually derives from the Japanese language – picture (e) and character (moji).

David Lewis – Marketing & Social Media Executive


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