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5 Key Rules for Brands Using Emojis

Emojis have become a common part of digital communication, particularly across social media and messaging apps. They’re a fun, cute way to add personality to a friendly conversation or express emotion when words don’t feel like they’re enough. For brands, however, they’re a different ballgame and something that should be used strategically.

Previously reserved for personal conversations, emojis have made their way into corporate communication over the past couple years. But just like proper punctuation, grammar, and spelling, there are right and wrong ways to use emojis. And as most brands establish guides for written tone and style, any customer engagement team should have a similar guide for how to use (or not use) them.

1. Don’t overuse emojis

Just like ending a sentence with one exclamation point is enough, one emoji is usually enough. Sure, there are exceptions when 2 or more emojis might be appropriate in a specific context, but responding to a customer’s funny comment with 😂 is just as effective as, and certainly less spammy than, responding with 😂😂😂😂😂😂.

Emojis aren’t punctuation; they don’t need to end every sentence. In some cases, especially positive interactions, they can be a fun way to add emotion and personality to a message, but they shouldn’t be required for the customer to understand your intended tone.

Which brings us to the next point…

2. Emojis are not a substitute for clear writing

There is such an array of facial expressions represented in emojis, but remember that your written message should convey the proper tone without them. And in some cases, particularly around sensitive customer issues or negative experiences, emojis are entirely inappropriate.

A good practice that will keep your writing sharp in the age of emojis: ask yourself, If I remove the emoji, does my tone still come across correctly?

3. Know emojis’ “other” meanings

The eggplant and peach emojis are great examples of this. While you may not feel compelled to use them in most customer interactions, if you ever do want to include a fruit or vegetable in your message, better to choose some with less room for interpretation.

Emojipedia is a great place to check for potential double meanings.

4. Don’t lick your customers

Emojis like 😛, 😋, 😜, and 😝 can be used to represent playfulness, but for most brands, these tongue-out emojis are too casual. If you were assisting a customer in an in-person setting, you wouldn’t stick your tongue out at them, so don’t do it online, either. The tongue-less versions of those same emojis are far more appropriate (😃😉😆).

5. Know how emojis will display across platforms and devices

Take one of the tongue examples from #4: 😋. On Facebook, Messenger, and Samsung devices, it displays with the tongue up, as if to be savoring delicious food. But on most other platforms, the tongue is down, which most people would interpret as joking or silliness.

Similarly, the pencil emoji points left on some platforms and right on others. If you want to pair it with a piece of paper to indicate writing, you’ll need to choose the correct side of the paper depending on the platform. Don’t overlook the great aesthetic difference between 📄✏️ and ✏️📄.

With emojis, as with all written communication, the devil is in the details. As a brand, careful use of emojis will ensure you convey the right emotion at the right time while maintaining the appropriate level of professionalism. Texting your best friend, on the other hand? Feel free to go crazy.

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