Branded Emoticons: Marketing Via Cute Images

Ikea EmoticonEmoticons, emojis, and stickers are image-based forms of communication that allow mobile conversations to go beyond words. It is for this reason that many of your favorite (and not so favorite) brands are designing their own variety of emoticons. Mobile communication is consistently increasing month over month, so brands like Coca-Cola, Mentos, General Electric, Comedy Central, Taco Bell, and Ikea have invested marketing spend into supporting the emoji movement. These custom branded emoticons encourage user engagement with the brand beyond first-level interactions.

According to eMarketer data, there are almost 2 million smartphones being used worldwide. It would be a major opportunity missed if brands did not take advantage of users’ love for emoticons. If a brand is able to entice a user to download their emoticon pack, they get multiple levels of engagement with that user and their friends. You get a user who is willing to go through an entire download process to get your branded images. Then, that user will encourage their friends to get the branded pack so they may use the branded images to communicate. A brand is in a prime marketing position if they can manage to get friends to market the brand to their friends. Branded emoticons are also a great resource for international marketing considering the fact that Internet-based messaging services are often used by international consumers.

Coca-Cola and Ikea both launched branded emoticons mid-February. Ikea’s pack included 100 branded emoticons, including Swedish meatballs, dachshund, and furniture pieces. Ikea claims that men and women would get along better if they had “domestically themed emojis to help them communicate property in their text messages.” Ikea is trying to play therapist in their latest campaign promoting the emoticons. Everyone knows that friction is bound to happen between couples when it comes to planning their domestication, so Ikea is trying to take a comical approach to making their buying experience easier on the couples. The emoji pack has mixed reviews within the download forums, but the idea is downright clever.

Coca-Cola Puerto Rico promoted a happiness campaign featuring emoticons used in URLs. Coke touted, “The universal brand of happiness now uses the happiness icon as their URL.” Although the idea is cool to have an emoji as a web address, the address has to use the suffix “.ws” which is the domain for Samoa because .com, .net, and .org do not support emojis as valid web addresses.

tacobellemojiTaco Bell even went as far as to petition on for a taco emoji that directly resembles a Taco Bell hard shell beef taco. If you want to help support Taco Bell’s “cause,” you can sign the petition here. So far, they are at 30,442 supporters out of the 35,000 needed.

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