The modern hieroglyphics

Our ability to communicate has never been greater. Not only from the perspective of the different options we have available with increased channels tools and improved accessibility, but also in the manner we communicate.

One small but certainly not insignificant change has been the introduction and evolution emojis. Although some may think it’s a newer form of communication, emojis have been around since 1999 thanks to Shigetaka Kurita who created the ability to send a digital heart on early Japanese pagers.

“At first we were just designing for the Japanese market,” says Kurita. “I didn’t assume that emoji would spread and become so popular internationally. I’m surprised at how widespread they have become. Then again, they are universal, so they are useful communication tools that transcend language.”

Kurita went on to design more and as we’ve seen today, the form has morphed with varying degrees of adoption and duration. Flash back to a time where colons, brackets and other such keyboard standards transformed into full images themselves.


Then came the ‘emoticon’, the emoji predecessor, that took the complex graphics from above and made this simple. While also allowing for some personal character with many debating equal signs vs colons, to dash or not to dash and so on.


Today there’s a lot of talk about bitmojis and memojis that are much more detailed than the emoji used by many in text or tweets to add emotional nuances. Some argue that it’s a millennial messaging fad, however as we start to see the emojis appear in corporate communications, media releases and even as ‘rating’ systems for whether we love, are angry at or want to ‘wow’ at social media posts the future is interesting for this humble graphic.

From its potential to replace the traditional 1-10 NPS measures with a simple thumbs up/thumbs down option to its ability to inform sentiment engines and become an important tool for translation and communication across cultures, media types and time zones.

In case you missed it, we even celebrate this seemingly universal digital language on 17 July, otherwise known as ‘World Emoji Day’ – cleverly noted for those on an Apple or Google platform, as its the date the calendar emoji 📆 shows.

Whatever your preference, considering how emojis could work into your business, communications plans or practices may be essential for connecting with new audiences in the future. Particularly if you’re looking to expand across time zones or need to inject a little more ‘personality’ into your corporate persona.