Emoji Meanings | What is emoji?

The era of the smartphone has given rise to a non-binary "language" used to communicate without words via text or apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. This language is called Emoji, and most people can understand the visual cues associated with these tiny images. While emojis are up to interpretation and are mostly meant to be fun to use.

What is Emoji / Emoticons?

Emoticons and Emojis are thriving in today’s age and have become widely universal. They were invented to avoid confusion through text based conversations. Although Emojis and emoticons serve a similar purpose in expressing emotions, they are different. Emoticons show emotions in text by using typographic punctuation marks, in a way that resembles a facial expression view from the side. Emojis are pictographs, conveying emotions, feelings and activities through colorful graphics in electronic text. Emojis are more used today because they are more expressive and advanced. Most platforms today automatically convey the inputted emoticon as an Emoji. Emojis have become a necessary part of modern electronic communication.

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History of emojis / emoticons

Scott Fahlman of France presented the first digital appearance of the emoticon in 1982 to distinguish between humorous and serious posts between faculty members. Having no way to distinguish sarcasm through electronic text caused frustration and miscommunication between members. This was because an electronic text lacks language or voice cues that are used to convey emotion. Fahlman became aware of this issue and created a solution by creating the Emoticon. Emoticons were a huge improvement in text based communication and it only took a matter of months before, this text based solution, spread to other schools. 15 years later, Nicolas Loufrani, the French president of Smiley Company trademarked the smiley face and promoted the emoticon by using it to indicate good news in the newspaper. Nicolas Loufrani and his father Franklin Loufrani, created an online emoticon dictionary in 1997, which was registered with the United States Copyright Office.

Meanwhile in Japan, Shigetaka Kurita released the i-mode, the world´s first major mobile internet system. With this system he created the first 176 Emoji designs for the Japanese mobile carriers. Shigetaka Kurita created the mobile phone Emoji as a solution to a problem he noticed. Previous to the mobile phone, Japan used Pagers called Pocket bells that were very popular among teenagers. A heart symbol was created and used on this device. Shigetaka Kurita noticed the outcry it caused when Pocket Bell dropped this heart symbol to become more business oriented. He realized that symbols were an important part of mobile communication for young users and wanted to implement them into his own mobile internet system. He turned to Chinese characters and manga for inspiration to create the Emojis. Soon after it was released, other mobile carriers in Japan were creating their own Emoji designs as well. Shigetaka Kurita did not realize how much this idea would take off, as Emojis are now used globally.

It wasn´t until 2010, that Emojis were introduced to other mobile platforms, such as Apple and Google. As well as messaging apps like Apple´s Whatsapp or Google’s Hangouts. Although Emojis can vary in style on each platform, they portray the same meaning. There has been debate on some Emojis that were not clear enough, but most popular platforms are always updating and pleasing their customers. It is because of the Standardized Unicode that the same meaning graphic shows up for one platform as another, even if they vary some graphically. This is important in relaying the correct emotion in a conversation when one person uses an Apple phone and another uses a Google phone. As of May 2017, there is over 2,000 official Emojis in the Unicode Standard. Apple marked July 17th as World Emoji Day and released final versions of new Emojis for iOS 11 that comes out fall of 2017.

Other corporations are finding ways to incorporate Emojis into their businesses because they find that using Emojis brings more user interaction. Dominos now allows customers to order pizza with an Emoji and Chevrolet asked people to decode a whole press release in Emoji. Emojis are friendly, inviting, and relatable. Incorporating them in a fun and interesting way is a great way humanize a business.

We can thank Scott Fahlman and Nicolas Loufrani, for noticing a problem with text based misunderstandings in their jobs and creating the Emoticon as the solution. As years went on, the Emoji style design became more popular. Shigetaka Kurita from Japan noticed a growing need for symbols in mobile communication and implemented Emojis into his mobile internet system. This evolution of the Emoticon to Emojis, attracted young users and created a big market for various platforms and applications. This then opened up opportunity for businesses to take advantage of the growing market as well and that is why Emojis are successfully thriving today.

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