September 23, 2022

The global language of emojis

Richard Arnone
7 Communications
Senior Designer

Have you ever felt a vibration in your pocket and pulled out your phone only to discover that nobody has texted or called and the vibration was completely in your head? How about hearing an iPhone ‘ping’ (you know the sound), and before your brain can tell your hand that the sound obviously came from 25 feet away and not your pocket, you’ve pulled out your device and are staring at a blank screen. That ever happen to you? Yeah, ditto.

Today’s digital user interactions are so powerful and impactful that, once embedded into our lives, they can literally cause us to feel or experience things that aren’t real, or to act instinctively before logic has a chance to kick in. The medium has all but become the message, as the great Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan predicted.

Facebook messenger app icon with five notifications.

I remember being fascinated by McLuhan’s teachings when I learned about them in a mass communications class I took in university, and now, as a senior designer for an agency that works with some of the most forward-thinking brands in the world, it’s almost surreal to see how spot on he was. This is also a part of what makes working in design and animation so exciting at the moment.

Our devices – particularly the smartphone – have become like physical appendages of our bodies, to the extent that it’s not uncommon for somebody heading out for just a few hours to turn their car around and drive back if they forgot to pack it. What if somebody calls or you need to find directions to a new spot? The pagers and paper maps are long gone.

Silouette of person in front of gradient, colorful background, looking at their phone.

And the devices themselves have also changed how we communicate. Growing up through the MSN Messenger era and when typing a “C” on your cellphone meant pressing “2”,­ three times, vowels became optional in written conversation and has not only continued today but evolved.

Then there’s emojis, which blow me away in and of themselves. With a few basic yellow cartoon faces and a collection of fruit and vegetables, a Chinese speaking consumer can communicate whole volumes of information to an English or French speaking consumer or vice versa. I’d go so far as to say emoji-speak has surpassed English and is currently the closest thing we have to a global language.

Plush emoji pillow hung on a fence.

I try to keep the enormity of these truths in mind as I work on front-end design projects for 7 Communications, whether it’s while building customer-facing marketing materials for an exclusive luxury automotive brand or creating the backdrop for an internal newsletter. Digital design is in an exciting heyday, where professionals are able to bring cutting-edge ideas and solutions to clients, and not the other way around. Things are moving fast, boundaries are being pushed, and our minds crave immersion more now than ever.

It’s become a part of our job (well, my job at least) to guide those we work with, showing them how their brand messaging can be brought to life with subtle animations or clever uses of modern design techniques, how the most minute change can draw the user into the experience that much more.

Donut with icing and sprinkles sitting on a colored table.

Personally, I’ve been enjoying exploring the realm of 3D animation lately, but that’s just one of the tools available to the modern digital designer. And to be honest, I still haven’t mastered the emoji.

Emoji of man shrugging