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The Oxford Dictionary has announced its ‘word of 2015’ and for the first time it’s not a word; it’s a picture.

More accurately, it’s an emoji – a small, yellow smiley face weeping tears of joy that we’ve all been using to express that something (or somebody) makes us happy.

Personally, I’ve been slow to adopt emoji. This is partly because I thought it something more suited to my kids - or my younger colleagues. There are also so many to choose from – by the time I’ve trawled through literally hundreds of emoji, looking for the one that captures what I’m trying to convey, the moment has gone.

But now the Oxford Dictionary says it’s okay – and even my father-in-law is using them – so it looks like I need to buck up my ideas before another technology trend train leaves the station and I’m left wondering how I missed it.

So, as I set about embracing this brave new world in my personal life, I’m simultaneously presented with a searching question as a business communications man. At what point – if ever - do emoji start to become a legitimate part of my professional communications tool kit?

Well, I have clients who aren’t averse to including a smiley face at the end of their emails to me, recognising a job well done – fair enough. Maybe it’s OK if I start to respond in kind... 🙂

But how would they feel if I sent them a press release for approval that concluded with a tiny emoji hand giving a ‘thumbs up’ to their announcement? Or, better still I submitted my next strategy paper or campaign idea rounded off with some ‘clapping hands’ to emphasise the brilliance of Camargue’s thinking?

I suspect it is a step too far at present but the use of emoji seem to have already captured the public’s imagination, so why not the business community too? It would be a brave man who bet against their popularity and prevalence continuing to grow. Perhaps it could lead to the creation of a whole new set of business emoji?

😎 😀 😉

Toby Barker headshot

Toby Barker, associate director