Face the facts - emoji proposals shouldn't be boring
As an organisation, Bottle recently took part in the Fast Company’s Creative Challenge. If you’re new to this idea, as i was, it consists of 14 consecutive days of - yep you guessed it - creative challenges. Every day a new email would land in your inbox at about 11am with a differently curated idea and task.
Day 1: 5 minute description of who I am,
Day 2: Can you decode these bad duolingo translations?,
Day 3: Create a custom set of emojis...
pause for thought... this is an intriguing idea. I had recently listened to the 99% invisible podcast, Person in Lotus Position, that covers Radio Producer Mark Bramhill’s emojinal journey to find out who gets the final decision about which tiny pictures get to live inside our smartphones.
Side note: I haven’t seen The Emoji Movie 2017, but i’d take a wild 🗡 in the 🚫💡 that I’ve just given a pretty accurate synopsis of the plot.
As the podcast continues, we hear accounts from linguists, designers and experts who begin to discuss the purpose and considerations of the illusive Unicode Consortium. Their Emoji Subcommittee meet to deliberate on new emoji proposals and to give them the 👍 or 👎. Sadly, it’s not as easy as sending them a WhatsApp message to them to tell them, “Me and my friend think that there needs to be a sausage dog emoji because there isn’t one and they are super cute!!!”. So when I say “emoji proposals”, this really is as formal and time-consuming as it sounds. They take it all extremely seriously, and you can’t really blame them for that when you consider that there are an estimated 5 billion emojis used each day on Messenger alone. Unlike Twitmoji, whereby you can pay Twitter to have your own tiny branded graphic, Unicode actively ensure that an emoji should not be representative of an established brand. The rule is, that once an emoji has been deliberated and accepted, that it will exist as part of the library forevermore. Given these facts, there is an obvious reluctance to accept an emoji proposal that they will regret somewhere down the line.
With this information fresh in my mind, I decide that not only should I create a custom emoji that the @FastCompany will be pleased for me to tweet about, but will also complete a full submission to have an emoji idea accepted by Unicode, and 🤞 added to the emojipedia forever.
I begin by making a list of ideas:
Front facing bull’s head
Spiralling illusion wheel
Emergency exit sign
Zeus throwing lightning
None of the above currently exist as emoji, yet it’s easy to imagine some or all of them as part of the extensive database that sits on our phones. If you are anything like me, you begin to imagine them as their tiny pixel images. You picture smartphone speech bubbles in which you construct sentences that these might appear in. You start wondering what other meanings these might begin to take as they become misappropriated over time…🍆 .... You start to wonder how no one has ever pitched this idea. The whole process of convincing yourself takes a matter of seconds, but in order to submit your idea to Unicode, you will need to put together a considered and convincing, evidence-based proposal.
During my research, websites such as Emojione became valuable resources that hint at the kind of questions that should be answered. Despite this, every example proposal that I come across looks like a GCSE book report, complete with Harvard referencing. These aren’t exciting to read, and yet, the prospect of creating something that will be immortalized in technology history, is exciting.
Mark Bramhill travelled to California to present his proposal before the Unicode panel. He did so because it makes for a more interesting piece of podcast journalism. Realistically most people that submit cannot do the same, so why wouldn’t entrants make sure that every submission shows the same appreciation for graphics that underpins the very existence of an emoji?
Graphics, colours, hierarchy of information, consistent styling and tone of voice, can all help to give a proposal the personality that it deserves.
I spend time mimicking the Apple style of emojis and included mock conversations which make the emoji feel as if it should already exist. The more I can do through design to make the submission feel palpable, the closer I become to it being accepted. Take a look through my submission for Hand Holding Lightning emoji below. If accepted, then an emoji, chosen for its nod towards the Bottle logo, will sit on smartphones the worldover.
The entire process is a lengthy one, so we are unlikely to find out, until 2018, if our proposal has been a success. Even, if it is not then I can be sure that I did everything that I could to push through an idea.
Emojis will always be limited and therefore not all ideas are destined to become emojis.