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As working remotely becomes the new normal, we’re isolated with our laptops, iPads and phones more than ever. We use these devices throughout the day, for hours; which has led to digital dependency. Technology has become an integral part of our lives, and to a great extent dictates how we communicate with others.

Despite working remotely for the past 4 months, we have found an effective way to stay connected and collaborate effectively as a team. Slack is our go-to platform for things like discussing business strategy, brainstorming ideas, to non-work related banter to keep the spirits high during the pandemic. An interesting and creative way to communicate via emojis has become quite popular in our team. In some cases, they have nearly replaced words and emotions altogether, and you will begin to agree with me by the end of this article.

What’s so great about emojis?

Most of the time sending an emoji is almost like a reflex action; a universal language that everyone understands. Emojis have also allowed us to express ourselves in less formal ways. Plain text communicates the meaning but may not express the same feeling; for instance when someone says ‘Thanks’, it is pretty clear what they are trying to say; but when someone says ‘Thanks 😇 ❤️’, it adds a sense of gratitude that was earlier missing.

Evolution of emojis

I was curious to find out more about the history of emojis. The word ‘emoji’ can be translated to ‘image character’. It is interesting to note that emojis first appeared on Japanese mobile phones in the late ’90s and were invented by Japanese artist Shigetaka Kurita. Kurita worked as an interface designer for Japan’s then main mobile carrier, DOCOMO where he devoted his time towards the development of an interface to convey information using characters and icons: for example, using ‘☔️’ to represent a rainy day.

But things didn’t go so well with DOCOMO, and to be honest they were a little messy, because if you sent an emoji to someone using a different device, there was no guarantee they’d see it. Think of it like someone sent you a white heart emoji on WhatsApp, and because you haven’t upgraded the app you just see a question mark in a box, like this:

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Whatsapp

Just like all products, this one needed a process too. Thankfully, Google jumped in and implemented code points to ensure uniformity when emojis were sent across different devices. Today, The Unicode Consortium, a non-profit organization is tasked with setting the global standard for the icons and emojis.

Well, to sum it up — emojis have become the new digital language for millennials, baby boomers, and everyone in between; crossing boundaries of region, culture, and language.

Emojis for celebration

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Celebration 30.01.2020: When we received our first external investment.

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Celebration B A hundred ways of saying ‘Well done’.

Emojis to introduce new folks

Our Human Resources team makes sure every new person joining the company gets the right introduction.

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Introduce

Emojis to express urgency

Few months ago, I wanted to check on the status of an important task that was critical to our business with my CTO. Rather than sending an email, or even dropping a message on Slack, I decided to just send a couple of emojis, a desperate attempt to get his attention and be creative at the same time.

I received a response, a positive one actually. Have a look:

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Urgency When are we getting it done?

Emojis for announcements

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Announcements Does it need a caption?

And sometimes just for the extra direction, to get someone’s attention:

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Announcements B

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Announcements C

Emojis in our products

Emojis have made their way into CloudCover’s products as well. Our product Strato (application reliability monitoring service) lets you condense an entire dashboard into a status light. These status lights can be represented with relevant emojis, for example, we use 😀 to show ‘healthy’ status and 🤬 for ‘danger’ status.

In Strato’s dashboard, we have also used emojis as an add-on, for example 💰 to showcase ‘Cloud Spend’.

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Products

Custom emojis

They say less is more, but that’s not the case with emojis. For us, emojis are the new digital form of communication, and not just an embellishment or add-on to whatever we’re trying to convey. In CloudCover’s Slack, we have 117 custom emojis!

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Custom

Emojis in customer decks? Why not.

The custom emojis made by our team don’t just sit in our Slack. We often use emojis in our decks that are presented internally, as well as externally to our stakeholders and customers.

Are these 👇🏽 emojis describing the interests and personalities of our founders?

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Decks

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Decks B Because strategy can be intimidating.

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Decks C

My Favourites

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Favourites From the default emoji set.

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Favourites B From CloudCover’s custom emoji set.

But there are times when emojis are not enough.

Emojis Speak Louder Than Words - Bye