Emojis and GIFs in brand digital communication strategies: Starbucks and Nescafé

By Anaëlle DANICAN

Today, emojis and GIFs are considered as new ways to communicate. Emojis are images, often little faces that anyone can put inside a text, an email, or any messages applications. The purpose of emojis is to showcase an emotion while bypassing other communication barriers such as local languages all around the world.1

The GIFs, or Graphic Interchange Format, are compressed, static or animated pictures that are widely used on the internet, most of the time in online promotions.

Some brands have found that the use of emojis and gifs in their digital strategies was a great way to attract millennials and to diversify the way to communicate with them.

Emojis and gifs are also a way to humanize the brands, and brands have some freedom in how they want to be perceived by having the possibility to create their own gifs and emojis.

Nescafé was one of the first brands to move to the Tumblr platform, in order to get closer to the younger customers. On the Nescafé Tumblr page, customers could share images, videos, GIFs and other coffee-related content.2

In 2015, to keep going with their digital strategy, Nescafé created an application called Nescafé Emoticons.3


(Downloaded from  source )  

The purpose of this application was to provide customers with fun and happy emojis to share with friends. In order to do that, they just had to open the application, choose the emoji they wanted to use, choose the messages application on which they would like to share the emoji and choose the recipient of the emoji.3 And that’s it.

Furthermore, in 2016, after the great success of the Nescafé Emoticons application, Nescafé has decided to launch a new social activation involving emojis, thanks to Buzzman agency. This social activation was called Emoji Morning. By using 5 emojis, followed by the hashtag #EmojiMorning and @NESCAFEfr, customers had the possibility to share on Facebook or Twitter their ideal morning, hoping to win a 2000 euros wonderful stay for two people.4


Other than Nescafé, Starbucks has also launched in 2016 an emoji Keyboard application.5


(Downloaded from source 5 )

With this emoji Keyboard application available on iPhone an Android smartphones, Starbucks has allowed its customers to customize their iMessage, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp messages with their favorite beverages (frappucino, iced tea, coffee…).5


More than using emojis, Nescafé and Starbucks have also decided to use GIFs in their digital communication strategies. Indeed, on https://giphy.com, Nescafé ES (Spain), Nescafé Adriatic and Starbucks have official pages where they upload GIFs for their customers. Moreover, on platforms like https://tenor.com/, it is very common to see customer-made gif involving their favorite brands.


Using emojis and GIFs in their digital communication strategies is thus a great way to engage with customers and co-create. Starbucks, Nescafé and McDonalds have understood that. But not Nespresso, who is not playing on this type of strategy.


1 https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2015/jan/26/rise-emoji-brand-marketing

2 https://www.nestle.com/media/news/nescafe-moves-to-tumblr








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