IKEA Speaks the Language of Emoticons

February 12, 2015
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If it takes 20 languages to reach 80 per cent of the World’s population then it is readily apparent that language is a pretty useful but complex beast for business and humanity alike – to understate it ever so slightly.

If it takes 20 languages to reach 80 per cent of the World’s population then it is readily apparent that language is a pretty useful but complex beast for business and humanity alike – to understate it ever so slightly.

So how can business and humanity cut through to communicate better, faster and across boundaries? One such brand has identified the rise and rise in the use of small images used in online communications as an opportunity to break down some of those barriers. Love ‘em or loathe them, Emoticons have gone more viral than a video of a kitten in roller-skates or news of Jon Stewart’s imminent departure from The Daily Show *colon open bracket*. Emoticons are all part of the rich tapestry and diachronic adjustments language winds its way through and will continue to do so forever and ever.

Emoticons are an everyday language, maybe not for some but certainly branching out beyond Millennials –  the proliferation of studies; news articles, research and not-so research (users of Emoticons get more sex, apparently) is indicative of the staying power the visual short-form possesses.

The Hieroglyphs of our time

From crude drawings by cavemen on prehistoric walls to the use of images and symbols found in ancient Egyptian texts, visual language has always been there or thereabouts but the peer-to-peer revolution in technology has reinvigorated the winky face or the tongue protruding ‘colon’ and ‘P’ combo.

Facebook owned WhatsApp is one of the main vehicles of Emoticon exchange and so it was inevitable that a brand would capitalize on this opportunity sooner or later. Enter stage right, IKEA and their newly released IKEA Emoticon set – an App available on iPhone and Android – for those that have an urgent need to share a small illustration of an Alan/Hex Key or a bowl full of delicious Swedish meatballs, not to mention a graphic image representing the iconic blue carrier bag or POÄNG single chair.

In the world of mobile design we came through the age of skeuomorphism and glided smoothly through flat-design principles until we settled (for now) on material design. Have IKEA heralded the dawn of flat-packed material design with their new App?

Will you be using IKEA Emoticons in your everyday communications or are you happy sticking with actual words?


I like my Swedish Meatballs with a safety wink. IKEA launches Emoticons App!
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