Rise of the Personal Emoji


Emoji have become a part of everyday life for many users of digital technology. Emoji - from the Japanese words ‘e’ –  絵, picture, and ‘moji’ –  文字,character - are small images depicting emotions, people, animals, symbols/objects and are used across many digital communications including messaging apps and social media platforms. Many large companies such as Apple, Samsung, Google, WhatsApp and Facebook have all created their own style of emoji that fall under the 'emoji' umbrella and generally share a similar bright yellow heavily stylised appearance.

Over the past few years, emoji have grown tremendously in popularity and range, and they have led to the creation of a new type of emoji: the 'personal emoji' (sometimes referred to as an avatar). Personal emojis can be created using different apps to design a virtual version of yourself by allowing you to choose things like your skin colour, hair style, eye colour, clothes and much more. As well as creating a virtual you, personal emoji apps often allow you to choose from a wide range of customised 'stickers' that feature your personal emoji in various expressions. All this functionality is geared towards providing users with the ability to be more expressive when using digital technology and more clearly communicate their feelings, meaning and personality.

Personal emojis are like a cartoon version of you; they often look cute and almost childlike sometimes, encouraging the natural tendancy in human beings to want to create and curate things. They often represent the perceived 'best side' of their creator, becoming an extension of the creator's personality or even growing into an alter-ego! Personal emojis are generally depicted in silly poses or doing something funny to show how you feel or to convey a message that simply can't be put into words easily.

Big tech companies have responded to this growing trend by incorporating emojis into their native software and messaging services to improve access and ease-of-use. There is now such a variety of stickers available that you could probably have a whole conversation using them if you wanted, and the list is always growing! In some applications, your phone camera can track your facial movements so that your personal emoji moves its face around the same way you do. By allowing the app to access your phone's camera, you can even superimpose your emoji onto your surroundings so that you could watch your emoji disco dancing on your desk or trying to do a backflip on your hand using virtual reality!

The most popular personal emoji app is currently Bitmoji. The Bitmoji app lets you create a completely personalised character - from hairstyle and outfit down to eyebrow shape and facial hair. Bitmoji are especially popular on Snapchat - a photo-based social media platform - where they have been integrated into the app so that you can easily add your avatar straight into chats or stick them onto your photographs and videos.

Apple noticed how popular this was becoming and created its own emoji platform called Memoji for the iPhone X range of phones and the iPad Pro. Apple have steered their version towards a 3D style and added new functionality, such as the ability to use your front-facing camera to capture your facial expressions in real time so you can record your Memoji mimicking you! For example, if you were to frown, your Memoji would frown, and if you stuck your tongue out, so would your virtual self. This provides a fun way to express yourself in an even more personal way, which wouldn't be possible in a static emoji. Of course, if you get bored of your face, you can use something else... like a monkey, robot or alien face!

Personal emojis are an ideal way to send the perfect witty reply that sometimes can’t easily be communicated through words or that you may not otherwise have thought of. At 360, we all have our own Bitmoji avatars that we use to send eachother personalised stickers throughout the day - whether it's to show our need for a cup of tea or to celebrate it being Friday!


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