Emoji and emoticon usage shows school spirit

Higher ed institutions offer customized sets of emojis featuring school logos and mascots

As The Emoji Movie hits theater screens this summer, a new wave of college-themed emojis is arriving on smartphone screens.

Higher ed institutions—capitalizing on the popularity of the digital pictographs—now offer customized sets of emojis featuring school logos, mascots and other themed graphics, such as smiling or winking faces.

The emojis allow students, graduates, student affairs and alumni relations staff to infuse texts and social media messages with college spirit. Communication around sporting events, holidays, commencement and fundraising can be embellished with the images.

Branded emojis can be downloaded from most app sources, usually for free or minimal cost, ranging from $.99 to $3.99 for a set. Institutions such as Auburn, Columbia and Ohio State have partnered with third-party companies to release custom sets.

The YourMoji app offers emojis for more than two dozen colleges, including Purdue, Notre Dame and Indiana University.

“If colleges want to be able to communicate with students and young alums, they need to be able to talk their language, and emojis are absolutely unfolding as part of that,” says Dana Peterson, vice president of Alumni Monitor, which tracks best outreach practices.

Colleges and universities should promote their suite of emojis via press releases and social media—and not take lightly the need for strategy. Although emojis are generally a fun form of communication, their development needs to be taken seriously, Peterson says.

“If administrators dabble in it and don’t fully know what they’re doing, they could end up with a few bloopers out there.”

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