Cube vs. Corner: Are emojis appropriate to use in business?

employee employer relationshipCube vs. Corner is a series that explores a different workplace topics where Devan and Brad respond with their unfiltered, honest thoughts from their side of the office: the employee and the boss.

Do you use emojis? Most of us probably have when texting, or at least been the recipient of them before. Have you ever used them in business communication? In this CvC, Brad and I talk about whether or not it is appropriate to use emojis in business.

using emojis in business


Did you know that in OSX Mavericks you can get an emoji keyboard right in the OS? emoji 1 You just press Command – Control – Space and a little emoji selection panel shows up. So easy!Emoji 2

This is so great. emoji 3 I mean I LOVE emoji, and I know you do too. You should tell your mom about this — she will LOVE it. emoji 4



Haha oh my goodness.  Are we really doing this?

Back story — Brad knows that I complain a lot about my mother overusing emoji’s/emoticons. I have several other friends whose parent’s do the same thing. What takes me or any of my friends just one or two emoji’s to express, takes my mother about eight. (Why did I convince her to get an iPhone…) I mentioned this problem to Brad one day to try and get some insight; but it turns out Brad also suffers from the same disease…Excessive Emoji Usage.

Hey, I’m a fan of smileys. I use them in business communication, but I wonder if this is a good larger question to ask —

Are emoji’s and/or smiley faces acceptable in all business communication?

I’ve heard arguments from some folks that don’t believe they are acceptable in any situation or communication (with leads, clients, colleagues, etc). What are your thoughts? What’s the consensus in your generation?



“Disease”? Really. Aren’t we overstating this a bit?emoji 5

But back to your question. Do emoji have a place in business communications? I guess it depends, right? emoji 6

I wouldn’t use them in a proposal, or anytime I want to be taken seriously. But in an email to a co-worker — sure. I might use them if I’m sending congratulations emoji 7 even to a customer!

Hey, emoji were invented for a reason! Email (or any plain text) can be boring; and it doesn’t do a good job conveying emotional context — we’ve all learned that the hard way. And honestly, I’m not so sure emoji translate emotion well either. But they sure beat plain text, right?

I find it interesting that it’s the younger people emoji 8 who think it’s a “problem”, and the more mature, experienced people emoji 9 who use emojis with reckless abandon. Why do you think that is?



Emojis are kind of like Facebook. Facebook was cool and great until all of our moms and relatives started getting on it… and writing all over our walls and commenting on every picture. Now studies keep showing how teens and tweens are leaving Facebook because it’s not cool anymore. It’s become saturated with all the “old folks.” 😛



Put me down as “not cool” then. I think they’re fun! emoji 10


Your turn:

Do you think it’s appropriate to use emojis in business communication?

Photo credit: Leyram Odacrem 

Devan Perine

Devan Perine works with small business owners on their marketing and multimedia efforts. She's passionate about helping businesses build their presence online, and giving Gen Y a voice in the workplace. When she's not working, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen, and play with her band around Chicago. She loves to chat! Give her a shout on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.


  1. I think it’s Ok, if it’s a co-worker or employee and you are telling them they did a good job. If there is any criticism in the email No. No, for all communication address to those outside of your business or organization.

    • Clarence;

      If I know someone well outside my organization I might use a 🙂

    • Clarence — Great point about avoiding them with criticism.

      I have a question for you — How do you feel when you someone responds to you with smileys or other emoticons? Does it bother you when you get them from someone you maybe don’t know as well/outside your organization?

      • Devan, great question. I worked IT in the banking industry for awhile. Emojis were so wide spread, I got so use to seeing them, that I did not acknowledging their existence in the email. Sometime I can block out characters that don’t belong or seem out of context.

  2. With tone being the biggest challenge in the world of email communique, a well placed emoji can really solidify just how irritated or pleased you really are. I do agree with Brad, I need to know someone pretty well to throw them a winky smile and don’t feel they are appropriate for new client interactions or business ventures. Since I feel I know EnMast so well from the BDYB podcast, here’s a 😉 just for you!

    • Haha thanks, Kim. And we gladly reply back with a big smiley! 😀 So glad you’re a fan of the show, too!

    • Kim:

      You get a big =|:-o for being a fan of BDYB! Glad to see you here too! Plus you are a Bacon fan, and from my second favorite city. That’s a hat trick.

      Your point about tone is well taken. That’s the biggest challenge with email (or any text) so maybe Emoji are here to stay?

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