Whatsapp new Emoji and lessons for CX personalisation


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A message from a friend on Whatsapp went thus: “Random question but which hand of Emoji suits me best?” The response she received was this: “You need an in between.”

About two weeks ago, I noticed that hand related Emoji’s on Whatsapp like thumbs up, high five and fist pump have all been redesigned to reflect different shades of skin. The interesting point is that you are allowed to choose which you think best represents you. This subtle but significant change made by Whatsapp got me thinking about the power of personalisation.

Carolyn Blunt wrote a good piece on delivering personalised customer experience. In this post, she opined this: “If you want to deliver a personalised customer service you need to know who your customers are and what is important to them.”

I came across an interesting piece from Rick Segel on the four types of customers. In this article he classified customers around these four categories:

The Director: This personality type is attributed with very demanding people. These are persons that want things their way and do not believe there is any word called compromise. They believe in ‘big-talk’ and are best matched with well detailed, factual and precise experiences.

The Analyst: This is an analytical individual who is data or number driven. To these individuals, everyone could lie but not the numbers. Facts, figures, product description and industry research are bearers of good news. The appropriate way to market to these persons is by providing fact or a data-driven campaign.

The Relater: This third group are individuals with higher group affinity index. To simply put, they feel a lot better when attributed to a group and always tend to use the word ‘my’ a lot of the times. Rick advises the best way to serve this type of customers is by seeking their opinion towards a product launch or store layout. They always yearn for that sense of belonging.

The Socializer: This group is made up of extroverted individuals with a strong desire to interact with others. They are outgoing and like to make new friends. Rick expresses that the best way to engage with the socializer is by using compliments liberally and making the shopping experience fun.

The above gives a bit of a context to the different personality types and it is quite pertinent to generate some insights from personalised marketing and CX.

Personalisation insights from Whatsapp redesigned Emoji

1) The Inbetweeners syndrome: There is a movie called Inbetweeners with a storyline that revolves around four teenage friends who were wandering between the cool crowd and the nerds. Companies will always have customers that want the in-between in products, service or campaign. With these customers, the product could be perceived as too bright, too dark, too spicy or bland. Brands need to have a contingency plan where these customers are given a choice to add some brightness or tan to the Emoji, product or service.

2) The Decluttering exercise: I have consistently used a particular shade of Emoji since the redesign. Whatsapp have realised my choice of Emoji and have removed the other options from my view, thus, eliminating any element of confusion as to what Emoji I used the last time. In marketing, customers require you to declutter the experience. If the historical or buying data indicates that a particular customer loves a specific design or colour of a product. Whilst it is wise to present them with the options, it is better to highlight or magnify that which they’ve been used to buying in the past. This makes it less cluttering and easier for a buying decision to be made.

3) Across all borders: Whatsapp redesigned the shades for all relevant Emoji’s. This change was not limited to just ‘thumbs up’ or ‘fist pump’ but across all relevant icons. In the customer journey, personalisation should not be restricted to online or retail but should be a strategy that is extended across all marketing channels.

In the words of Margaret Mead: “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” It is important to remember that all your customers are unique and deserve distinct and well-tailored experiences.

Dateme Tamuno
Dateme Tamuno (Tubotamuno) is currently working as part of the SEO and PPC delivery team for UK based digital agency, Cariad Marketing. He has also completed a book on user-generated content marketing.


  1. It is quite a psychological analysis of whatsapp emojis, let me ask that do we really need that much seriousness for emoji icons or just let them be fun.

  2. Hi Kenneth,

    Thanks for your comment. Emoji’s are basically designed for fun. But one could draw insights from simple or deep objects.



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