Now We’re Speaking the Universal Language of Emoji

By Marilyn Titone Schaefer
AVP, Communications Director

INB EmojiYou can call emojis the hieroglyphics of the 21st Century. With a simple picture, you can convey a message. For example, a smiley face is a way to indicate happiness. A thumb up says, “I like.” And a horseshoe sandwich absolutely means, “I’m from Springfield, Ill.”

While you won’t find that horseshoe sandwich emoji on the standard emoji keyboard, you can use a series of local emojis by downloading “Springfield Emojis” from your app store and adding the app to your keyboard.

Developers Tim Wallin and Tyler Smith spent the last year working on the details needed to launch their endeavor. They’ve handled everything from maneuvering around the Unicode Consortium – a nonprofit that chooses emojis across all platforms – to working with designers on images, app programming AND creating a business model.

Tim says he’s always been a creative person, and after losing a brother at a young age and watching a lot of House Hunters International, he and his wife decided to downsize their life in Springfield and head to Puerto Rico. This was a total turn-around for a guy who had just spent eight years in financial services. When in Puerto Rico, the Wallins cater to the tourists. During the off-season, they head back to Springfield. He says, “We have built a lifestyle that allows us to be creative.”

That creativity is evident in the emojis his team has developed for the app. Since the June 1 launch, they’ve expanded the initial landmarks category, kept up with current affairs in the news section, and have had fun with memes based on life in the capital city. They also have a very active Facebook community with over 2,100 followers in less than two months.

Tim says they consider themselves a local newspaper, keeping the site relevant each and every day to encourage users to check in and see what’s new. The emojis themselves simply provide local people a way to have more enjoyable communications.

While the app is free to all users, the team plans to make money by selling ad space within the app. Tyler, the company’s sales director, recently approached INB about becoming one of those advertisers. We quickly came on board because we see Springfield Emojis as chance to tell our story in a unique way. For example, when we post a new blog, we can summarize the message in an emoji and provide a link to the full post. We can share events and activities happening at our local branches. We can also highlight the things our staff does in the community and the organizations we support. With most customers using online banking services, it’s understandable that they may never see the people behind their money. We want to change. We want the community to see the value our staff provides . . . and we’re happy to get a chance to do that in a new way.

Springfield Emojis is also a chance for us to use our iconic Barnaby Bee. While Barnaby had a makeover in late 2016, he hasn’t played a starring role at the bank for a number of years. The Springfield Emojis app is the perfect place for him to take center stage. After all, who wouldn’t want to say, “You make me happy,” with a smiling bee?

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