AUSTIN, TX: Dunkin' Donuts, the quick-service chain, is leveraging emojis and stickers to become part of mobile messaging conversations where its brand can play a relevant role.

Nick Dunham, Director of Media at Dunkin' Donuts, discussed this subject at the 2017 South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference in Austin, Texas.

And he suggested its stickers and emoji keyboard – which feature symbols ranging from cups of coffee to baked goods – could serve a useful purpose for brand fans, who are often "ritual driven" and "on-the-go".

"We know they talk in 'Dunkin'-ese' anyway, so it was just a very logical thing to let people express their love for Dunkin' in a different form," he said. (For more details, read WARC's exclusive report: Dunkin' Donuts takes a bite out of mobile messaging.)

By infusing users' mobile messages with a unique flavour, Dunkin' is also making sure its brand becomes a tangible part of their interactions.

"We're a social brand, too. So it's just not about advertising above-the-line messages, but how are we connecting with our customers?" said Dunham. "And we're always thinking about: How are we providing value, not just advertising?"

In achieving this goal, its emojis and stickers feature a mix of "evergreen" content, plus event-specific offerings rolled out at pertinent dates in the calendar.

"If you're thinking about a pick-me-up or texting a friend to meet you for a cup of coffee, we want to be there at that moment. Those moments happen every day," said Dunham,

On National Doughnut Day last week, however, Dunkin' refreshed its emojis and stickers for Apple's iMessage app so representations of this tasty treat were the only symbols on offer.

"There are tent-poles, certain areas of focus that are happening in-store – like Valentine's Day or National Coffee Day or National Doughnut Day – where we want to make sure things are a little bit more customised, so people actually have tools to talk about us while they're in-store," Dunham told the SXSW assembly.

"We're not just posting out, 'It's Valentine's Day; come share a doughnut with your loved one.' It's more about how creative can we be making content tools to actually express that it's Valentine's Day?"

Data sourced from WARC