How the secret Beetroot emojis help bring remote teams closer

5 min read
July 30, 2020

Beetroot is not the first company using emojis to instill a sense of community, belonging and fun in the everyday workflow. It would be great to see how other companies use emojis to create more love and vicinity – especially in these very “remote times.”

We use Slack for a lot of our communication, but the idea spans across technologies and works equally well on other communication platforms that allow custom emojis.

Formal introductions – the mold from which it all is cast

Before we get to the juicy emoji bit, I have to make an introduction. When companies grow larger (we would know – we’ve climbed upwards 500 skilled tech folks at this point), there’s a risk of lost identity. And lost identity means lost purpose. Beetroot’s timeless mascot “Beety” has been with us since the beginning, and remains a secure harbor in which all beets, the people working with Beetroot, can seek refuge when starting to feel a bit disconnected.

These days, Beety isn’t scared to wear a tie. Anything goes, 

as long as it comes from the heart.

The staple emojis

Most of our emojis have a purpose, deeply embedded in the soul of the company. We obviously use the standard array of happy  , grumpy  , laugh-cry , cry-cry  , the perpetual skeptic , the loving  , and the starstruck    beets. But these are not the important ones. These are hygiene emojis that make up the bulk of use, however lack any substantial meaning beyond the expressions on their tiny beetroot faces.

The feedback encouragement emojis

Cultivating teams that are brave enough to receive and provide constructive, genuine feedback, is tough. Beetroot has run many internal workshops over the years focused on exactly that: helping people improve their feedback game. We introduced a specific set of emojis to encourage giving even tough feedback. This is, and will remain, difficult, but they are gaining some traction.

  The bowl of borsch – a delicious, Ukrainian beetroot soup. To us, making borsch is to create something beautiful and delicious together. We use it to symbolize a job well done. Congratulations!



  The thick slice of salo – a bacon-like, rich supplement to any borsch soup worth its’ name. In past times, salo was a source of life-sustaining fat, a little bit like constructive feedback. We like to use the salo as a symbol of “I think I know something that can help you improve”. Fatty feedback that helps people grow and survive in their endless struggle against entropy.



  And then there’s Bread Beety. Because, you know, we have to get this bread.

The cultural tradition emojis

Some of the most potent and profound emojis come in the form of messages that point to something very deeply embedded in the Beetroot soul. These are symbols that help us find our way even through muddy waters. They are used frequently and convey a complex, yet succinct, message to those who have been properly introduced.

   This is the BHAG Beety. The term BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) stems from a well-known strategic business framework and can be simplified as meaning “the end-goal” or, more informally in our everyday use, “this is helping us achieve our goals”. It’s a great reminder of why we do what we do, and a great way to reaffirm each other, especially when treading the tougher parts of our mission.

  This is our arch-nemesis, the Corporate Onion. Look at him, all stuck-up and with a very specific tie. To us, corporate bureaucracy is like an onion. Tons of layers, and they all make you want to cry. We use this emoji to remind ourselves and others when things become a bit needlessly hierarchical or bureaucratic. We believe in personal responsibility, trust and staying lean. Hard things to combine with this yellow antagonist.

  Teal Beety was originally conceived in an effort to communicate the opposite of Corporate Onion. The inspiring book Reinventing Organizations got us hooked on the teal color, where it symbolizes a decentralized, freedom-oriented organization with a continuously evolving purpose. Although we don’t implement the full teachings of the book, we still consider tealness a breath of fresh air – a hint of what the future will bring.

  The red slippers (tapochki) symbolize coming home. The Beetroot offices have housed these red (and blue) slippers for years. We now use them as a symbolic family hug to communicate safety and belonging. Or if we just need to say “slippers”.

  The care beety. Because, as a sustainability-oriented organization, we always need to look out for each other. Get a cup of hot beverage, a warm blanket, and take care of your well-being!

  Tough commando. Sending a reminder to the team when they forgot something, pushing an agenda forcefully forward – all great uses of tough commando Beety.

  Beety Yoda reminds us that we need to fight the good fight. In particular used by one of our co-founders when he comes to the rescue, figuring out how to fix a legacy tech issue.

Add meaning to the mix

I’m not aware of many companies that have eluded the playful nature of having their own emojis, but you should consider infusing your communication with a hint of purpose. Beyond the report-creating essentials.

Most of our emojis and there are indeed countless more, were made by our amazing in-house illustrator who continually delivers heart-warming visuals to manifest our brand.

Personally, I’ve only made like 2-3 of them. The sunglasses mustache beet was my first, and remains my unquestioned, opus magnum:

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