Nicolas Loufrani: The History Of The Smiley

Nicolas Loufrani: The History Of The Smiley

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07.02.2024

Nicolas Loufrani is the son of Franklin Loufrani, the French journalist who created the Smiley logo in 1972, launching an iconic trademark internationally recognized today as the most famous brand promoting optimism and positivity.

Smiley Face owner Franklin Loufrani launched the logo as part of a ‘feel-good’ news campaign published by France Soir and other publications. He created the trademark in response to negative headlines regarding political and social unrest. Over the years, the Smiley Company has established itself as one of the world’s largest licensing companies.

The smiley face creator’s simple graphic has remained relevant throughout 50 years of cultural movements, from free love to the rave generation to the digital revolution. Franklin Loufrani registered his trademark in more than 100 countries.

In 1989, Franklin Loufrani began applying for the trademark to the Smiley brand name. He had the foresight to buy back numerous trademarks from third parties who were using the naming in a different context, and in this way was able to build a brand name to identify his logo.

Nicolas Loufrani launched the world’s first graphical emoticons, registered at the US Copyright Office in 1997 and subsequently released on the internet in 1998. Loufrani’s goal was to create a universal language that could be understood by everyone, irrespective of their native language.

Although he may not be considered the emoji owner or creator, in an interview with Vice in 2017, Nicolas Loufrani said that smileys had inspired emojis and that their usage had snowballed since 2010 – when Unicode started to include them in its protocol for all of its members, including major tech manufacturers and networks.

Since Franklin Loufrani registered his trademark, Smiley has become a globally recognized brand and marketing phenomenon. The Smiley Company has collaborated with numerous multinational lifestyle and fashion brands, including Loewe, Fendi, Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, and Tommy Hilfiger, and major global brands like Samsung, Nestle, and Mondelez.

At the dawn of the 21st century, in keeping with the commencement of a new digital age, the Smiley Company launched a campaign to counter public concern over Y2K. The campaign – with three smiley logos instead of the three zeros in 2000 and the slogan ‘Have a nice millennium’ – was created in response to a slew of stories published by the media theorizing about catastrophic consequences that might occur at the turn of the millennium, creating widespread panic of a global social and IT breakdown.

This was a new opportunity for the Loufrani family to show their commitment to focusing on positivity and trumping the constant negative bias of the mass media.

Smiley continues to influence modern culture as one of the world’s most recognizable licensed brands. The Smiley Company has collaborated on high-profile activities spanning a range of different industries, including fashion, beauty, food and beverage, homeware, and art.

The ultimate goal of Smiley is to spread positivity through smiles, making the world a kinder and happier place. Throughout the last half a century, Smiley has consistently strived to show people how to smile back at the world, encouraging people to ‘Take the Time to Smile’. After all, what is more inspiring and universal than a smile?

Founded in France in 1971 by Franklin Loufrani, the Smiley Company is based in London in the UK today, serving a global audience and generating a reported revenue of $538 million in 2022 for its licensees and retailers. The Smiley Company is led by Franklin Loufrani as founder and president and his son, Nicolas Loufrani, who serves as CEO.

Having celebrated ’50 years of Smiley’ in 2022, the Smiley Company’s defiantly optimistic energy has inspired generations for more than 50 years. Its enduring positive impact has culminated in a universally recognizable trademark representing freedom in the 1970s; defining musical subcultures in the 1980s and 1990s; and establishing itself as a vanguard of the digital revolution in the 2000s and a new visual form of communication.

Smiley continues to lead the way with its first-of-a-kind Future Positive campaign, collaborating with brands all over the world to launch sustainable products. It even has a non-profit arm, the Smiley Movement, which is the organizer of the Smiley Charity Film Awards – the biggest campaign for cause-related films in support of the charity sector.

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Tags History of the smiley face original smiley face smiley face symbol
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Ankita Tripathy loves to write about food and the Hallyu Wave in particular. During her free time, she enjoys looking at the sky or reading books while sipping a cup of hot coffee. Her favourite niches are food, music, lifestyle, travel, and Korean Pop music and drama.

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