In the beginning there was happiness...
Smiley, the happiest brand ever, was founded by Franklin Loufrani in 1971 through a newspaper promotion to make people happy. By highlighting all good news stories with a Smiley logo, readers could identify happy content instantly, generating positive feelings and allowing people to see the bright side of life throughout any day.
Smiley quickly spread across the world crossing political, social and economic boundaries. In a very short time Smiley became the most recognizable icon in the world and remains so to this day.
How a Brand was Born
The 1980s saw the birth of the house music movement and the smiley logo was once again used to represent this new musically pioneering time, allowing people a means of escape during enduring politically repressed time; no more so than in the UK. Acid house and rave fans used the yellow smiley face symbol as an emblem of the lifestyle behind the music. Smiley could be seen on promotional party flyers, posters, bootlegs and party-goers t-shirts. Heavily linked with the famous Hacienda nightclub in Manchester (home to the acid house movement, DJs and musical artists during this period), some to this day still consider Smiley a sacred symbol of this liberating time.
How old is smiley?
The first human representation of the Smiley logo comes from France in the form of a stone which is currently being exhibited at the museum of Natural Sciences in Nimes. The stone, itself found in a cave in Nimes, goes back to the Neolithic era (2500 BC) and is a perfectly round pebble with two round eyes and a mouth shaped as an arch of a circle.
Happy Faces have been used in a variety of ways across music, media and entertainment prior to the creation of the iconic Smiley brand we know today ; such as the 1948 Ingmar Bergman flick, ‘Port of Call’ and later in 1953 within an advertising campaign for the movie Lili with Leslie Caron – media communicators have always understood the power behind a simple happy face.
In 1960, a New York Radio Network (WMCA) created a major promotional campaign which significantly influenced the US East Coast music scene.
(The young Mick Jagger wearing the Good guy WMCA Jumper.)
Three years later, the State Mutual Life Insurance Company issued a smiley badge as a part of a promotional campaign.
Imitation is the sincerest of flattery. As with any iconic trend or movement; there are always people or groups which claim to be the sole creator and divine inspiration. One most notable example of this was that claim in the early 60's that a Massachusetts based designer created the Smiley – an impossible feat given the history of the 'happy face' already in existence. However, it is more than likely that he was the first to sell the infamous Smile badge.
In fact it was only in 1988 that Franklin Loufrani started trademarking the name "Smiley". Like the infamous Lacoste crocodile, technology giant Apple and Adidas’s three stripes; Smiley has always taken pride in the knowledge that through forty-years of extensive development, investment and passionate creativity; a truly special brand with history was born behind it's iconic logo – the first and only to attempt and achieve this.
A music Revolution
The Smiley brand, began to reach global recognition as an 'iconic' logo with the rise of modernity, contemporary society and movements firmly establishing its heritage and identity in 'Pop' culture. Through related shared beliefs and trends reflecting on popular social and design movements as well as musical evolutions since the early 1970s; Smiley was organically creating its own philosophy and meaning to people. During this decade the original smiley logo was used to represent the 'summer of love' emerging during the time of the infamous Woodstock festival. Used as the symbol of peace and love, it offered people a sense of freedom and happiness during a difficult time when the world was facing both political and economic uncertainly.
In the 1990s the original smiley logo was omnipresent during the explosion of grunge rock music when it was used by notorious Seattle rockers Nirvana as a symbol of self-expression and anti-establishment against the corporate world.
Pop culture, music and youth movements have always used the smiley logo as a symbol of expression. It came as no surprise that as people lent more to technology to communicate with one another following the creation of the internet, that smiley was there from the start. The emoticons (a facial expression pictorially represented by
punctuation and letters, usually to express a writer's mood) where a revolutionary way to communicate expression visually where text remained limited..
Changing the world with technology
The first emoticon came in the form of a sideways image of Smiley :) and was used on email for the first time by computer scientist Scott Fahlman in 1982 to enhance his text. As a result a whole dictionary of hundreds of emoticons made of punctuation started to spread across the world with some as complicated as %%%/ to mean Queen!
In 1997, Nicolas Loufrani (the son of Franklin Loufrani founder of the original smiley logo) decided to explore this concept and started to create a dictionary of icons based on Smiley to replace 'text emoticons' made solely of fonts. Nicolas began to develop expressive characters which helped to promote the universal language of the 'emoticon'.
The first Smiley icons appeared online in GIF format in July, 1997. In 2001 the first Smiley dictionary was placed online, associating 1000 Smiley icons to emoticons.
In 2002 the first contract to display icons on mobile phones was signed by companies such as leading telecommunications giants Nokia, Motorola & Samsung.
As the growth showed no sign of stopping, the Smiley concept became a phenomenon in the Online world, helping people to express their emotions in instant messaging and social network applications.
There are now over 2000 different icons in this dictionary with more being added every day.
Smileyworld is now home to extensive collections featuring hundreds of different products which promote a simple expressive message. We encourage everyone to express their thoughts and ideas: "Express Yourself" as we call it.
Smiley is more than an icon, brand and lifestyle; it's a spirit and a philosophy and exists to remind people of how powerful a smile is and how much a simple smiley can change both your life and the lives of others around you.