Smiley and the World Emoji Day


On July 17th, the world celebrated World Emoji Day. A good moment for Smiley, as the very first pictorial emotion ever drawn – and registered as a trademark, to tell the story of how its yellow smiling face contributed to the emoji revolution.

1990 was the period in which a special use of punctuation created the first emoticons. Basically 🙂 and 🙁 were the most intelligible and the only used frequently. These were the times in which Nicolas Loufrani started designing the first digital directory of a variety of emotions for his father’s brainchild Smiley. 1997 was the year in which a first set of those appeared on a cellphone, while in 2001 the first official Smiley Dictionary, compiling 393 expressions, was published in France by Marabout. Two years after, the expressions available accounted for more than 850, and the program, renamed SmileyWorld, was licensed to a number of players among which Motorola and Nokia to be featured in their phones.

In the meantime in the other side of the world, the Japanese Docomo developed the first emoji since 1999, although in a very different shape from those we know today. Emoji were in fact firstly used in 2007 by Apple on its iPhone, only for the Japanese market, then converged in Unicode, a common platform for digital images, to be used on any operating system, thus allowing the emoji revolution to ignite.

Today both programs are celebrating World Emoji Day ( born in 2014 and this year more noticeable as Sony‘s Emoji Movie is driving mainstream attention), but from different angles: Smiley is still building its brand with the care of a brand owner (and licensor), while Emoji usage out of operating systems runs mostly uncontrolled, often with the gadget perspective.

No wonder why Smiley Company wants its story being told during the event, like in this BBC interview to Nicolas Loufrani.


About Paolo Lucci

Branding and licensing specialist, Brand Jam's founder and heartful promoter.