Nicolas Loufrani: The Influence of the Smiley Brand

The Smiley Company CEO Nicolas Loufrani is the son of renowned French journalist and smiley face owner and creator Franklin Loufrani. This article will look at the evolution of Smiley over the years as the emblem of various cultural movements, as well as exploring the icon’s early beginnings and trademark protections.

Franklin Loufrani came up with the iconic logo recognised all over the world today as ‘Smiley’ as part of a feel-good news campaign featured on the cover of the French publication France Soir. Launched as part of the ‘Take the Time to Smile’ campaign, the Smiley logo quickly gained traction, fulfilling an untapped need for more positivity among readers.

The ‘Take the Time to Smile’ campaign entertained readers with light-hearted, fun stories, providing a welcome distraction from the bleak and sombre mood of the 1970s, towards the end of the Vietnam War. This simple uplifting logo has remained relevant through various movements, from free love to the digital revolution.

For more than 50 years, the Smiley Company has been influencing creative industries. Thanks to the unique creative vision and business acumen of smiley face creator Franklin Loufrani, Smiley is a globally protected piece of intellectual property. In addition, the Smiley Company has established itself as an internationally recognised lifestyle and consumer products company. Since 1972, it has established a unique new business model centring around building creative partnerships with third-party manufacturers and retailers. The Smiley brand operates in almost 150 countries today.

The company’s extremely successful business model has drawn comparisons with Peter Drucker’s theory that companies can operate with a relatively small team of senior management, with outsourcing and partnerships representing a major component in bringing products to market. Isabel Wu cited the Smiley Company as a real-world example of Peter Drucker’s business theory in her book, The Michelangelo Project: Making It in the Digital Century Workforce.

Today, the Smiley Company’s vast library of images, concepts and designs are used by businesses all over the world to develop and manufacture products. The Smiley Company’s founders are business and culture innovators who pioneered the concept of marketing happiness and emotional intelligence, as well as making bold steps in the licensing of lifestyle intellectual properties, digital marketing, fashion marketing through music, and digital communication and language. The Smiley Company has also been proud to partner with numerous game-changing organisations in the charity sector through its non-profit community interest company, the Smiley Movement.

Having endured for half a century, the Smiley Company’s spirit of creativity and perseverance has inspired generations, with Smiley hailed as the symbol of various movements. In addition to its deep commitment to protecting the Smiley brand, the Smiley Company is also committed to protecting retail partners, licensees and consumers against counterfeits. As the holder of a large global trademark portfolio, the company retains ownership of the Smiley Original Logo, as well as the Smiley name.

The Smiley Original Logo trademark was registered in France in 1971 and subsequently registered in most other countries worldwide. In 1997, the Smiley Company began creating various new reiterations of the Smiley logo for its products and for use as stickers and gif icons in the digital world. The company was the first to recognise the potential of graphics to replace ASCII emoticons made of punctuation, anticipating and claiming that these graphics would become a universal language. The Smiley Company was the first organisation to categorise these graphics into groups, such as emotions, characters, celebrations, foods, weather, sport and more in order to facilitate online communication.

By 2004, Nicolas Loufrani and the Smiley Company had developed more than 3,000 icons, with its art direction evolving considerably in style over the years. Today, SmileyWorld Ltd, a Smiley Company subsidiary, owns copyright registrations for tens of thousands of icons, including numerous variations of the Smiley Original Logo.

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