On the first day of January 1972, the popular French newspaper France Soir began printing a small logo next to its news stories as an indicator to denote positive and happy news. It gave readers a head-start to finding the right feature articles to brighten each morning and start the day with a smile. It is a simple notion based on a bright yellow cartoon depiction of a smiley face, which over four decades transformed into a phenomena.
In the 40 years since journalist Franklin Loufrani first registered this modest trademark, Smiley® has evolved into a universally recognized symbol of peace, love, and happiness--a symbol thats been adopted by some of the most popular cultural movements, brands and organizations of the 20th century.
Over these decades, Smiley has hung out with the hippies, been embraced by house music, and been adopted by grunge rockers. To think this musical revolution all came prior to 1997, when Smiley returned to the forefront of yet another global phenomena--the internet. After creating the emoticons, which to this day remain the unique form of pictorial punctuation and emotional expression used by millions of us when communicating electronically, the Smiley legacy was forever etched in over a billion citizens worldwide who communicate to each other daily via email, SMS and social messaging.
Smiley has transformed from a logo into an icon; it is a philosophical statement and a successful lifestyle brand developed across music, fashion, art, media and entertainment. Yet in the midst of so much activity and change, that happy yellow face has remained the same and forever true to its core values and heritage.
Smileys continuing popularity may well stem from its ability to touch us all on a pure level that existed long before the divisions of language, nationality, race, creed or background. Maybe its because Smiley has developed beyond an icon to become the symbol of a philosophy, the badge that represents an attitude to life that forever stays optimistic, seizes the good times, tackles the bad times, and enjoys life in the face of both. Or maybe its because Smiley is still actively doing what it's always done--reminding us that somewhere in the world theres always a reason to smile.