The History of Smiley

For over 40 years Smiley has shaped the way we share happiness and express ourselves through iconic and creative products found all over the world. Smiley is a truly unlimited brand, evergreen and unique in that it has influenced musical generations, social movements, popular culture and the pursuits of happiness. Over four decades on, Smiley has become more than just an icon, a brand and a lifestyle: it is now a spirit and a philosophy, reminding people just how powerful a smile can be.

  • The first Happy Face discovered

    The first record of a Happy Face is found in France on a stone in a cave in Nîmes.

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    Happy Faces appears on film poster

    Happy Faces feature on the poster artwork for Academy Award winning film Lili.

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    Early Happy Face promotions

    Happy Face sweatshirt worn by iconic rock star Mick Jagger in 1964 as part of a promotion on radio station WMCA which launched during 1960 in the USA. In 1963, the State Mutual Life Insurance Company also uses The Smile badge as a part of a promotional campaign.

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    Smiley is born

    On Saturday 1st January 1972, Smiley was born when French newspaper France Soir prints journalist Franklin Loufrani’s happiness promotion, in which he uses the Smiley logo to highlight good news stories. Loufrani trademarks Smiley and starts a brand that produces a range of Smiley merchandise and also licenses it for promotional use.

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    Smiley becomes icon of electronic dance music

    Smiley begins to be globally recognised as an icon with the brand establishing its identity in 'Pop' culture and becoming the universal symbol of electronic dance music culture.

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    Emoticons are born

    In 1997, Nicolas Loufrani starts to create icons based on Smiley to replace 'text emoticons' made solely of punctuation marks and is responsible for creating the world’s first graphical emoticons and 3D Smileys. From these Loufrani published an online dictionary of emoticons which translated against the pre existing emoticons made of punctuation marks.

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    Smiley becomes a household name

    Smiley has 97% recognition as a symbol for positivity and happiness across the world, influencing fashion and music trends the world over and gaining huge exposure through its new Millenium campaign, as well as placement in cult DC Comics movie Watchmen.

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    Smiley becomes a global phenomena

    The happiness revolution becomes a major phenomena in music, entertainment, fashion & advertising. Smiley grows 4.2 million fans on social media & billions of emoticons are sent each day. Smiley collaborates with the world’s most influential fashion designers & features, as pictured left, in London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. 


Welcome to the directory of Smiley emoticons. As you can see, we have loads of great emoticons to choose from. You’ll find an incredible selection of familiar Smiley faces, as well as thousands of Smileys you might never have seen before that are all available to you for FREE. Now you can easily express yourself to your friends when you are happy, sad, in love, grumpy (or experiencing just about any emotion) and share it on Facebook, Instagram, via email, or any instant messaging app. Just choose the emoticon that best suits your mood and either drag and drop them onto your desktop, or save them onto your phone to send!

Download free emoticons


Download wallpapers


Smiley emoticon masterclass

Smiley Masterclass


Shop men


Shop women


Shop kids


Shop home decor

home decor

Shop accessories


Shop gifts



Learn more about the last four decades of Smiley’s iconic relationship with music and the variety of influential and cutting edge music genres associated with Smiley. This is a place to come and enjoy some of the amazing content that continues to keep the brand at the forefront of all these music scenes and sub-cultures.

Smiley & music

our music history

Smiley DJs


Listen to Smiley music



Spread some happiness and positivity into your day and enjoy a wide variety of fun, inspirational and uplifting content that you can share with friends or simply use to help motivate you into a happy mindset. After all, our job is to make you smile.

Read Happy News stories

happy news

Get the happiest icons

happy icons

How happy are you?

happiness test


Read the latest news stories from the Smiley blog.

Smiley pop-up store in Hong Kong

Pantone Universe X Smiley at colette

Smiley culture clash launch party