The Smiley logo is one of the most famous logos in the world, and over the last 45 years it’s had 97% brand recognition as the symbol for positivity. Today, we speak to the CEO, Nicolas Loufrani, and designers, Tim and Rak, about the radical Smiley logo change.



smiley logo change before after


Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Nicolas. So Smiley is undergoing a huge change today! What an exciting day. Can you please tell us a bit about what’s happening?


Nicolas: Of course! It’s a very big day for Smiley and we’re very excited by the change. After 45 years of the Smiley brand logo being its iconic circular yellow face, Smiley is changing its logo to a square shape, to be applied worldwide from now on.


This is great! And why have you decided that now is the time for a Smiley logo change?


Nicolas: Well, next year marks the 45th year since Smiley first started as a newspaper promotion. It was used to highlight good news during a time when the news was pretty depressing. The Smiley was used to show readers the bright side of life through uplifting news stories, and this was really revolutionary at the time. At Smiley, we’re always innovating, always creating new Smileys, and actually since 1997 when I created the first digital, graphic emoticons, we have created over 4,000 Smileys across all sorts of actions, emotions, colours, animals and more… We’re always thinking outside of the box and innovating new designs, and we decided now is the time for a Smiley logo change. And to change it to a square is totally different and exciting – it really is outside the box!


It really is! Smiley has over 230 licensees worldwide, what does this logo change mean for them?


Nicolas: It’s a really exciting change for them, as it can expand the types of products they create! So for instance, Acrila who have made beautiful Smiley tables and chairs can now make square Smiley tables where the logo will fit perfectly into the space. Herlitz, who create lots of Smiley stationery, can use our new logo on folders and pencil cases. And of course, new licensees can look at Smiley for their existing products, such as TVs, iPads, photo frames, windows, square badges… the options are endless!


How did the idea for the change come about?


Nicolas: We have a unique design set-up at Smiley; a dedicated design studio with talented creatives, and one day I sat down with my designers and said, let’s do something different. Let’s break the mould. Our designer Tim here can explain the process in more detail…


Tim: Thanks Nicolas. When approaching this task, we knew we had to consider all the elements that make up the fabric of Smiley. This begins with positivity and creativity, but also, we wanted to show innovation going hand-in-hand with stability, and demonstrate that we’re different but reliable. After many Venn diagrams, we knew that the square shape was the one.





smiley logo change venn circle




And then we suddenly thought, why should a Venn diagram be made of circles anyway?


smiley logo change venn square brand

From there, we applied our unique yellow pantone, measured the most appropriate distance inside the shape for the Smiley face, and our new logo was born.



smiley logo change design brand new emoji emoticon

Tim seen here sketching out new options for the Smiley logo change, getting inspiration from his surroundings.



Tim and designer, Giulia, considering other options for the Smiley logo change.


smiley logo change 1971 1972 loufrani walmart original emoji emoticon

Mapping the Smiley logo change from 1972, its first publication in France Soir newspaper, to its well known Smiley, to today


Tim: Our brand designer, Rak, can go into the usage of the new logo.

Rak: Thanks Tim. In order to maintain continuity amongst Smiley licensed products, we developed the following visual identity framework:

smiley logo change rules brand guidelines 

But moving away from the design elements of the brand, and into the heart of Smiley, we strongly believe that this new logo reflects the essence of Smiley. Just as squares are seen as the building blocks of life, so too is Smiley for licensees’ products. Everyone knows the building blocks for life are about keeping positive, happy and regular in everything you do, so our new logo mirrors these key ideas for both licensees and all consumers. Squares are equal shapes, and this echoes the sense of caring equality with which Smiley approaches its licensees.

Squaring is Caring. Click To Tweet

It brought us to the new brand definition, Squaring is Caring, and we hope you agree with us that this next step in the Smiley journey will open many more equal-cornered doors and offer something that’s never been seen before.


Have any thoughts on the new logo? Let Smiley know by reaching out to them @SmileyOriginal