Industry News


23 Sep - 2019

Nicolas Loufrani, CEO of The Smiley Company and creator of the world’s first 3D digital Smileys in 1997, will set out his vision for the new emoji (a Japanese word meaning pictogram) of the future at BLE 2019

Newmoji brand set to hit market, the 2 Newmoji design styles created by Loufrani include an Art and Extreme 3D design style.

Loufrani is widely credited for his significant contribution in the creation of emojis and their evolution to the global communications phenomenon they are today. He was the first person to put a Smiley on a cellphone with Alcatel in 1996 and the 23 years since no less than 6 billion emojis are sent daily on phones and messaging devices globally. Loufrani would then start to digitalize his Original Smiley into a variety of emotions in 1997 and by 1999 he had created and published The Official Smiley Dictionary a directory of 3,645 icons that he created to represent a variety of words emotions objects and animals. Loufrani would then go on to declare “The Birth Of A New Universal Language” when launching The Official Smiley Dictionary online in 2001. These first-generation Smileys would go on to spark a plethora of emoji descendants.

For the last 2 years, Loufrani and his team have been working to carve out a new creative vision for the future of emojis, which he believes will provide a modern and creative take on the format whilst driving continued revenues for retailers and licensees.

As a business, we need to have a very close understanding of the Smileys /emoji market today, we have been at the cutting edge in their evolution and innovation for over 22 years.” Says Loufrani, who adds, “In the past couple of years we have stepped up talking to consumers through a variety of focus groups and quantitative studies, as well as taking a really deep dive into what licensees and retailers want from this market today. These insights told us that the market is maturing and that some consumers are looking to see new and fresh products in the market with a greater emphasis on design. The research got me thinking that now was the time for me to come back with a new iteration of the movement for communication-based on icons. Through this market research, we have also been able to take a more targeted approach to our SmileyWorld brand, which we have been evolving over the past two years, to create a space in the market for Newmoji. In doing so we’ve focussed the Newmoji program in a way that it doesn’t compete with any of our Smiley brands. In fact it is complimenting our businesses mixed marketing strategy, helping us to tap into new countries, and developing market tiers where Smiley doesn’t already have presence in. We’ve even purposefully left yellow emoticons out of all of our Art style guides, in order to not conflict with Smiley’s already well established position in the premium market.”

Loufrani and his team conducted surveys in countries in Asia, Europe, and North America and the loud and clear message from consumers was that they are starting to place real value in product design when purchasing emoji products and that there is a major demand for a variety of real looking icons. This led the team at Smiley to develop a range of new emoji icon styles that they tested on a wide demographic of consumers.

At the beginning of developing this project, we created a selection of new icons styles that I felt would help innovate the space.” Explains Loufrani, “We started testing these on consumers, against all existing emoji styles in the market from Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, etc. We even tested them against our Smiley icons. From these insights, we were able to identify which two styles came up as the absolute favorites of certain key demographics while at the same time not creating confusion or competition with our Smiley collection in their respective segments. This approach suits the way we do business, allowing us to offer different designs for different market segments, genders, and generations and follows a similar segmentation model that has made Smiley so successful in recent years.

Our Art design style is intentionally a much more sophisticated take on what is currently going on in the market.” Says Loufrani, “This style features a hand-drawn aesthetic, combining the current trends for quality illustration and hyper-realistic art, depicting real humans captured expressing their emotions with real intensity. This design style had the most appeal to adults and style- conscious teens that we surveyed and was the most popular design through all age groups coming from the highest-income families. We believe this style lends itself best to upscale licensing partnerships, brand collaborations and directional high street retailers.

The other style we created is an Extreme 3D icon.” Adds Loufrani This is an icon style aligned closely with what kids are used to when it comes to movies and major entertainment properties like Cars, Minions or Fortnite.”

Newmoji’s Extreme 3D style delivers a more realistic extreme 3D icon, with a distinct animation that brings existing emoji icons styles to life through real human eyes and eyelids, deep mouths, eyebrows and skin texture that will enhance the expression of emotions.

Our idea was to give life to emoji faces, transforming them for the first time into the sort of characters kids love today.” Says Loufrani. “The Extreme 3D Style was by far the most popular style we tested on 3-14 years kids from both genders. Ultimately this style gives much more life to the concept, enabling us to treat boys to fun, crazy images and girls with cute ones.”

Newmoji is all set to launch at BLE, where you can find out more information about the plans for the brands roll out in early 2020.

Loufrani is keeping his plans for the new IP close to his chest for now, although he has disclosed that the project will be amplified through 20 global PR agencies and via a Newmoji app on IOS and Android, with the launch of both set to coincide with World Emoji day on July 17th, 2020.

To find out more about Newmoji visit booth B221 at BLE from 1-3rd October 2019.

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