In the previous three blog posts, we’ve explored many aspects of the Monogram, including its ancient history, its Victorian popularity and its definition. Today, we talk about the modern monogram, its meaning and uses. What does the monogram say about ourselves and our culture? Why do we use it?
Monogram as brand
In modern American culture, one of the most prominent uses of the monogram is to mark the corporate brand. Companies spend millions of dollars designing and promoting their company names. They often reach for the monogram to create a compelling identity marker in the public sphere. Think: Louis Vuitton (LV) and Coco Chanel (CC), General Electric (GE), CNN, HP, NBA, and on and on. Many of these brands are household names. We consumers instantly identify companies by two or three letters and their unique typographical or design treatments. That’s a monogram at its most powerful. Corporations wield monograms like royalty of yore, using it as a mark of trust, authenticity and quality.
Monogram as indulgence
One of the most powerful historical meanings of the monogram that still persists today is a mark of royalty and celebrity. When we monogram our sheets or a wine glass, we think of ourselves as indulging in a taste of luxury. Monograms are a treat, especially when they are embossed in beautiful paper or engraved into a beautiful wood picture frame or embroidered on a gorgeous piece of linen. When we can afford to, we reach for this small sign of sophistication and good taste. When we decide to purchase personalized stationery rather than plain, we are taking that step to rise out of the mundane. We want to feel special and unique.
Modern monogram as touchstone
Finally, in our modern day culture that is digitized, easily duplicated, complicated and busy, we crave touchstones to simpler times. In this way, monograms have a conversation with the past, as well as the present. Social media reproduces a million copies in an instant. But a monogram is a mark of hand-crafted tradition. Typographical experts create a monogram. And craftspeople apply it. We emboss and embroider it. We engrave it.
In defiance of email or texting, we send a monogrammed note to thank our friends and family. We beat back the impersonal forces in our lives when we lay our heads on the embroidered pillow cases our Great Aunt Margie made for her wedding trousseau. We replicate that hand-made, bespoke quality when we give a new bride and groom a monogrammed, engraved set of wine glasses.
With so many lovely designs and practical uses, the modern monogram is here to stay.
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