What is a Monogram?

In a mass-produced world where almost everything has already been commoditized and homogenized, people crave personal touch more than ever in the way they are attended to.  People like to feel unique in a sea of sameness. So, if you're thinking of a gift for your loved one -- this includes you!--why not try giving a monogram or a monogrammed gift?

What exactly is a monogram?

A monogram or wenzel is a motif made by combining two or more letters to form one symbol. Monograms are often created by combining the initials of an individual or company to form a symbol or logo. Thus, we have the back-to-back letter Cs of the Coco Chanel logo, the letter V over the letter L of Louis Vitton, and on wedding invitations and decors.

What is the purpose of a monogram?

A monogram identifies the owner and displays his or her unique personality and style. It's a way of creatively expressing your individuality. When you have your initials monogrammed, you're saying to the world, "This is me, This is how I'm different, and I'm proud of it!" When you give a loved one a monogrammed gift item, you're sending them the message, "I see how unique and special you are. I celebrate you!"

How did monograms come about?

They first appeared in Greek coins, around 350BC, where the first two letters of the cities' names are joined together. Between the 11th and 16th centuries when guilds flourished in Europe, they were used by artists and artisans on paintings, sculptures, and furniture, especially when guilds enforced unauthorized participation in specific trades. From the middle of the 5th century to the 14th century in the Frankish Empire, a special type of monogram or royal cipher was used to sign a document or charter. In Christianity, the name of Jesus Christ has been used like in the "IHS" monogram, which represents the first three letters of Jesus' Greek name. In modern times, individual monograms appeared in personal stationery, luggage, clothing, and other personal possessions. In general, throughout time, monograms have been recognized as status symbols.

What is the difference between initials and a monogram?

It's in the order the letters appear.  Initials are the first letters of one's name written in the order they are read.  Traditional monograms for individuals have the first initial of one's last name placed in the center and highlighted. The first letter of the first name is placed on the left and the first letter of one's middle name is placed on the right.

For example, someone named Rachel Parker Johnson would have the initials "RPJ". In her monogram, it would appear as "RJP" with the letter J highlighted, and the monogram is artfully and tastefully presented. Traditionally, initials were used for men and monograms for women.

What is an example of a monogram?

Threadwell, which specializes in custom monograms from vintage ciphers to polished modern styles, features 67 different three-letter monogram styles which you can use for embroidered gift items for home, bed, bath, and baby. You're not limited to just three initials, of course, as your monograms can be customized to your particular preferences and design ideas.

What is a stacked monogram?

Instead of having the initials printed on one horizontal line, a stacked monogram has side letters stacked with one on top of another, and when stacked, equals the height of the main letter. If you want your monogram to look preppy, you may want to consider the stacked monogram style.

What is a proper monogram?

There is such a thing as a Monogram Etiquette. Knowing how to present them correctly is key to showcasing your personal brand and telling your personal story more impactfully.

In general, monograms follow the traditional principle in this order of presentation: first initial, last initial (larger than the two letters on each side), then middle initial. If someone doesn't have a middle name or opts not to use it, they often use a dual initial monogram or even the initial of their last name only.

Monograms for Men/Boys

Men's initials usually don't change, unless they and their spouses decide to use a hyphenated last name after they're married. So, a man named Charles Robert Sanders can have a single initial monogram using his last name only (S), a three-letter monogram (CSR with the S larger than C and R), or a four-letter joint monogram using a hyphenated last name with his wife, Rachel Parker Johnson, with the wife's initials first (RJ-SC with the initials for the surnames, J and S, larger than the initials for the first names, R and C).

Monograms for Women/Girls

Women's initials usually change once they're married. So, traditionally, women shift their middle or given last name to the middle name slot and drop their given middle name. So, Rachel Parker Johnson who married Charles Robert Sanders is now Rachel Johnson Sanders. Her personal monogram has changed by two letters: from RJP to RSJ with the middle letter larger in both cases. Some women do keep their maiden names professionally but not socially, so ask them what letters they'd like to use for their monograms.

Married Couple

Monograms for married couples who want a joint monogram may have a three-letter monogram with their joint married surname larger at the center and the initials of their first names on either side, with the woman's first name initial on the left and the man's on the right. So, with the previous example of Charles Robert Sanders and Rachel Parker Johnson, their joint three-letter monogram would be RSC.

They may also choose to have a joint married monogram with a hyphenated last name, as already previously discussed in the section on monograms for men/boys, so their monogram would be RJ-SC, with J and S larger.

They may also elect to have a two-letter monogram representing only their last names if the woman chooses to keep her maiden name, so their monogram would be J*S or J&S.

Monograms for Businesses

Businesses also use monograms to emphasize their brand personality, stand out from the competition, and attract their target audiences. Generally, businesses who have the following characteristics would do well to have their monograms made:

  • Their brand name consists of one or more names (like YSL for Yves Saint Laurent or HP for Hewlett-Packard);
  • Their company name is long (like BBC for the British Broadcasting Corporation);
  • Their brand is entering a global market and they want all people in the world to identify them by their monogram so it's easier to memorize in any country (like V&A for The Victoria and Albert Museum);
  • Their business is family-owned with an associated history and tradition (like LV for Louis Vuitton); and
  • Their business is a start-up which brand they want to immediately highlight as an original identification symbol.

Basically, however way you want to use monograms is up to you. You can use them for celebration decor, as gifts, for personal possessions, and for business branding. With Threadwell, you can bring your own monogram design and item for monogramming, embroidered, or vinyl-pressed by its team of highly experienced, creative, and professional people.

Contact Threadwell today for all your customized monogram needs. Make personalization a way of life for you and your loved ones! You deserve nothing less.