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Monogramming easier than ever

| Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, 9:03 p.m.
The Washington Post
Monogrammed and personalized gifts are easier to order and faster to get with current technology. Clockwise, from top left, are: plates from C. Wonder, cotton napkins from Mark and Graham, pendant necklace from PBteen, gift tags from Tiny Prints, mini trays from Jill Rosenwald, personalized wall art from RedEnvelope.com, throw pillow from RedEnvelope.com, gloves from C. Wonder. Illustrates MONOGRAM (category l), by Elizabeth Mayhew, special to The Washington Post. Moved Thursday Dec. 20, 2012. (No photo credit required)

Everyone, these days, is a brand. If you blog, tweet, Instagram, friend, and/or pin, you can show the world who you are, what you like and what you stand for.

One thing that brands love more than anything is a logo. This might explain why monogramming is having its moment. Just like Gucci with its G's, Chanel with its C's, and Louis Vuitton with its LVs, each of us can have our initials embroidered, etched, silkscreened or printed on just about anything from yoga mats to rolling pins.

Yes, what used to be thought of as elitist — think silver cups and linen handkerchiefs — is no longer. Monogramming has gone mainstream.

The new catalog and e-commerce site Mark and Graham is setting out to modernize monogramming, in its typeface selections and in its process. What makes the shopping experience so pleasurable is that you can preview your design on your computer screen. No more waiting until you get the final product to know whether it's going to look good. Plus personalization is built into the price of the product. Goodbye to $7 (and up) fees to monogram. And you get the items delivered in six to eight business days, with a rush option of two to three days.

How do they do it? Mark and Graham is an offshoot of Williams-Sonoma, so it's able to use the same giant personalization facility in Tennessee as its sister companies, Pottery Barn, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma.

Similar advancements in printing have made personalized stationery a huge online industry. No longer do you have to pore through unwieldy binders deciding which ink color and paper stock you want. Companies such as Minted, Tiny Prints, Iomoi, the Stationery Studio and the new Paper by Paperless Post offer hundreds of design, paper and envelope options that you can preview, approve and have shipped to you in a matter of days.

A spinoff of the personalized stationery craze is personalized artwork. Minted.com and RedEnvelope.com sell customizable “art prints” that include specific designs to commemorate weddings, anniversaries, births and other milestones.

Typed monograms are not the only kind of personalization out there. Take a look at Bespoke Custom Gifts, where you can use photos, silhouettes, your favorite sports or hobbies, even the state where you live, to customize items.

This is why personalizing is hot right now: It's personal. In this global economy, it is harder and harder to find unique items. Anyone can get anything at any time, but by adding a monogram or personalized message to something, you are making the item special, and you are also signaling that you put extra time and thought into the purchase.

Elizabeth Mayhew is a contributing writer to The Washington Post.

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