Monday, August 10, 2009

The History of Plaque Mentality

Award giving dates back centuries tied to bravery or valor while serving in war. Decorations and awards have been known since ancient times. Celts and Romans wore a torc, Dayaks wore and still wear tattoos, etc. Necklaces and bracelets were given during the early Middle Ages, evolving into richly jewelled big necklaces, often with a pendant (commonly a medal) attached. The Ancient Greeks used the word Thymos expressing the concept of "spiritedness". The word was also used to express the human desire for recognition. Homer even described Thymos as a permanent possession of living man, to which his thinking and feeling belonged. Belonging, tribal in nature, is the core reason for humans to recognize something well done.

We all now recognize a plaque as a plate of metal, ceramic, stone, wood, or other material, typically attached to a wall, stone, or other vertical surface, and bearing text in memory of an important figure or event. A common trophy shop wall plaque configuration takes the metal plate to a personal size, yet signifying similar aesthetics to public bronze monuments or plaques. These aesthetic histories become part of the collective recognition culture. There seems to be a certain expectation or "plaque mentality" when it comes to giving or getting a plaque award.

As a designer and manufacturer of certificate frames with "plaque mentality" I know several features that cannot be ignored: wood grain, metal, shiny decoration, gold or silver accents all give way to the perception signifying achievement or award. To this date, elements of pendants, celtic knots and stars are all part of that image history seen on certificates, pins, military uniforms, scout badges, university insignias to name a few. More modern representations of big necklaces used in hip-hop style can even trace its roots back to the middle ages as a sign of distinction, power and belonging.

How can you make "plaque mentality" work for you and give your business or organization's award program a sense of distinction, power and belonging? When tapping this rich aesthetic and psychologically historical direction for any award program rely on historical symbolism, build in your corporate brand symbolism, then channel that Thymos!

Sources: def; in Wikipedia, plaque, Thymos, decoration, commemoration

Of course we'd like to think our certificate frames can hold that special bling of Thymos in the digital age with a modern twist! Because everyone wants to belong.

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