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A cultural icon can be an image, a symbol, a logo, picture, name, face, person, or building or other image that is readily recognized, and generally represents an object or concept with great cultural significance to a wide cultural group.A representation of an object or person, or that object or person may come to be regarded as having a special status as particularly representative of, or important to, or loved by, a particular group of people, a place, or a period in history.

In the media, many well-known manifestations of popular culture have been described as "iconic", with some writers saying that the word is overused.

Icons and persons

Human beings can acquire the status of cultural icons through their actions, achievements, role, beliefs, convictions.

Icons and brands

Brands can reflect societal values and changes, but many people have become weary of them. Many brands aspire to become cultural icons, but fail. Cultural icons are often timeless, imprinted in our consciousness. They can go through several stages, from "rumblings, undercurrents" via "catharsis, explosion" and "mass acceptance, ripple effect" to "glorification, representative value". While brands are rational and driven by features, cultural icons are emotional, free, driven by feeling, and creating emotional bonds..

Cultural icons worldwide

Cultural icons may be national, regional or related to a city. In addition, they can be symbols for a nation, or can evoke particular values held by that state. For example, Francemarker uses Marianne as a symbol of the French Revolution and the rejection of royalism in favor of republicanism and laicity.

Media overuse of the term

Some writers say that the terms "icon" and "iconic" have been overused. A writer in Liverpool Daily Post calls "iconic" "a word that makes my flesh creep", a word "pressed into service to describe almost anything". The Christian Examiner nominates "iconic" and "amazing" to its list of overused words, finding over 18,000 "iconic" references in news stories alone, with another 30,000 for "icon", including use of the descriptor for SpongeBob Squarepants.

See also


  1. Heard about the famous icon? We have - far too often, The Independent, London January 27, 2007
  2. Lessons from Cultural Icons - How to Create an Iconic Brand [1]
  3. Let's hear it for the Queen's English, Liverpool Daily Post
  4. Modern word usage amazingly leaves us yearning for gay, old times, Christian Examiner

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