Examining Flag Design and Cultural Influence on Flag Day 2016
By: Nate Ruben
We at Ruben Digital Media are big fans of TED Talks. “Ideas worth spreading.” Such a powerful idea that has radically altered the way new ideas spread in today’s digital world. One of our favorite talks is by Roman Mars, titled “Why city flags may be the worst-designed thing you’ve never noticed.” Prior to his talk, I had no clue about vexillology — the study of flags. I was intrigued by such an odd topic of conversation, but the video had me hooked from start to finish. I even started redesigning some municipal flags (I’ll save those for another day). Mars discussed 5 basic principles of good flag design, then applying them to design as a whole. We list the 5 principles below, as well as some of our favorite flags, and the whole TED video for you to watch!
The Five Basic Principles of Flag Design
- Keep It Simple
- Use Meaningful Symbolism
- Use 2-3 Basic Colors
- No Lettering or Seals of Any Kind
- Be Distinctive or Be Related
This list is not perfect, but many of the following examples will follow this format. There are exceptions. Here is what Roman Mars had to say in another blog:
Sticking to these principles does not, sadly, guarantee that you’ll design a great flag (or anything else), but it’s a good start. However, as with all design, there are always outliers that violate the conventional principles, and still manage to delight and inspire.
RDM Favorite Flags: Our Top 4
When I was in elementary school, we had a project to color a nation’s flag. I chose Nepal because it was smaller than the rest! Interesting enough, Nepal is the only country to have a non-quadrilateral flag. Read more…
My heritage is very important to me. Blue is my favorite color, and the pairing with white is instantly recognizable. The hexagram, referred to as the Star of David, or informally as a “Jewish Star,” is also known universally. Read more…
3. Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers redesigned their logo, and it really pops on a flag. Simple mascot, 3 colors (black, white, blue), and no letters. This flag follows many of the principles and works.
I first saw this flag when Ghana beat the USA in the 2010 World Cup. It is beautiful. Here is a description of the symbolism (from wikipedia):
“The flag was designed by Theodosia Okoh. The red represents the blood of those who died in the country’s struggle for independence from the United Kingdom, the gold represents the mineral wealth of the country, the green symbolises the country’s rich forests and natural wealth, and the black star is the symbol of African emancipation.” Read more…
Roman Mars TED Talk
Thanks for reading our list. Hopefully you liked what we had to show. If you have some time, watch the talk below by Roman Mars. It is very entertaining and quite informative!