Flag Design Principles

A Creative Professional’s Take on How to Design a Great Flag

Roman Mars, one of Fast Company’s 100 most creative people, recently held a TED Talk in which he touched on the principles of flag design. TED is a nonprofit organization that was formed to help spread design ideas among entertainment, technology and design experts. It typically holds conferences where speakers give short, yet inspirational presentations about design ideas and concepts. During Roman’s presentation he touched on the uninspiring flag designs of many United States city flags. Let’s dive deeper into his flag design principles.

Flag Design Principles

Roman says that all of the best flags stick to these flag design principles.

  • Keep it simple
    • It should be so simple that a child should be able to draw it from memory.
  • Use meaningful symbolism
    • There is a distinct connection between symbolism and civic pride.
  • Use two to three basic colors from the standard color set
  • No lettering or seals
    • If you need to write the name of what your flag represents, your symbolism has failed.
  • Be distinctive (or be related)

In his presentation, Roman focused on the Chicago city flag design. He felt that it touched on all of the five principles of flag design. He emphasized that a flag should give people the feeling of association and serve as something to rally around – and the Chicago flag did just that. He spoke about how Chicago is a city that is famous for embracing their city flag design.

Image of the Chicago city flag.

Another city flag that Roman mentioned was the Milwaukee city flag. Roman felt that this flag failed in all aspects of the flag design principles. One particular area of failure was that it featured another flag on its flag (see the bottom left side of the gear).

Image of the Milwaukee city flag.

Watch Roman’s full presentation on flag design principles in the video posted below.

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