How to design a Good Flag?

I had recently read a book titled Good Flag, Bad Flag, compiled by Ted Kaye. There are five basic principles to guide in designing a great looking flag. These five basic principles can be used to create a great looking flag for an organization, city, tribe, company, family, neighborhood, or even a country.

A video summary:

  • Keep it simple (so simple that a child can easily draw it from memory.)
  • Use meaningful symbolism.
  • Use 2-3 basic colors.
  • No lettering or seals of any kind.
  • Be distinctive or be related.

First basic principle is to keep it simple. The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory. For example, the flag of Congo is simple and easy to draw and remember. Another example, Japanese flag is also simple and easy to remember.

The second basic principle is to use meaningful symbolism. The flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes. For example, the flag of Ukrane has a light blue stripe, and a yellow stripe. Blue represent the sky, over yellow wheat fields. Both the color and the direction of the stripes carry a deep meaning.

The third basic principle is to use basic colors. The number of colors on a flag should be limited to three. And, they should contrast well and come from the standard color set. For example, the flag of Dominican Republic uses a good contrast of red and blue colours. The white cross at the middle of the flag gives a ‘negative space’. The flag of the USA also uses red, blue and white. The flag of Canada has red and white colours.

The fourth basic principle is not to use any letter of seals. Letter are to be read and seals are designed to be printed in paper. Flags are usually flying in a distance and are waving in wind. In most of the time, people can’t read what is written in them. Same goes to the seal. No minor details in the flag is visible at a distance.

The fifth basic principle is to avoid duplicating other flags. Similarities in flags can also be used to show connections between the two flags. This principle has been ignored in the design of some of the flags. For example, the flags of Indonesia and Monaco are the same. When reversed they are same as Poland’s flag.

These guidelines are summarized from a book titled ‘Good Flag Bad Flag’.

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