The folks at the North American Vexillological Association get excited about flags. Yeah, I had to look up Vexillology too.
Anyway, they’ve got a 16 page how-to about designing a flag, for “your organization, city, tribe, company, family, neighborhood, or even country!”
Their advice centers around these five rules of flag design:
- Keep it simple
- Use meaningful symbolism
- Use 2-3 basic colors
- No lettering or seals
- Be distinctive or be related
Each point is supported by examples illustrating both the “right” and “wrong” way to do it.
Why is this an issue? It turns out they’ve been stirring up some publicity with the results of a recent survey of their members regarding the best and worst flags of North America. I’m ashamed (though not surprised) to find New Hampshire’s flag in the “worst ten” list. What mistakes does NH make? First, the flag has a damn seal on it, and the rules say “no seals.” Second, NH has about 19 miles of coastline, but we’ve got a freakin’ boat on the flag. Third, the seal is full of lettering, despite the rules. Finally, it’s indistinguishable from the other 20 or 30 state flags with a seal centered on a blue field.