Flag Design

The Association promotes standards of good flag design in North America. Those standards are reflected in the “The Guiding Principles of Flag Design,” the report of the Joint Commission on Vexillographic Principles.

Download the report.

The Principles are based on the following understandings. First, the Institute and Association as Members of the Fédération internationale des associations vexillologiques accept the definition of vexillology in FIAV Constitution article 2, which is “the creation and development of a body of knowledge about flags of all types, their forms and functions, and of scientific theories and principles based on that knowledge.” Second, the Institute and Association recognize that vexillography, which is the art and practice of designing flags, is allied with vexillology, but is not synonymous with that discipline. The Institute and Association further recognize that while vexillography may embrace aesthetic values, vexillology does not. The Institute and Association agree that to a vexillologist there are no bad flags, only flags to be studied; accordingly, the Principles will not be regarded as vexillological principles.

In May 2014, The Flag Institute and the Association agreed to work together to adopt common vexillographic principles. To draft the Principles, the Institute and Association each appointed two commissioners, and these four commissioners then recommended a fifth commissioner. After approval by the presiding officers of the Institute (Charles Ashburner, FFI, chief executive) and the Association (Hugh Brady, FF, president), the commission elected a chairman and consisted of the following: Graham M.P. Bartram, FFI, chairman; Edward B. Kaye; Jason Saber; Charles A. Spain, WSF; and Philip S. Tibbets.

The Commission's report, submitted 1 October 2014, has been accepted by the two presiding officers and adopted by both the Institute and the Association. Accordingly, the Principles are official policy statements of both The Flag Institute and the North American Vexillological Association | Association nord-américaine de vexillologie. They may be modified or expanded in the future by the establishment of a new commission, on terms mutually agreeable to the Institute and the Association.

Other useful information includes:

  • Case Studies, which are analyses of flag design efforts by Association members who have consulted with public and private entities to design, select, and adopt flags.
  • 2004 City Flag Survey, which was an Internet survey rated the design qualities of the flags of 150 municipal flags in the U.S.
  • 2001 State/Provincial Flag Survey, which was an Internet survey rated the design qualities of 72 flags of states, provinces, and territories of the U.S. and Canada.

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