4. No Lettering or Seals

Never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal…

Words defeat the purpose: why not just write "U.S.A." on a flag? A flag is a graphic symbol. Lettering is nearly impossible to read from a distance, hard to sew, and difficult to reduce to lapel-pin size. Words are not reversible—this forces double- or triple-thickness fabric.

Don’t confuse a flag with a banner, such as what is carried in front of a marching band in a parade, or draped behind a speaker’s platform—such banners don’t flap, they are seen from only one side, and they’re usually seen closer-up.

Seals were designed for placement on paper to be read at close range. Very few are effective on flags—too detailed. Better to use some element from the seal as a symbol. Some logos work; most don’t.


South Carolina (USA)

South Dakota (USA)
The palmetto tree represents "Palmetto State" far better than the state’s seal could. The crescent moon is in the position of honor. This flag uses a seal AND lettering! The name of the state actually appears twice.

Côtes d’Armor (France)

Loir-et-Cher (France)
Rather than the logo style frequently used by French departments and regions, Côtes d’Armor uses a stylized seagull in the shape of its coastline. All those words, plus an indistinguishable gray shape… Better to have used the stylized dragon on a more interesting background color.

Peguis Nation (Canada)

Fort Providence, NWT (Canada)
The contrasting colors with a single central symbol represent this Indian nation far better than could any seal. Despite the overall pattern recalling Canada, this flag (for an Indian community) stumbles with a virtually indistinguishable seal.
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