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Flag designs lead to civics lesson for Oklahoma City students

As flags become powerful civic marketing tools, some high school students are suggesting Oklahoma City’s design could use an update.
by William Crum Published: May 14, 2014

Oklahoma City has a city flag.

Who knew?

As flags become powerful civic marketing tools, some high school students are suggesting Oklahoma City’s design could use an update.

John Bratt, who teaches classes including geography and Oklahoma history at Dove Science Academy, brought several of his students to this week’s city council meeting to share their ideas for a more eye-catching city standard.

Noting how the city has grown, Bratt said his main goal was “to get the conversation started.”

While “city pride is at an all-time high,” he said, the current flag — a version of the city seal on a white field with a red border — doesn’t measure up.

Oklahoma City’s flag finished 130th out of 150 city flags in an Internet poll sponsored by the North American Vexillological Association, which concerns itself with such matters.

Across the country, top-rated city flags are being transferred to fridge magnets, T-shirts, coffee mugs, postcards, even an iPhone case and men’s ties.

Des Moines, Iowa, put its flag on a lampshade.

NBA towns including Washington, D.C., Chicago, Denver, Phoenix and San Antonio all have popular designs.

In fact, Washington, Chicago and Denver finished 1-2-3 in the poll.

Even Wichita, Kan., has a popular design.


Why a flag?

The Vexillological Association says a flag’s purpose is, in part, to represent a place. It should be recognizable from a distance and capable of being reproduced “in quantity and in many sizes.”

No. 4 on the association’s list of dos and don’ts is “no lettering or seals,” Oklahoma City’s precise sin.

The city council adopted Oklahoma City’s current design in 1994.

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by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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At a glance

What goes into a flag’s design?

The North American Vexillological Association describes itself as “focused on flags — the shorthand of history.” It has published five principles of flag design.

•Keep it simple, so simple a child can draw it from memory.

•Colors often carry meaning; a single primary symbol usually is best.

•Use two to three standard colors that contrast well; separate dark colors with light.

•Never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal; seals are designed to be read at close range.

•Symbols, colors, and shapes can recall other flags — a powerful way to show heritage, solidarity, or connectedness.


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