Adventures in vexillology – a new flag for Minneapolis

A good city flag can provide a rallying point for civic pride and the template for the design code of a city. Just look to Chicago or Washington DC as examples. Unfortunately, in a TED Talk, Public Radio podcaster Roman Mars points out that most city flags are abominations and embarrassments. While I was relieved that my home city of Minneapolis wasn’t on Mars’ worst list, I also couldn’t tell you what our flag looked like. Thats not good. A good flag will be flown.

Mars points out there are five rules to good flag design:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Use meaningful symbolism
  3. Use two to three basic colors
  4. No lettering or seals of any kind.
  5. Be distinctive

Lets now take a look at the current flag of Minneapolis:

Flag_of_Minneapolis,_Minnesota.svg

Ok, its simple, only uses two colors, and doesn’t include lettering…  BUT its so bland! It is not distinctive or meaningful in anyway. Any city can claim the four tenants in the symbol. It no wonder you don’t see it flown anywhere in the city. Minneapolis is too vibrant of a city to have too dull of a flag.

To create a new flag for Minneapolis, we should do due diligence and research the existing symbols to find a distinctive element. For this I turn to the revamped logo. And by revamped, I mean brought from the 50s into the 90s. However, with the logo we finally find a distinctive element, the sailboat. This makes sense for the city of lakes. We can potentially use this.

new-logo

The last piece of inspiration I felt is appropriate for the city of Minneapolis is actually a newer logo to the community, the logo for Minnesota United FC. Its a stunning logo, fitting of a modern city and is intentionally flag like. Now that MNU is joining MLS the fans deserve a distinctive local flag to wave at games, ala our civic rival Portland.

Minnesota_United_2014.svg

Considering all of this, I’m down to two proposals for the new flag for Minneapolis. Here is the first:

new-mpls-flag

Using the iconic sailboat symbol the view is brought immediately to the City of Lakes. The light blue represents the 20 or more lakes in city limits. The white represents our embrace of the winter. The charcoal gray represent the modernity of the city, our hipster-ness, if you will. The 45 degree diagonal line represents Minneapolis’ geographic location on the 45th parallel, halfway between the equator and North Pole. The last element I’m borrowing from MNU, the North Star. This represents Minneapolis’ position as the leading city of the True North and as a guide for the rest of the country to follow.

I like it, but where I’m torn is with the sailboat. Is the iconography strong enough? Do we need it? Perhaps this flag needs to be simpler. Here is my second suggestion:

new-mpls-flag2

UPDATE: After some great feedback on Facebook. I have a third and final proposal. This is the winner and ultimate suggestion. The sailboat just isn’t strong enough a symbol.

mpls-flag-FINAL

Would you fly this flag? Granted I did this for fun, but if you like it enough feel free to share this link with any Minneapolis city council members. Thank you Roman Mars for the inspiration.

UPDATE: Read Part 2, where I redesign the flag for the state of Minnesota.

Or visit my other flag related posts:

12 Responses to Adventures in vexillology – a new flag for Minneapolis

  1. Tim Karlberg

    Solid commentary, Brandon. And beautiful work as usual.

    Tim

  2. Casey Carl

    I actually like all three of your designs! But I think my favorite–if forced to choose–would be the second design (with the smaller-scale star). The gigantic star centered on the flag feels a bit “too much.” Way to go!! You should submit these officially–they are really quite good!!

    • Thank you for your kind words :)

  3. Matt Steele

    If we all start flying this on our porches, won’t it become defacto official at some point? Where can I buy it?

    • Brandon

      Thanks @Matt. Unfortunately, there aren’t any actual versions of this flag. Maybe I need to start a kickstarter. :)

  4. James Mahaney

    The only change I would make is changing the six pointed star to an eight pointed star. It’s the de-facto symbol of Minnesota (The State Capitol has, like, a bajillion of the damn things) and represents the northstar in a clearer way (in my opinion)

  5. Eric Saathoff

    Late to the game here…

    Really enjoyed reading about your design ideas – especially the MN state flag with the star/snowflake in the center.

    One comment on this flag – the diagonal is not at 45 degrees unless the flag is a square. If it is supposed to be symbolic of 45 degrees I think this is important.

    • Brandon Hundt

      @Eric,

      You are right. I’ll consider this!

  6. Gabe

    Nice work! A question and a comment:

    1) Did you have the flag of Somalia in mind at all when you approached this? The light blue and use of the star evokes the Somalian* flag for me. (* re “Somali vs Somalian,” followed second commenter’s lead here: http://www.somaliaonline.com/community/topic/the-correct-demonym-somali-or-somalian/)

    2) Mars’ Rule 3 (“Use 2 or 3 basic colors”) seems gratuitous. Sure, there are many examples of poor design resulting from too many colors, but that comes down to the design. First counterexample to come to my mind was South Africa’s flag–No fewer than *six* colors, used in an elegant and compelling design.

    • Brandon Hundt

      @Gabe Thanks for your comment!

      1. The Somalian flag was in the back of my head. Thought it would be a bit of a nod to the diversity of the city. In an actual proposal to the city council I would add this tidbit.
      2. They aren’t rules but are guidelines. In pointing out South Africa, I think you found the exceptional exception to the color guidelines. Normally flags with 4 or more colors take it too far. The vast majority of flags can make due with 2 or 3.

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