Douglas-fir Flags

Illustration by Wendy Smith

The magnificent Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is, after the coast redwood, North America’s second-tallest tree, reaching heights of 300 feet or more. Found throughout the wetter parts of Cascadia, it was declared the State Tree of Oregon in 1939 and has appeared on Oregon’s passenger car license plates since 1988.

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In designing a flag for Cascadia, Alexander Baretich chose the Douglas-fir as its emblem, based both on its prevalence in the bioregion and his lifelong familiarity with it, as dominated the southwest Portland neighborhood where he grew up.

The Cascadian Flag, Alexander Baretich, designer.
The Cascadian Flag, Alexander Baretich, designer.

The Douglas-fir has also captivated the imagination of Clifton Stone, who recently wrote to us to share some designs he has made to represent the state of Oregon:

I came up with a flag that is a close-up of a Douglas Fir sprig–six needles on a twig. I got the idea because I sometimes play around with macro-photography, the Doug Fir is obviously a major symbol for the state, and I totally love the look of close-ups of conifer sprigs and other small, graphically-patterned natural phenomena. Viewed closely enough, they can look like hidden natural flags.

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His first design featured green needles symmetrically branching out from a central horizontal bar.  He calls the design “the Doug Sprig”.

The Doug Sprig flag, designed by Clifton Stone.
The Doug Sprig flag (version 1), designed by Clifton Stone.

Looking more closely at Douglas-fir sprigs, he noticed that the needles actually branch off alternately from the stem.  This led to a second, preferred version.  (In heraldic terms, the reversing of colors between the upper and lower green-and-white stripes is called counterchanged.)

The Doug Sprig flag (version 2), designed by Clifton Stone.

Two other Douglas-fir inspired proposed flags for Oregon can be found among the 10 finalists in The Oregonian’s 2008 Oregon Flag Contest.

Proposed flag for Oregon by Lorraine Bushek (2008).
Proposed flag for Oregon by Lorraine Bushek, finalist in The Oregonian’s Oregon Flag Contest of 2008.
Proposed flag for Oregon by Karen L. Azinger, finalist in The Oregonian's Oregon Flag Contest of 2008.
Proposed flag for Oregon by Karen L. Azinger, finalist in The Oregonian’s Oregon Flag Contest of 2008.

The International Flag of Planet Earth

For his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications project at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden, Oskar Pernefeldt has produced a very slick set of marketing materials for an “official proposal” for “the International Flag of Planet Earth“.  On May 18th, Jacob Kastrenakes posted on The Verge a writeup entitled, with needless belligerency, This is the flag we’ll plant when we conquer an alien planet This went viral, sending Pernefeldt’s flag concept zipping internationally around the planet Earth, in cyber space if not outer space.

Seven interlocking circles form a flower.
Seven interlocking circles form a flower.

Is this school project the first Internet-savvy “product launch” for a new flag?  As a point of comparison, it will be interesting over the coming months to see how the countries of Fiji and New Zealand will use graphic design and social media platforms to market the new flags now being worked on.

A row-house resident defies his conformist American neighbors by declaring his allegiance to the planet!
A row-house resident defies his conformist American neighbors by declaring his allegiance to the planet!

This project was far from a solo effort.  Pernefeldt thanks 15 individuals (including FIAV president Michel Lupant, and a heraldic artist from the Swedish national archives, Henrik Dahlström) and the following diverse set of six companies for their assistance:

  • bsmart – a photography, 3D/CGI, and image retouch company based in Stockholm and Cape Town
  • Johnér Images – a stock photography “natural imagery” firm
  • Flaggfabriken Kronan – a Swedish flag maker and retailer
  • LG Electronics – the South Korean consumer electronics giant
  • Namnband – a Swedish company specializing in garment labeling equipment
  • NASA – the US space agency (but why not the European Space Agency?)
A Mars explorer drives out into a shallow valley, inexplicably, to plant a plastic looking banner/flag.
A Mars explorer drives out into a shallow valley, inexplicably, to plant a plastic looking banner/flag.

All in all, a very impressive student project on futuristic vexillography.  It would have been even stronger had it addressed the materials requirements for spaceworthy flags, and for flags that could actually fly in the thin Martian atmosphere.  And it does not try to position itself within the existing design space for earth flags, including John McConnell’s famous Earth Flag.  But for an undergraduate art project, really not bad at all — and perhaps something Fiji, New Zealand, and other new flag promotion projects can learn from.

Redesigning Union Jack-based Flags

In the past few years the British Union Jack and flags that incorporate it have been matters of public interest and debate.  Fiji and New Zealand, and, to a lesser extent, Australia and the UK are or have been reconsidering the suitability of their existing flags.  Only Tuvalu appears resolute in keeping the Union Jack on its flag.

Taking these in order of time horizon for change, from most far-off to most near-term (and, perhaps not coincidentally, from biggest to smallest in affected population — with 9000-person Tuvalu as an outlier):

Tuvalu

The flag of Tuvalu
The current and former flag of Tuvalu.  Apparently influenced by the light blue flag of nearby Fiji, this design by children’s author Vione Natano was created to mark the country’s independence on 1 October 1978. (Independent, but retaining Elizabeth Windsor as Queen of Tuvalu.) The nine stars, pointing in various directions, form a map of Tuvalu’s nine islands.  Pro-republic Prime Minister Kamuta Latasi redesigned the flag to eliminate the Union Jack in January 1996 — but by April 1997 both he and his flag were gone after losing a no-confidence vote.  18 years later the issue appears to have been laid to rest.

United Kingdom

Redesign possibilities published by the Flag Institute in the UK, responding to public interest should Scotland secede.  See Jonathan Jones' February 2014 article, The union jack: how can a redesign do it justice?
Redesign possibilities published by the Flag Institute in the UK, responding to public interest should Scotland secede. See Jonathan Jones’ February 2014 Guardian article, The union jack: how can a redesign do it justice? Interest has since died down, following the defeat of the Scottish independence referendum in September 2014; but with the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon’s surprisingly strong showing in the recent British elections, a redesign of this flag may be, as she says of independence, “when, not if”.

Australia

John Blaxland's proposal for a new Australia flag.
John Blaxland’s 2013 proposal for a new Australia flag.  The flag debate in Australia has been simmering for decades, and has to some extent flared up around Blaxland’s proposal, but there seems to be little political will to change.  Perhaps the reality of a new flag over its neighbor New Zealand may stir things up again, though this may have the opposite effect as the issue of confusion with the Kiwi’s flag would be resolved.

New Zealand

Animation of proposed NZ flag redesigns, from Alissa Walker's May 2015 GIZMODO article, 9 Designs That Could Finally Replace New Zealand's Controversial Flag.
Animation of proposed NZ flag designs, from Alissa Walker’s May 2015 GIZMODO article, 9 Designs That Could Finally Replace New Zealand’s Controversial Flag.  Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is driving a $25 million, two year process with the intent of finding a flag that won’t be confused with Australia’s and will better represent the country’s multiethnic population.

Fiji

Current Flag of Fiji
The current flag of Fiji, based on its flag as a British colony, was simultaneously and independently designed by acquaintances Tessa MacKenzie and Robi Wilcock in 1970.  (The Flags of the World website has preserved a wonderful interview with Mrs. MacKenzie from that time.)  Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama announced February 3rd that Fiji will have a new, post-colonial flag adopted by October 10th, the 45th anniversary of its independence. As we reported yesterday the Portland Flag Association’s Ted Kaye has been appointed to the committee tasked with producing a short list of finalist designs out of 1,400 submissions.

Ted Kaye Joins Flag Redesign Committee for Fiji

Fijian Prime Minister Bainimarama
Fijian Prime Minister Bainimarama

On February 3rd Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama declared that Fiji would be changing its flag.  Today, he announced the 13 members of a National Flag Committee tasked with recommending a shortlist of new flags for the South Pacific nation.  Committee members include a variety of prominent Fijians:

  • Shaenaz Voss: senior manager Fiji Airways, former executive officer of Air Fiji, board member of Unit Trust of Fiji and Film Fiji;
  • Ilaitia Jikoiono: artist and designer and creative director of Style Magazine;
  • Shammi Lochan: radio personality and currently radio program director Fiji Broadcasting Corporation;
  • Lenora Qereqeretabua: national public relations consultant and former Miss Hibiscus;
  • Manpreet Kaur: academic specialising in linguistics and diasporic studies at the University of Fiji;
  • Niqa Tuvuki: culture and heritage specialist at the Fiji Arts Council;
  • The Tui Wainunu Ratu Orisi Baleitavea;
  • Agni Deo Singh: trade unionist and general secretary of the Fiji Teachers Union;
  • Craig Marlow: community artist;
  • Tiko Matawalu: sporting personality, rugby player and coach;
  • Dinesh Patel: businessman and member of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Iliesa Delana, after winning a Gold Medal for Fiji in high jump at the 2012 Paralympics
Iliesa Delana, after winning a Gold Medal for Fiji in high jump at the 2012 Paralympics

The committee will be chaired by Iliesa Delana, Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports and Para-Olympic Gold Medalist.

At last week’s meeting of the Portland Flag Association, Ted Kaye shared with us the exciting news that he will be joining the committee as its 13th member and only vexillologist.  Apparently an interview that he did with the online magazine Vice and reprinted by the Fiji Sun caught the eye of the Fijian government, and convinced them of the need for a “flag expert and vexillologist”. Ted said he was very honored that they reached out to him to serve in that role, and would soon be on a plane to Suva.

Ted Kaye  (Photo by Patrick Genna)
Ted Kaye (Photo by Patrick Genna)

The Committee has a great deal of work to do in short order:  to sift through 1,400 flag designs that have been submitted for consideration and to make its recommendations in time to meet the looming deadline of October 10th, the 45th anniversary of Fijian independence.  The Prime Minister has ordered that a new flag be in place in time for the celebrations.

An ad for Fiji Day showing the existing flag.  A new flag is expected by Fiji Day 2015.
An ad for Fiji Day showing the existing flag. A new flag is expected by Fiji Day 2015.

Mars (and Kaye) Bring Vexillology To TED

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Roman Mars

This March design celebrity and charismatic podcaster Roman Mars gave the first ever TED talk on vexillology (the scholarly study of flags and their design), entitled Why city flags may be the worst-designed thing you’ve never noticed.  

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This marked a milestone in visibility for vexillology.  Mars calls his design podcast 99% Invisibleand “99% Invisible” is actually not a bad characterization of vexillology.  A young field, it sprang up in the late 1960s when political scientist Whitney Smith and collaborators began to develop a systematic approach to the subject, founded the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA), and organized annual meetings.  It wasn’t until 1994 that NAVA’s annual journal Raven began showcasing academic vexillological research.  Despite a core of dedicated researchers, this interdisciplinary enterprise still for the most part flies under the radar.

Whitney Smith
Whitney Smith

Two days ago a video of the talk became available on ted.com and YouTube, and we noticed a spike in traffic to this our website.  (Welcome, TED visitors!)  Why?  Because much of Mars’ talk featured excerpts from a recorded interview with Ted Kaye, a founder of PFA and the compiler of the most influential resource for flag design advice, a NAVA booklet entitled Good Flag, Bad Flag: How to Design a Great Flag. (Bafflingly, NAVA has removed this booklet from the public portion of their website, but you can still find a copy of it here on the PFA site — in English and five other languages — as well as elsewhere on the net.)

Ted Kaye
Ted Kaye

Mars brought an almost evangelical zeal to teaching the audience about the Good Flag, Bad Flag principles. The crux of the talk is that these principles of good design are important not just for city flag design but for city design more generally:

Roman Mars: As we move more and more into cities, the city flag will become not just a symbol of that city as a place, but also it could become a symbol of how that city considers design itself,especially today, as the populace is becoming more design-aware. And I think design awareness is at an all-time high. A well-designed flag could be seen as an indicator of how a city considers all of its design systems: its public transit, its parks, its signage. It might seem frivolous, but it’s not.

Ted Kaye: Often when city leaders say, “We have more important things to do than worry about a city flag,” my response is, “If you had a great city flag, you would have a banner for people to rally under to face those more important things.”

Roman Mars: I’ve seen firsthand what a good city flag can do in the case of Chicago. The marriage of good design and civic pride is something that we need in all places. The best part about municipal flags is that we own them. They are an open-source, publicly owned design language of the community.

Here’s the TED talk on YouTube.  Enjoy!

Self-Similar Flags

The the popular meme shows, the flag of Norway is the “mother of flags”.

The flag of Norway contains within it the flag designs of six other countries.
The flag of Norway contains within it the flag designs of six other countries.

It doesn’t, however, contain itself (unless you don’t care about the relative widths of the white and blue parts to the whole).  In other words, it is not self-similar.

A less-popular meme points out one national flag that has this property:  the Czech Republic’s.

The Czech flag contains infinitely many smaller copies of itself.
The Czech flag contains infinitely many smaller copies of itself.

But there are more examples.  For one thing, any bicolor flag has this property:

750px-Flag_of_Monaco.svg
Flag of Monaco.
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Flag of Indonesia.
Flag_of_Poland.svg
Flag of Poland.
Flag_of_Ukraine.svg
Flag of Ukraine.

(The flags of Monaco and Indonesia, basically the same design, also contain copies of each other in themselves.)

Seychelles’ flag, though far more complex (five colors!), is also self-similar.

Flag of Seychelles.
Flag of Seychelles.

That’s it for national flags.  Looking farther afield, there are many other bicolors and a few other tricolors of the Czech type.  Single-color flags, like that of Qaddafi’s Libya, are self-similar, of course — uninteresting so.

Here’s a self-similar flag of four colors:

International Maritime Signal Flag for Z (Zulu).
International Maritime Signal Flag for Z (Zulu).

And, finally, there are the many heraldic gyronny flags.  Here are two examples:

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Flag of the Belgian commune of Celles-lez-Tournai.
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Civil flag of Lisbon, Portugal (version without the coat of arms).

Are there other kinds of self-similar flags not covered here?

Transforming Transnational Flags

Here are two more fascinating YouTube videos exploring the relationships between national flags.  Their creator goes only by the name Vexillographer.


“Transforming Transnational Flags” by Vexillographer, published 11 March 2012.  30 national flags.  Produced in Microsoft PowerPoint.


“Construction Paper World Flags” by Vexillographer, published 16 February 2015.  22 national flags.   A mistake: “You might notice a failed attempt at Gabon’s flag near the end, which I messed up by getting the order of the colors wrong. Oops.”

BTW, construction paper cutouts are an excellent medium for prototyping flag designs.  Unlike pen and paper, or pointer and software, they resist attempts at over-complicated designs.  Doug Lynch, designer of the Portland flag, was a strong proponent of this.

Parsons’ Flag for London

Jonathan Parsons is a British artist who works in the medium of flags (as well as sculpture, painting, and others).  One of his most colorful creations was a new flag for London (2003):

Flag for London, by Jonathan Parsons (2003).
Flag for London, by Jonathan Parsons (2003). Commissioned by TimeOut London.

I decided that a flag for the new city state should be very colourful to reflect the city’s huge diversity. ‘Flag for London’, in a couple of important ways, is a traditional flag design.  In the spirit of the new independent state, it subverts the old state flag (the Union Flag) and echoes the flag of a country that, through revolution, has previously gained independence of that state (the USA). In the layout of its colours, however, it is an entirely new national flag. The canton is ‘gyronny’ — ie it is divided in half in both directions diagonally as well as vertically and horizontally — and is coloured with the cycle of eight spectral hues. The field is divided into eight horizontal stribes that are a gradating tonal arrangement of the two sets of primary colours plus black and white. The way it is divided up, when hung vertically, can be seen to spell out the word ‘LONDON’. The striped field represents a capital letter L, while the gyronny canton contains squared versions of O, N and D. It literally has ‘London’ in it. Or, as a friend of mine said, ‘It’s London innit?’. (Parsons quoted in Time Out London.)

Parsons is currently leading the UK Parliament’s 2015 Flag Project, online at flags.parliament.uk, for which he’s produced some excellent materials on good flag design.  For more of his many flag-related pieces, see the flag works section of his website, jonathanparsons.com.

UK Parliament Flag Project

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To celebrate the 750th anniversary of the Montfort Parliament, the UK Parliament is hosting a nation-wide flag design project for British schoolchildren (ages 7-11).  The children are given a brief primer on flag design (including a video) developed by flag artist Jonathan Parsons, and then asked to create a flag to represent their local community.  Although students are asked to start by drawing a sketch of their flag, they finish by constructing their design out of colored (or, as they say, coloured) paper in 14 permitted shades. Fitting the UK’s reputation for excellence in design, the Parliament Flag Project provides — to adults as well as children — a beautifully made online resource for good flag design.

Fourteen colours approved for flag-making.
Fourteen colours approved for flag-making.

Designs will be added throughout the year to an online gallery, and selected designs will be turned into actual cloth flags to be used at events.  Here are some early examples:

"We are honoured to have been selected to create the flag to represent the constituency of Delyn and have chosen green to represent the mountains and the countryside, red to represent the Welsh Dragon. We have also used yellow to represent our national flower the Daffodil and blue as our school colour." (Link to entry.)
Bryn Coch: “We are honoured to have been selected to create the flag to represent the constituency of Delyn and have chosen green to represent the mountains and the countryside, red to represent the Welsh Dragon. We have also used yellow to represent our national flower the Daffodil and blue as our school colour.” (Link to entry.)
"Here is our flag design from Mary Swanwick Primary School representing Chesterfield, Derbyshire. This was designed and made by children in Year 5 and 6. YELLOW – represents the abundance of rape seed crops in the fields around Chesterfield. RED – represents the town and its buildings. WHITE – signifies the regeneration of Chesterfield Canal. GREEN – because our town is famously referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Peaks’. The centre emblem is the Crooked Spire of which Chesterfield is most famous." (Link to entry.)
“Here is our flag design from Mary Swanwick Primary School representing Chesterfield, Derbyshire. This was designed and made by children in Year 5 and 6. YELLOW – represents the abundance of rape seed crops in the fields around Chesterfield. RED – represents the town and its buildings. WHITE – signifies the regeneration of Chesterfield Canal. GREEN – because our town is famously referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Peaks’. The centre emblem is the Crooked Spire of which Chesterfield is most famous.” (Link to entry.)
"The yellow triangle is the shard which I can see from my classroom. I chose yellow because the sun light reflects off it. The light blue background represents the sky on a clear day and the dark blue is the River Thames which flows close to my area." (Link to entry.)
Friars Primary Foundation School: “The yellow triangle is the shard which I can see from my classroom. I chose yellow because the sun light reflects off it. The light blue background represents the sky on a clear day and the dark blue is the River Thames which flows close to my area.” (Link to entry.)
"Our flag has a shield and a sword in the middle to represent the Knight's Templar which is connected to our area. Red stripes are to represent apples that grow in the local orchards. Yellow stripes are to represent the county reaching out to people. A green background represents the fields of our farming community. Our flag is based on the union flag because we are part of Britain." (Link to entry.)
Abbas and Templecombe Church of England Primary School: “Our flag has a shield and a sword in the middle to represent the Knight’s Templar which is connected to our area. Red stripes are to represent apples that grow in the local orchards. Yellow stripes are to represent the county reaching out to people. A green background represents the fields of our farming community. Our flag is based on the union flag because we are part of Britain.” (Link to entry.)
"Gordon Primary School: The flag was designed and made by pupils: Abbie, Emily, Bartek and Patricia. The colours chosen were blue for the sea and rivers in our area. The yellow was for the crops farmers grow and green for our green fields." (Link to entry.)
Gordon Primary School: “The flag was designed and made by pupils: Abbie, Emily, Bartek and Patricia. The colours chosen were blue for the sea and rivers in our area. The yellow was for the crops farmers grow and green for our green fields.” (Link to entry.)
Ferndown Middle School: "During the flag initiative project all classes were involved in sharing ideas and coming up with a design which incorporated their views about Ferndown. The School Council led the project, liaising with their tutor groups and bringing ideas together to produce a final design. Although this was a whole school contribution about 15 pupils work together to produce the final product, We chose a green background to represent nature and the green spaces where we are free to play and enjoy the fresh air. We have shaped the main design like a fern leaf and chose white and brown to show that Ferndown is clean and surrounded by woodlands. The School Council decided that people were the most important part of our community and we chose to include different people to reflect diversity. The hands are linked to show that we all work together." (Link to entry.)
Ferndown Middle School: “During the flag initiative project all classes were involved in sharing ideas and coming up with a design which incorporated their views about Ferndown. The School Council led the project, liaising with their tutor groups and bringing ideas together to produce a final design. Although this was a whole school contribution about 15 pupils work together to produce the final product, We chose a green background to represent nature and the green spaces where we are free to play and enjoy the fresh air. We have shaped the main design like a fern leaf and chose white and brown to show that Ferndown is clean and surrounded by woodlands. The School Council decided that people were the most important part of our community and we chose to include different people to reflect diversity. The hands are linked to show that we all work together.” (Link to entry.)

Flags in the Hierarchy of Pride

Michael Green is a designer, self-proclaimed Flag Geek, and author of the excellent Branding the Nations blog on Medium.com.  In his posting on (the sad state of) US state flags, The Good, the “Meh” and the Ugly, he asks a fundamental question that is too often taken for granted in discussions, debates, and contests about flag design: “What is the point of a state flag anyway?”  His answer:  state pride.

Flag design isn’t where state pride is born, but it’s where it can live and grow.

This claim is not uncontroversial.  One can imagine other purposes for state flags: to mark official government buildings, or to allow the state to participate in flags-of-all-states displays.  On Medium, it produced this exchange in the comments section:

Do we really need people rallying around their states, a kind of scaled down nationalism (which easily turns into unproductive competitiveness and even resentments)? [Comment by Norman Dale]

It’s a good question and it is worth exploring.  I definitely see the resentment a lot living in Texas.  But I personally think the good outweighs the bad. [Reply by Michael Green]

Competition brings progress, and trying to out-do other states can only add to our productivity as a nation.  I love looking at this seldom approached topic. [Reply by Jon Sauder]

But instilling pride is certainly important, especially when it comes to adoption of a flag by a populace.  In his essay, Green relates state pride into a “proper hierarchy of pride”:

  1. Nation
  2. State
  3. City/Team

This hierarchy can manifest itself in symbols at one level referencing symbols at a higher one, as when sports teams incorporate their state flags into their logos.

Michael Green:  "A selection of major sports teams that incorporate their state flags into their branding."
Michael Green: “A selection of major sports teams that incorporate their state flags into their branding.”

But poor state flag design inverts this hierarchy, and results in a kind of synechdoche — using a part to represent the whole:

But in states where they have no decent visual branding in the form of a flag, state sports teams (with their superior logos, traditions and colors) usually take over the visual branding of a state. Citizens then funnel what state pride they have into their respective team. This creates more “team pride” than “state pride” and can segment state pride when you have more than one dominant team.

This is an excellent point, certainly born out in Oregon, where the logos and flags of the Oregon State University Beavers and the University of Oregon Ducks are seen way more often than the meh-is-putting-it-kindly Oregon state flag.  And in this rivalry of visual branding, the Ducks have an advantage, as they use not just professionally designed graphics but in fact one of the most famous global brands — they use Disney Corporation’s Donald Duck to be the Oregon Duck.

Donald Duck as the Oregon Duck.
Donald Duck as the Oregon Duck.

Passions around Ducks vs. Beavers run high and reach their boiling point in an annual “Civil War” game.  As Green points out, these “segment” symbols do a poor job of representing pride in the state as a whole, however.  Without a decent state flag, Oregon pride is most clearly shown in the domain of bumper stickers.

The Heart in Oregon Sticker, created by the Heart Sticker Company.
The Heart in Oregon Sticker, created by the Heart Sticker Company.

Green’s pride hierarchy also provides a way to think about the relationship between the “visual branding” of the Major League Soccer Portland Timbers and the city of Portland.  When the Timbers were promoted from minor league to major league status in 2011, the Portland city flag was seldom seen — in the city, or at their games.  It flew in the city at city hall and in the main public square, and at a few other sites.  It flew at Timbers games from a stadium flagpole, and the fanatical Timbers Army waved some in the stands, but not as much as they waved Timbers logo flags, Cascadia flags, and even green-and-white Nigerian flags.

Timbers Army waving all kinds of green, white, and yellow flags in 2011.  From timbersarmy.org front page.
Timbers Army waving all kinds of green, white, and yellow flags in 2011. From timbersarmy.org front page.
timbers-logo-flag
Timbers logo flag.

Over time, the Timbers Army grew to embrace the Portland flag more and more; it started to eclipse other flags at games (though the Cascadia flag is holding its own).  This led to the city flag achieving a kind of official status with the Timbers, as in 2014 Major League Soccer entered into an agreement with the city to use a modified Portland city flag on merchandise.

Merchandising graphic incorporating a version of the Portland city flag using Timbers' colors.
Merchandising graphic incorporating a version of the Portland city flag using Timbers’ colors.

As its use at Timbers games increased, Portland residents became more used to seeing their flag (and learning that their city had a flag), and its use outside of Timbers games increased — and it became a more important part of the city’s official branding, as in 2014 Portland Fire and Rescue was instructed to fly it at all of their stations throughout the city.

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Portland flag flies below the US flag at Fire and Rescue Station 21.  Instagram photo by Scott Mainwaring (@notmannering).

In terms of Green’s hierachy then, the Timbers/Portland flag example shows how —  in the context of there being no compelling visual branding at the state level — a team can make use of a well-designed but underused city flag, and begin a positive feedback loop between the “team” and “city” levels, strengthening the branding (and pride) of both.