Good flags, bad flags,and How to Tell the Difference


Please note: these are not my opinions on what flags are the coolest or the prettiest. They are judgments based on principles that describe what makes flags successful as flags.

How can you tell the difference between a good flag and a bad flag? Not between a pretty flag and an ugly one, or between a cool one and a dorky one, or even just between one you like and one you don’t like. There are principles, derived from what flags are and are meant to do, that allows us to decide. This video describes those principles, with examples, and then gives a list each of good flags and bad flags. Your opinion may vary, of course, but I hope that you will at least look a flags a little differently after watching the video.
A good source for information on flags is the North American Vexillological Association’s website, You can find their wonderful and short publication Good Flag, Bad Flag. How to design a great flag here: (For the record, I named this video before coming across that booklet. Great minds think alike, I guess.)
I got my illustrations of national flags from
Some time in the future I’ll be making another video about flags, this time about state flags, including suggested redesigns, some my own, and some by other people. If you don’t want to miss that, subscribe now.

Here are some other youtube videos on flag design:

(A great TED talk.)



  1. Nepal's process of making flag
    1: multiple pounds of high grade wild grown marijuana
    2: contemplate life, looks at the horizon, finds out that there is no horizon, just the sun, moon, and mountains
    3: make a flag out of it.

  2. I adore Grenada's flag (a bad one for you), but also Kiribati and Guyana's ones….. what about Marshall's flag? One of my favourite ones!

  3. I don't like many of the post colonial flags as they all seem to have some sort of 1960's tackiness to them. Secondly the Massachusetts flag isn't that bad because it is a white background which makes it easily identifiable against the other SOBs. Thirdly the Massachusetts state flag should probably be the battle of bunker hill militia flag because, just because

  4. I posted my idea for the flag of the tristate area on my google plus. The white is for peace, the blue is for culture, the orange is for balance, and the red is for courage. The starts represent the three states in the tristate area, and the red spikes resemble blades.

  5. How can the South African flag not be the best flag? It is beautiful and meaningful.
    And no, I am not a protea. I am an Indian.

  6. I think the shape of Nepal's flag is disgusting. While many other things are design principles, a rectangular shape should be a design law for flags.

  7. I think Central African Republic has a good flag. Because the colors stand out very well. It's not that busy. It only breaks the 3rd rule though.

  8. How date you insult the people of my country of Grenada. The flag was designed by an artist and looks more vibrant of culture than your crapy American banner

  9. Thank you for this video, which I found most interesting. May I point out that the "Royal Standard" at 8:22 is the Queen of the United Kingdom's personal standard: Queen Elizabeth II is not the "Queen of England". May I also point out that the "Lion Rampant Flag" at 8:34, aka the "Royal Banner of Scotland", is not used solely by the monarch. According to the Lord Lyon King of Arms: "its correct use is restricted to only a few Great Officers of State in Scotland who officially represent The Sovereign, including:

    the First Minister as Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland,
    Lord Lieutenants in their Lieutenancies,
    the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland,
    the Lord Lyon King of Arms,
    and other lieutenants specially appointed.
    Its use by other, non-authorised persons is an offence under the Act of Parliament 1672"

    Finally, it is the Kingdoms of Ireland, Scotland and England that form the United Kingdom, over which The Queen is Sovereign.

  10. I know it violates the "no writing" rule but I think otherwise the Brazilian flag is a great flag. The colors with well together, it's not static, it's easily distinguishable, and even the writing is small enough to not greatly affect the overall design.


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