Why the Dallas City Flag Sucks

But is there a better alternative?

Rudolph Bush takes note today of an effort by a fellow named Dallas May to get a new city flag adopted by the city of Dallas. In case you weren’t aware, the current flag looks like this:

Flag_of_Dallas.svg

It’s not a good design. It’s not a total disaster like, for instance, Milwaukee’s flag, but it could use an overhaul.

Roman Mars, the man behind the great podcast 99% Invisible has devoted time on his show, and given a TED talk on what makes for a great flag, why so many city flags are so bad, and why that matters as a symbol around which the public can rally and civic pride can be encouraged.

He emphasizes the five principles of great flag design, according to the North American Vexillogical Association. Those are:

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

“Simple” is defined as simple enough that a child could draw it from memory. Dallas’ flag fails on that and the other four measures as well. With that in mind, let’s evaluate May’s suggestion for a replacement:

Dallas May Pegasus flag

Commenters on the campaign’s Facebook page have suggested minor tweaks, but the basic idea is to embrace the Pegasus as a popular symbol the city, along with three blue lines to represent the Trinity River. I don’t think there’s any question that it meets criteria 2-5. But what about No. 1?

I’d favor an even more simplified, stylized version of the Pegasus. Something more like this, used on some lamp posts downtown. That’d be easier for a kid to draw and more striking.

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Comments

  • Alexander Muse

    While we’re updating the City’s flag with a version of ExxonMobil’s famous trademark, we might update the City’s logo with another famous trademark from another oil company. Imagine having “Big D the Dinosaur” as Dallas’ mascot greeting visitors when they arrive at the airport? I’ve put up a petition that at last count had at least one supporter. https://www.change.org/p/mayor-mike-rawling-dallas-city-council-adopt-the-dinosaur-as-the-official-logo-of-dallas

    • PeterTx52

      got to love the anti-oil folks who won’t give up the products produced by oil. only thing is the Sinclair dinosaur has nothing to do with Dallas

      • Alexander Muse

        Actually it does. The Dinosaur starts with D and D is the first letter of Dallas. See? That is pretty good, right?

        • dallasmay

          You’re right. Let’s do it!

        • It’s cute, but not exactly “deep meaning.” It’s used to greet visitors at the airport because it sounds cute and tourist-friendly. That’s not what you want in a flag representative of an entire city of over a million people.

  • dallasmay

    I actually tried to make the lamp posts work. Matt Wood pushed for that pretty hard. I just was never sold on it. Maybe your artists could do better then me.

  • Martín Medina

    Its time for an update!

  • dallasmay

    And I don’t think that NAVA meant that a child should be able to draw it Perfectly from memory.

    • PeterTx52

      i agree

    • PeterTx52

      I think NAVA intends for simple to mean simple in design. The Texas flag is simple

    • Jason Heid

      I don’t think so easier. I’m just using it as another argument in favor of a superior, sharper-angle rendition of the Pegasus.

      • dallasmay

        I really did try the Main St pegasus early on. I just never could sell myself on it.

        • Jason Heid

          I like it. Did you try it with the wavy blue lines behind it?
          Maybe it could be abstracted even more, where it sorta-kinda-if-you-squint could be read as either a Pegasus or a star?

  • Gabe

    The K in the corner with the dolphin stands for Klaus.

  • The “simpler” pegasus looks like a paper hat.

    • dallasmay

      I kinda get the “pegastar” that they were squeezing out of it. Honestly I think it looks great as a stencil on the lamp posts, but not so great on a flag.

  • The Pegasus and the Trinity are perfect symbols for Dallas. For one thing, it is very recognizable, and for another, it’s very honest. I’ve heard some people say that Dallas is a city “with no history but the JFK assassination.” This isn’t true. While Dallas was “the city that killed the President,” with all the hate and horror that accompanied the tragic event, it’s also a city that later honored his life in many memorials, museums, and murals. But to make that change, it first had to acknowledge that the assassination took place there, rather than trying to ignore it. Likewise, it has to acknowledge the role that less glamorous industries like the oil business have played in its development, and the rift between North and South Dallas that the Trinity represents, for it to start changing both its image and its direction. The Pegasus flag does exactly those things.

  • The Pegasus idea sux, but for different reasons than the current flag. First of all, Pegasus is the symbol for the company that preceded Mobil Oil. Just because a Pegasus flew over the Magnolia building is a reason to put him on the city flag? What kinda dumb logic is that?

    • And no, I don’t have a better alternative of offer. I say leave the city flag alone.

  • cliff anderson

    Roman Mars and Ted Kaye are getting way too much attention these days. I think their advice applies well to countries and even states (and plenty of awful, awful cities). Honestly, though, there are a lot of cities and counties out there. All those overly strict rules simply do not apply. In fact, I’ve got Dallas down for the best in the state:

    http://realfunwithflags.blogspot.com/2018/09/us-municipal-flags-south-dakota-thru.html

    Just scroll down a little (and be thankful you’re not Bastrop).