Roman Mars Tells Us About The Worst Designed Things You Never Noticed

by . June 10th, 2015

Most designers wouldn’t be caught dead near their city or state flags. They are almost universally mediocre as far as basic design principles go.

But take a flag like Chicago’s and you could see why Chicago’s police officers and firemen are sometimes buried with the city’s flag instead of the American flag’s stars and stripes.


The few exceptions make us think twice of how well-designed symbols help convey essential truths about the places we live in, and help us build stronger bonds with what they stand for.

In this TED talk, design podcaster Roman Mars puts on his vexillologist’s hat and explains how something as simple as a city flag can make such a huge difference.

Look at the transcript and original source here.

One thing that Roman Mars didn’t dwell on too much but is still pretty important is how flags are part of how we brand communities, in exactly the same way logos, typefaces, colorways, uniforms, copy tones, and more define how we brand anything else.

To drive the point home, here are a few doozies that made us wince:

Provo, Utah


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Tampa, Florida


Apoka, Florida


Pensacola, Florida


Oceanside, California


Baton Rouge, Lousiana


Inglewood, California


Amateur designer pro-tip!:

Don’t have a portfolio? Stuck in a creative rut? Re-imagine your city or state’s brand elements. Chances are, even basic improvements will look so much better in contrast. 


Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.