Did you know that the City of Melbourne has its own flag? Me neither, and I think it is because it’s one of most misdesigned flags. For those who have never seen it before, it looks like this:
It is made up of four quadrants, separated by the cross of Saint George, with the Royal Crown in the middle to symbolise the monarchy. In the quadrants are a ship to symbolise trade, and a whale, sheep and cow to represent their respective industries.
But this flag has been poorly designed. According to the book ‘Good Flad, Bad Flag’, by the Portland Flag Association, there are five rules for good flag design.
- Keep It Simple. The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory
- Use Meaningful Symbolism. The flag’s images, colours, or patterns should relate to what it symbolises
- Use 2 or 3 Basic Colours. Limit the number of colours on the flag to three which contrast well and come from the standard colour set
- No Lettering or Seals. Never use writing on any kind or an organisation’s seal
- Be Distinctive or Be Related. Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections
The flag definitely fails on the first rule. There are too many details on the flag for it to be easy to draw, yet it still comes off as comical.
It does have symbolism, but these symbols are no longer relevant to Melbourne. Although those industries do exist, Melbourne has evolved beyond those and thus should be represented by something that features that same level of evolution.
The flag breaks the third rule, having 6 basic colours.
It doesn’t break the fourth rule strictly, but the royal crown is a symbol used by the royal family and is thus not as befitting to the Melbourne Flag.
Finally, the flag is distinctive, but not in a good way, and it relates so heavily to pre-federation Australia that it doesn’t properly represent the city.