Flags are interesting, they are a simple graphical device
that represent a whole nation. Naturally, flags become
entwined with a nation's global reputation and cultural
influence so that they are symbols, icons, brands, and
logos all at once. This is powerfully demonstrated when
burn a flag as a gesture of anger toward a
nation, or when a popular uprising replaces a flag to
indicate the end of one regime and the start of a new
Similarly, when one nation defeats another, often raising
the victor's flag is the chosen gesture to indicate military
As they stand, however, flags are not perfect. The Italian
flag, for example, is in clear contravention of good visual
design principles. Because of the poor use of red and
green, 10% of men who are red/green colorblind might
accidentally book a flight to Italy instead of Nigeria.
also lack any sense of history, with the exception that
older more established countries get to choose good
designs while the latecomers get the leftovers*. I
an improved system to make the flag something of a
So, to encode history I suggest that major events be
included in the color and pattern of the flag. An instance
of a major event would be the conquest of one nation-
state by another. To demonstrate, I'll work through a
couple of examples. Take the UK, the bulk of the land
mass has been successfully conquered by Vikings and
Normans, while there might be arguments about whether
the Normans were French or in fact just a sort of Viking
franchise, the outcome is the same. The British flag must
incorporate red, white and blue as derived from the
Norwegian&Danish/French flags. This is just fine and no
changes are required to the Union Jack.
The French flag is different, multiple successful invasions
by Britain would mandate the inclusion of red, white,
blue into the flag, obviously no change there. However,
some change is mandated, so I propose that color is
followed by shape change, so the French flag should
incorporate cross motifs. France has also been invaded
Germany and the USA, consequently, those features
also be included. The resulting French flag would be a
of muddled stripey brown tartan. Belgium and Italy
show subtle differences but an overwhelmingly similar
brown tartan theme reflecting their shared history.
Scotland would have to incorporate a red cross to reflect
English victories, it might look a lot like this [link].
Such a system might foster robust national defense, or
perhaps discourage the sort of activities that force
international coalitions to invade.
* possible mitigation for the Italian debacle.