When Jacob Johnson, one of the organizers of the Tulsa flag community rebranding project, noticed that the city flag of Tulsa was used as an example of a bad flag design in a Ted Talk presentation, he requested opinions and suggestions. The flag was a simple seal of the city on a white background, which isn’t a very imaginative branding tool.

A group of bad flags

In a popular presentation about the study of flags, podcast host Roman Mars included the city flag of Tulsa in a group of “bad flags” that needed to be stopped. His TED Talk, “Why city flags may be the worst-design thing you’ve never noticed," triggered a nationwide call for submissions of better flag designs.

According to the Tulsa World, some Tulsans weren’t even aware that the city had a flag. Mars said in his talk that the municipal seals were designed to be on pieces of paper where you could read them, not on flags 100 feet away, flapping in the breeze.

The Tulsa Flag initiative

Jacob Johnson and Joey Wignarajah, the two concerned citizens that started the Tulsa Flag initiative, requested that the City Council allowed them to go ahead with their social media campaign plan to redesign the flag. The website tulsaflag.com was quickly set up for the initiative in November 2016. The website then asked that residents come up with a better design for the flag and linked a 2015 TED Talk given by Mars in the announcement, because apparently Tusla’s current flag violated most of the highlighted principles of a good flag design, or vexillology.

Johnson wanted something that could become part of the city’s culture, to be included in everything from stickers to T-shirts.

Flag adoption process

During the design selection period from February to March, an independent panel of seven members began narrowing down more than 400 design entries collected from December last year to only three top designs.

These panel members included a select group of creatives, historians, academics and entrepreneurs from the community, who were not part of the general process. The panel decides on flags that are considered important for the community, beautiful flags, memorable ones, and designs that are unique before coming up with the three best designs.

After the three are announced to the public, the flag adoption process will begin. The Tulsan community is currently in the process of voting for the best of the three designs, to be revealed on April 26, and the winner will be announced this coming June at the launch party.