The Oklahoma City Flag in the News
July 29, 1994 — City Officials Anxious To Receive New Flags (The Oklahoman)
The Betsy Ross flag girls need to find their needles and thread and get busy.
They already are more than two weeks behind on their schedule to deliver a new Oklahoma City flag.
The Oklahoma City Council awarded the bid to produce city flags to the Betsy Ross Flag Girls Inc. in Dallas.
City spokeswoman Karen Farney said the city had hoped to receive one flag by now so it could be checked for accuracy.
"We are pretty anxious to get them," she said. "We need to make sure it is done right the first time, before we file orders to replace the ones on the flagpoles. " Helen Scott, a Betsy Ross representative in Oklahoma City, said the city should begin to receive the first flags soon.
"Our printers are through with them," Scott said.
The flag ordered by the city was designed by attorney Mark McFarland, 29, who donated his work to redesign the flag away from one the city has used since 1965.
The new flag is white with a City of Oklahoma City seal in its center.
Mayor Ron Norick and others have said the new flag is needed because Oklahoma City's current flag wasn't remarkable enough to be instantly recognized.
"At least people will be able to know who we are," Norick has said of the new flag. "They won't have to guess who we are. " As for how many flags eventually will be replaced, Farney said she doesn't know because it will be up to individual departments to order the flags they need.
City Hall, for example, will need at least three: one for the outside pole, one for the council chambers and one for the mayor's office, she said.
City officials were told initially it would take the company six weeks to produce the flags. For the standard 4-by-6 foot flag, the cost is about $145.
"And with a new flag, we expect more interest," she said. "We will be really excited to get them - when we do. "
Oklahoma City has a city flag.
As flags become powerful civic marketing tools, some high school students are suggesting Oklahoma City’s design could use an update.
John Bratt, who teaches classes including geography and Oklahoma history at Dove Science Academy, brought several of his students to this week’s city council meeting to share their ideas for a more eye-catching city standard.
Noting how the city has grown, Bratt said his main goal was “to get the conversation started.”
While “city pride is at an all-time high,” he said, the current flag — a version of the city seal on a white field with a red border — doesn’t measure up.
Oklahoma City’s flag finished 130th out of 150 city flags in an Internet poll sponsored by the North American Vexillological Association, which concerns itself with such matters.
Across the country, top-rated city flags are being transferred to fridge magnets, T-shirts, coffee mugs, postcards, even an iPhone case and men’s ties.
Des Moines, Iowa, put its flag on a lampshade.
NBA towns including Washington, D.C., Chicago, Denver, Phoenix and San Antonio all have popular designs.
In fact, Washington, Chicago and Denver finished 1-2-3 in the poll.
Even Wichita, Kan., has a popular design.
Why a flag?
The Vexillological Association says a flag’s purpose is, in part, to represent a place. It should be recognizable from a distance and capable of being reproduced “in quantity and in many sizes.”
No. 4 on the association’s list of dos and don’ts is “no lettering or seals,” Oklahoma City’s precise sin.
The city council adopted Oklahoma City’s current design in 1994.
That update replaced a design that featured in quadrants the four symbols — plow, hatchet and stake, pipe, and atom — from the city seal.
The updated design put the seal in the middle of a white field, enabling the addition of the words “The City Of Oklahoma City” surrounding a shield flanked with post oak leaves.
The students’ offerings were similarly anchored in symbols, with the city’s comeback from the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building a prominent feature of several.
Looking for momentum
Shea Hale and Juliana Lara featured the Survivor Tree at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, silhouetted in black against a field of blue sky and red earth.
“I think it represents Oklahoma City being able to survive tough times like the bombing, tornadoes and any tragedies that come,” Hale told the council.
Mayor Mick Cornett encouraged the students, saying theirs was “an idea worth discussing.”
In an interview Wednesday, the mayor noted how Chicago’s city flag has “become a standard in that community.”
Oklahoma City’s flag is no more than a placeholder, he said.
“In my opinion, we don’t really have a city flag today,” Cornett said.
He said civic leader and advertising executive Ray Ackerman suggested to him the idea of a new flag a few years back.
“Let’s see if the idea has any momentum,” Cornett said.
Building a brand
Oklahoma State University associate professor Kevin Voss said a highly recognizable design is central to promoting any product, be it insurance or civic pride.
Marketing experts would look for a natural object — such as the tree — to create a flag that’s easily recalled and, coupled with a marketing campaign, helps develop associations between symbol and city that are meaningful to people, said Voss, who teaches brand marketing at the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University.
Logo, flag, motto — all represent, he said, “who we are and what we think of ourselves.”
For Oklahoma City, Voss said, the conversation could begin with residents, their values and their thoughts, leading to a process that “connects with that in a meaningful way through design.”
“It starts with what the people of Oklahoma City think about their community,” he said.