Guiding Principles of Flag Design
(Joint Commission Report 2014)

The Guiding Principles of Flag Design – NAVA and UK’s Flag Institute Collaboration on Flag Design

The North American Vexillological Association promotes standards of good flag design in North America. Some of these standards are reflected in the “The Guiding Principles of Flag Design,” a report of the Joint Commission on Vexillographic Principles, which was created as part of a Joint Agreement signed on May 16, 2014 by the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) and The Flag Institute (United Kingdom).

Download the report.

The Principles were based on the following understandings. First, the Institute and NAVA as Members of the Fédération internationale des associations vexillologiques (FIAV) accepted the definition of vexillology in FIAV Constitution article 2, which is “the creation and development of a body of knowledge about flags of all types, their forms and functions, and of scientific theories and principles based on that knowledge.” Second, the Institute and NAVA recognized that vexillolography, which is the art and practice of designing flags, is allied with vexillology, but is not synonymous with that discipline. The Institute and NAVA further recognized that while vexillography may embrace aesthetic values, vexillology does not. The Institute and NAVA agreed that to a vexillologist there are no bad flags, only flags to be studied; accordingly, the Principles are not be regarded as vexillological principles.

In May 2014, The Flag Institute and NAVA agreed to work together to adopt common vexillographic principles. To draft the Principles, the Institute and NAVA each appointed two commissioners, and these four commissioners then recommended a fifth commissioner. After approval by the presiding officers of the Institute (Charles Ashburner FFI, chief executive) and NAVA (Hugh Brady FF, president), the commission elected a chairman and consisted of the following: Graham M.P. Bartram FFI, chairman; Edward B. Kaye; Jason Saber; Charles A. Spain WSF; and Philip S. Tibbets.


The Commission’s report, submitted October 1, 2014, was then accepted by the two current presiding officers and adopted by both the Institute and NAVA. Accordingly, the Principles then officially became policy statements of both The Flag Institute and the North American Vexillological Association<!-–Association nord-américaine de vexillology–>. It was also agreed the Principles could be modified or expanded in the future by the establishment of a new commission, on terms mutually agreeable to the Institute and the Association.

Previously-published materials are available in the NAVA Digital Library.