A new flag for Britain

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If Scotland leaves today, we’ve got some new flag designs ready.

We love the UK flag. Let’s face it, it’s great. The original design was a bold symbol of a progressive United Kingdom. When it was new, it broke traditional flag conventions and reflected Britain’s awesome attitude. But the design has a flaw—the Union Jack is based on all of the flags coming together (although for some reason the poor Welsh were left off)… so what happens if Scotland pack their bagpipes and go? Well you might have seen some new design proposals that have begun popping up around the internet:

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These flag designs seem to be flying at half mast. Most of them simply remove the St Andrew’s cross, leaving a red and white flag and a constant reminder of the day Scotland left. So we’ve taken it on ourselves to create a new flag. A celebration of everything that is great about Britain and a flag that is designed for the future.


We approached the challenge in a few ways:

Weather responsive flag
Similar to the physical version that flaps in the wind, our new flag responds to the British weather.

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Patchwork flag
The old flag was designed as a two-colour solution because of reproduction constraints. What if we use different colours and materials to create a flag that represents the different people and communities that make up Britain? Plastic, gold and new threads are woven into the design. Some of the colours have been taken from the Royal Standard.

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Designer flag
The UK is full of brilliant designers. Let’s collaborate with Peter Saville or Paul Smith to design an iconic flag.

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Please note, these have not been designed by Peter or Paul—they are nasty ripoffs.


3D flag
Who needs a flag anyway? The Romans had a golden eagle on a pole and they ran the world for 500 years. What about a 3D flag based on the angles proposed in the original Union Jack? Imagine our victorious athletes holding aloft Britain’s orb.

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Internet flag

What about all those little flags that are flown across the internet? We need a flag that has been optimised for a new digital context. Our animated gif flag symbolises Britain as the meeting place for people from anywhere in the digital and physical realm.

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Cool flag

And what about a flag that is just cool.

Pink = Northern Ireland
Green= Wales
Red= England

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Serious flag
Okay… so we’ve had some fun with this brief. But seriously… the original flag is mega cool and it also appears in the corner of loads of other countries flags (like Australia). And it’s a really great brand – blue, red and white triangles have become a defining graphic language of Britain. So with that in mind we propose this flag.

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It’s a simplified version of the original that removes the crosses and keeps the iconic elements - a central focus, angles and colours. It’s easier to draw and it looks great.

As much as we’d love to see one of these little beauties flying out in the world – Scotland, as you cast your vote today just remember what affect your vote could have on that lovely Union Jack.

By Campbell Butler and Fleur Isbell
(with some lovely animations from Richard Coldicott, 3D printing from Franc Falco and anecdotal knowledge from Ben Gibbs)

Visual Identity —-> Visual Ecosystem

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By Campbell Butler  

We’re currently in the middle of an intense process of experimentation, creative strategy, illustration, photography, claymation, motion graphics, prototyping and crazy tech. It’s what is technically called the ‘visual identity phase’ of work but I’ve got a feeling that name isn’t quite right anymore…

I love visual identity. In my first year of uni I got a buzz designing a system of parts and I dreamt of getting my graphics on the tail of a plane like the design heroes of a different time. Back then, my starting point was always the logo. I spent serious time crafting a single compelling marque and an exciting super graphic and then applying it to stationery, signage, brochures and later websites and animations. This process works. But as the number and type of interactions we need to design for increases, the visual identity is reduced to a tiny logo on the edge of a website, with no visual relationship to the other elements.

I’ve flipped the process now. For me, it’s better to start with the touch points where the identity needs to live and look at how the entire identity can behave and respond in those environments. I try and think of all of the elements at once – grids, type, icons, backgrounds, imagery and how all of those parts can live together in a visual ecosystem.

Elements respond with interaction.

Elements relate to each other.

Elements adapt to their environment.

A living system that evolves over time. It lives and breathes and responds to people. It can be touched and dragged and sung to. I’m no longer crafting shapes but designing behaviours.

The benefit of designing in this way, is that when people interact with the brand there is an organic connection between the brand and the experience. The elements are recognisable, interactions feel alive and the experience is seamless. And when it comes to designing the logo, it basically forms itself as an obvious conclusion to an ecosystem of elements.

The name visual identity doesn’t feel quite right any more… do we need a new name?

Campbell Butler is a Design Director at Wolff Olins London.  

How design thinking finds new answers

By Campbell Butler

The other day I sat in a brainstorm with a bunch of fellow graphic designers, discussing the future direction of an international business. Someone in the team made a flippant joke about the moment: Most of us had gone to art school, not business school. 

As designers we sometimes worry about engaging in the “business side” of things. But today’s businesses are desperate to find experimental and creative solutions and designers are just the problem-solvers they need. We’ve been trained to take a brief, assess the problem, instinctively create different directions, analyse the positives and negatives, reject one, create another, see what works, see what doesn’t.

We can rapidly create visual concepts that test how products, communications, experiences and interfaces can work together. And we can test multiple directions. It allows businesses to take risks they couldn’t imagine, because they can see tangible possibilities. That, is business prototyping.

There’s an opportunity now as designers to get beneath the veneer of subjective aesthetics and establish design, and design thinking, at the heart of tomorrow’s businesses – an opportunity we should grab with both hands.

So, am I a graphic designer anymore?

Campbell Butler is a Senior Designer at Wolff Olins.

Illustration by James Kape.