Every US state has a flag. But only a few states have an icon—something immediately recognizable (and ideally, easily drawn and memorable).
For an example of icons, we can look at Japan’s provinces (or “prefectures”), nearly all of which are represented by a distinctive single-color icon (Figure 1).
The proposal is as follows:
- Every state will get a supplementary icon, that can be easily rendered in a quick pen sketch (Figure 4).
- When possible, the flag and emblem should be similar, to make them easier to remember.
- A flag and an icon have different requirements. Some guidelines:
- A flag should be visually distinctive even when on a draped piece of cloth. For example, the American flag (🇺🇸) is easily identified even when there is no wind.
- A flag can make use of multiple colors (although there is such a thing as “too many” colors).
- An icon should minimize or eliminate reliance on specific colors.
- An icon should have relatively few fine details. It should be distinctive even at a very small size.
There is also no icon that represents the United States (although “USA“ works as an easily-written shorthand). Figures 6 and 7 investigate some elements that could be incorporated into a flag-inspired icon.
Fig. 6: If someone only had 5 seconds to draw an American flag, they’d probably some up with something similar to these graffiti-like icons on the left. Isolating the iconic elements of the American flag leaves us with a number of possible emblems in varying levels of detail (right). The bottom-right one also indicates how the Chinese / Japanese character for “above” coincidentally appears in the negative space: this might be useful in a U.S.A.-and-China-centered science fiction future like the one in Firefly.
Below (Figure 7) is a column of state flags (left) and some potential icons (right). The color is arbitrary—it can be omitted or changed to any other color (as in the Japanese example in Figure 1).
You should come up with some icon suggestions of your own, and propose them to your state government. They love sponsoring things like state birds, state flowers, and state songs, so why not a state emblem? California even has a state lichen and state dinosaur!
PROS: Would provide the option for people to promote their state with an easily-recognized emblem.
CONS: Could increase intra-state rivalry if people become attached to their own state’s amazing icon.