What a Flag Represents for a State
A new state flag is coming to Utah and we at Summit Events could not be more excited!
A strong state flag has the potential to bring people together, to foster a sense of community and shared state pride.
When well-designed, a state flag also serves as a powerful branding tool. It has the power to capture the essence of the state while delivering brand recognition to those both inside and outside of it.
Earlier this month, in a historic vote, the Utah legislature officially approved the flag redesign. Which is fondly referred to as the “Beehive Flag.” The legislation (SB 31) is on its way to the Governor’s desk for final approval before the flag will start flying early next year.
When the new flag flies, Utah’s historic flag will be retired. Save for state holidays where it will be flown alongside the Beehive Flag.
As the rollout continues, we wanted to explore what a brand-spanking-new flag means for our state. And how it supports Summit Events’ vision of elevating client experience through a shared love of Utah’s best-kept secrets and all our beautiful state has to offer.
Ever Wonder How a State Rolls Out a New Flag?
Thanks to More Than a Flag (which is managed by the Utah Department of Cultural & Community Engagement) we’ve got the full timeline of events for you! From the initial announcement through the final design approval.
Perhaps the most important part of this entire process is how inclusive it’s been for residents. Utahans were consulted from the very beginning. Citizens played a huge part in everything from the potential of a new flag to the redesign and the final selection.
Because of this inclusive process, the new Beehive Flag truly represents Utahans everywhere.
The Timeline – Unveiling Utah’s New Flag from Start to Finish
It takes quite a bit of time to replace an existing state flag. It all starts as an idea, like anything else.
The first step is to propose the change to residents. From there the creative process begins. And then the legislative process. As you can see from the timeline below, this change has been in the works for over a year.
But nothing good comes from rushing. Dare we say, the new Beehive Flag lives up to the time it took to create the new design. At Summit Events we are passionate about the potential this new flag holds for tourism and events in Utah.
The process, the unveiling, and the next steps are all a part of our state’s journey to a new flag.
Let’s dive into the steps that got us here.
The initial survey.
Interviews with 777 Utahans began in November and continued through December 12, 2021. Residents were surveyed across counties with a whopping 30% of participants having lived in Utah for over 40 years. And 70% residing here for at least 20 years.
What did the survey find was most important to Utahans?
History and Culture.
Both stood out as the most valuable characteristics of our state, with Recreation and a Sense of Community following close behind.
While the majority of Utahans felt the historic flag represented our state well, they didn’t feel the flag represented them personally.
Our new Beehive Flag sets out to do just that. To give all Utah residents a sense of pride and belonging whenever and wherever they see the flag flying.
Utah’s first-ever More Than A Flag Day was announced on January 19, 2022, by Governor Spencer J. Cox. With this announcement, came a state-wide initiative and invitation for flag designs from Utahans everywhere.
The creative process begins.
In April, toolkits arrived at public municipalities around the state. These toolkits provided Utah citizens with guides, resources and anything else they might need to create their very own flag designs.
April 30th marked the deadline for submissions.
The tally? Over 7,000 designs were received by the Utah Department of Cultural & Community Engagement. That’s a pretty spectacular show of community support if we do say so ourselves.
In May, professional designers came on board. Tasked with delivering up to five designs each, these professionals drew inspiration from public survey results.
Survey respondents had been given a list of 19 of Utah’s state symbols. These included everything from the state animal (Rocky Mountain elk) to the state mineral (copper).
When asked which symbols best represented our shared identity, the standouts were clear.
- Beehive – our state emblem
- Skiing and snowboarding – our state winter sports
- Honey bee – our state insect
- Rocky Mountain elk – our state animal
Each of these symbols was used in numerous designs throughout the creative process. And as the name the Beehive Flag suggests, one of the standouts was seamlessly incorporated into the final design.
The Utah State Flag Task Force consulted with six different subcommittees during the review process.
During the months of June, July and August, the Design Review Subcommittee narrowed down thousands of potential designs to just 20.
How did they do it?
More Than a Flag tells us that “similar submissions were combined, and then refined by designers paired with experienced flag artists, known as vexillologists.”
Yes, vexillologists. We promise it’s a real word, a real job, and an incredibly valuable position in the design process. Without them, we wouldn’t have the iconic Beehive flag design.
The steps to approval begin.
In September, all twenty of the semi-finalist flag designs were released and posted for public feedback.
The response received was tremendous! More than 11,000 residents responded and engaged with the post in the first week alone. Throughout the entire process, Utah recorded over 44,000 survey responses from engaged residents.
Late Fall 2022
October 5th marked the last day for public feedback.
Throughout the late fall months, the Design Review Subcommittee met to take into account all public comments and feedback on the 20 semi-finalist designs and to make a final selection.
During this time, professional designers had the liberty to refine the colors and symbols of the final contenders. From there, three to five flag designs made their way to the Utah State Flag Task Force.
Winter marked the selection and proposal of the final flag design. A vote on November 10, 2022, sent the Beehive Flag to the Utah state legislature.
We’ve got to give a huge thank you and shoutout to the State Flag Task Force for selecting the final design out of 7,000 contenders!
In a historic moment, the Beehive Flag was officially approved by Utah’s Legislature earlier this month on March 2, 2023.
After the vote, the State Flag Amendment (SB 31) made its way to Governor Cox for final approval.
Now that the flag design has been approved there is a waiting period. The bill takes effect (and the new flag officially begins flying) on March 9, 2024.
What Makes a Great Flag?
Each state flag has its own distinct features to promote the mission, identity, and culture of the state. The Beehive Flag is no different and every symbol, color and aspect of the design was placed there with intention and purpose.
Good Flag, Bad Flag, a guide compiled from the wisdom of over 20 vexillologists and translated into seven different languages, outlines the five elements of an excellent flag:
- Keep It Simple: You want a flag to be simple enough that anyone could draw it from memory.
- Use Meaningful Symbolism: State symbolism should be woven throughout the design of the flag. In everything from its colors to its images.
- Use 2 or 3 Basic Colors: This one is self-explanatory and part of the “can we draw this from memory” simplicity. Two to three contrasting colors help the flag stand out while staying simple.
- No Lettering or Seals: Vexillologists say it best, never use writing (of any kind) or an organization’s seal.
- Be Distinctive or Be Related: The flag can have nods to our national flag or to other states. But, in its entirety, any state flag should be distinctive. It should stand out from others.
How does Utah’s longstanding historic flag stand up? And how is the new Beehive Flag a stronger contender?
Let’s break it down.
The Historic Flag
Now known as the “historic” flag, Utah’s state flag represented us well for many years. But it didn’t meet all five “good flag” characteristics.
As you can see, it fails the test in these areas:
- It has more than three colors.
- Has a complicated design that, unfortunately, not one of us could successfully and artistically draw from memory.
- It violates the important rule of no lettering and seals. The words on the flag cannot be clearly read at a distance so they only hinder the design instead of adding value to it.
The Beehive Flag
Our new flag, on the other hand, stands up much better against the five rules for any great flag. Here are the components as outlined by More Than a Flag:
- The flag’s foundation is a deep blue. A color chosen to represent Utah’s beautiful lakes and wide open skies. The color blue also represents tradition, knowledge, optimism and freedom.
- The beehive, the most prominent symbol, is positioned in the center. The beehive embodies community. It represents both our state’s history and also our state’s slogan – “Industry.”
- The hexagon stands for unity and strength. It encircles the beehive in the same golden hue.
- Utah’s snowy mountains are represented by the white peaks behind the hive. They are a recognition of our state’s eight tribal nations and an acknowledgment of our Indigenous people.
- Southern Utah’s red rock canyons bring people from all over the world to our state every year. Promotion of tourism and beauty, the canyon valley is represented at the bottom of the flag.
- A white star sits at the foundation of the beehive. This star is representative of the year 1896 when Utah officially became a state. It stands for hope and the strength of all Utahans.
As you can see, the new flag hits upon all five pillars.
It is both distinctive and related. The red, white and blue colors are a nod to our country and to freedom. The distinctive beehive gold is a standout representation of our state emblem.
It is simple enough to be drawn from memory yet is filled with symbolism and state pride.
We are deeply excited for such a stand-out flag to represent our state!
Why? Well, you may not expect it, but a flag is an important branding tool. In the events space, we are looking forward to the branding and retail elements that come with the new Beehive Flag and are excited to see how it encourages and uplifts tourism.
A State Flag as a Powerful Branding Tool
A flag that embodies a state’s growth has the power to attract people and entities that contribute towards said growth and future-forward ideals. A state flag helps to refine a state’s brand recognition to attract top companies and talent. And if done well, stimulates the economy.
We look to Colorado as an example. Their new state brand was unveiled in 2013, with strong flag recognition existing before that.
Because a flag is public domain, it increases brand recognition as it’s displayed by retailers, or on merchandise. In other words, it can be used by anyone at any time. So the more that flag colors and symbols are incorporated into state branding, the bigger its effect on economic growth.
With strong flag pride that impact can be huge.
Think of the flag logo appearing everywhere. Printed on everything from shirts, cakes and other memorabilia. This influences how a state is seen and regarded by the public.
Colorado in particular has incorporated its flag design elements into things like their state highway markers and major league soccer team uniforms. As people travel throughout the state or see its colors mirrored on sports players as they tour the country, people recognize Colorado. And think of its industry and nature as the perfect backdrop for their events.
Businesswire explains, Colorado’s “reputation has an impact on how people think about and respond to our state. A brand that embodies our state’s upward momentum will help Colorado attract top talent, quality companies, and jobs.”
Utah’s new Beehive Flag seeks to do the same. As brand recognition of our new flag grows (remember the mark of any great flag is in its simplicity and ability to be recreated from memory) recognition of Utah as a pioneer in the events industry does as well.
We are hopeful that this new flag brings positive change to our state and will bolster the tourism and events spaces.
Utah’s Bright Future Under the Beehive Flag
At Summit Events we see a bright future for our beloved state. As more and more companies recognize the value that Utah has to offer, our event industry grows.
Utah is set apart by its national parks, world-class mountain biking and skiing, and stunning cultural history. With the new flag officially approved, we can’t wait to see how the brand recognition will elevate our already-spectacular state.
We look forward to promoting our extensive local knowledge and expertise to companies and events on a larger national scale. We know our clients will fall in love with all of our state’s best-kept secrets and destinations. Just like we have.
Interested in working with Summit Events as Utah’s industry expands? Submit a Request for Proposal and we’ll be in touch!