Throughout history, flags have been used for many different purposes and, as times have changed, these purposes have evolved as well. Primarily, flags have been designated for identification and communication between countries, cities, provinces, and other geographical locations. However, as the world has become more globalized and business-oriented, you are just as likely to see a business’s logo on a flag as you are to see a more traditional, national symbol. Company logos are popping up more and more on flags, as people are seeing how convenient and effective of a messenger a flag is. In this article, we’ll discuss the use of flags throughout history, ending in their persity and multipurpose usage in today’s time.
The First Flags
The first use of flags dates back thousands of years, to the times of ancient warfare where flags were field signs. These flags, such as the dragon symbol of early Sarmatia, or the eagle of the Roman legions during Augustus Caesar’s reign, were used to herald the advancement of an opposing army. During the High Middle Ages, flags were painted onto the shields of knights to signify which battalion they belonged to. City states also began to use flags to represent themselves in warfare, adopting this trend in the Late Middle Ages. One of the earliest flags ever discovered was a bronze standard found in Iran. Archaeologists believe it can be dated back to the third millennium B.C.
Flags for Nationalistic Purposes
While the first flags were primarily used for military and naval purposes, as time went on, flags became more nationalistic in nature. One of the oldest flags to date is the Scottish flag, which is almost five hundred years old. It is known as the “Saltire,” a word which means “a cross with diagonal bars of equal length.” The white Scottish Saltire, also known as St. Andrew’s Cross, rests against a light-blue background (the background was red during its early years). It was first raised in 1512, but St. Andrew’s Cross actually can be traced back to the thirteen and fourteenth centuries. In fact, the Saltire itself became the badge of the Scots back in 1388.
The American flag, the great symbol of our country, looked very different back in 1777 than it does today. After the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Congress waited a year before legally adopting a starred-and-striped flag. The red, white, and blue colors were known as the “Continental Colors,” and the British believed at the time that it was inspired by the East India Trading Company, something the Americans vehemently denied. As more states were added to the Union, the flag expanded into the fifty stars, seven red stripes, and six white stripes that we see today. The current version of the flag was completed on July 4, 1960.
The Evolution of Flags
After years of nationalism, there emerged more creative ways to utilize flags. Throughout the years, flags have been used for the same general purpose: communication and identification. The object of the identification has grown less rigid and narrowed than it was previously. Causes such as the LGBTQ movement flag (rainbow), the Black Liberation flag (red, black, and green in three horizontal stripes), the American Indian movement, and environmentalism have all been represented through flags. The purpose of flags has evolved to encompass not just tangible, demarcated countries and states—it has broadened to represent ideas and concepts.
Applying this primary idea of communication and identification to your company is best accomplished through the use of a flag. Much like the causes, countries, and movements that find their symbol represented on a custom flag, your business can utilize that same idea. Company logos themselves are signifiers of a business’s meaning; putting the logo on a flag helps enhance the visibility of your brand.