The Design Brief


The Australian Flag Professional Design
Competition and Exhibition

The most important design issue to face our nation.


1. The Australian Flag Competition

2. The Task And Design Issues

3. Conditions Of Entry

4. Documents Enclosed

5. Glossary Of Vexillological Terms

6. Examples Of Well-Known Flags

7. Promoters, Sponsors, Advisers And Facilitators

Ausflag Limited ?© July 1997
ACN 008 581 191
GPO Box 511 Sydney NSW 2001
Fax: (02) 9241 2882 Phone: (02) 9241 2860
Internet Address:


The Australian flag competition

1.1  The flag of a nation is its chief symbol. It expresses simply and in dramatic form much of what the government and people it represents wish to convey about their identity.
1.2  Although our present flag has served its purpose well, many Australians now believe that Australia needs a new flag - irrespective of whatever constitutional changes may occur.
1.3  This brief is a challenge to Australia′s professional designers to design flag that represents and unites all Australians.

Designers are invited to respond to the brief in accordance with the terms and conditions set out below.


The task and design issues

2.1  The task
2.1.1  The task is to produce a design which expresses the specific aims of a flag as a rectangular artefact and reflecting, most importantly:
  • Australian identity
  • distinctiveness among the world′s national flags
  • simplicity
  • clarity of colour
  • a design which will not date
  • the rules of heraldry as they apply to form and colour
  • ease and cost of manufacture
  • respect for the history, institutions, and character of Australians
  • a united Australia
2.1.2  This may be achieved from a new design, or through further conceptual evolution of an existing design which meets the criteria above. The design should be suited to a wide range of applications, including lapel pins, printed uses and decorations, but above all it should work as the traditional fabric and mobile object that a flag is.
2.2  Design issues
2.2.1  Australia′s flag should be clearly identifiable and easily distinguishable from others, and entrants should refer to a chart of the world′s flags.
2.2.2  It should not be cluttered or abstruse in design.
2.2.3  The flag should still be readily identifiable when
  • in movement,
  • at rest, draped from a pole with the design partly enfolded,
  • floodlit,
  • partly obscured.
2.2.4  The design should not be compromised when the flag is in motion, for an effective flag is more than a flat graphic. Flags can change in their impact dramatically when transposed from paper to cloth.
2.2.5  Most flags today are screen printed. Flags depend on the conventions of heraldry for clarity, and these conventions generally preclude complicated and amorphous devices such as maps which appear incorrectly on the reverse. Devices such as animals or birds should face the flagpole to be consistent with display in march past and processions.
2.2.6  The design should be readily identifiable to the unaided eye from a reasonable distance.
2.2.7  It should be capable of reduction (eg to postage stamp size) and to enlargement without losing identity.
2.2.8  The design should be distinct from corporate logos.
2.2.9  The design, colour and shape should contribute to the dignity required for solemn or grand occasions of state, but lend itself also to pride in festivity and celebration.
2.2.10  The design should be suited to display as a vertical banner, upon a coffin (eg state funerals), or as an emblem carried in procession by national sporting teams.
2.2.11  The design must be easily reproduced. Colours chosen should be defined and matched according to the Pantone Matching System (PMS) - uncoated (matt).


Conditions of entry

3.1 The competition has four phases
3.1.1  The first phase will allow for the selection by the Assessment Panel of the best 100 designs.
3.1.2  The second phase shall be the exhibition nationally of the best 100 designs.
3.1.3  In the third phase, after the opening of the exhibition and concurrent with it, the Assessment Panel will further assess the best 100 designs, making their final decisions as to the winner(s) of this competition, allowing in the process for consultation with the authors as may be required.
3.1.4  The fourth phase is that in which the Assessment Panel announces the winner(s) of this competition.
3.1.5  Ausflag will then use its best endeavours to promote a winning design to the Australian Government as Ausflag′s preferred design for the new Australian flag, taking note of the Assessment Panel′s recommendations in the event of the Government choosing to proceed with that design, and encouraging the Government to reward the winner in an appropriate way.
3.1.6  The decisions of the Assessment Panel are final and will be published.
3.1.7  The best 100 as selected by the Assessment Panel are to be displayed in Galleries across Australia in 1998 and at Sydney Design 99.
3.1.8  Entry is not open to the Directors and employees of Ausflag, members of the Assessment Panel, directors and employees of the sponsors Apple Computer Australia Pty Ltd, Fuji Xerox Australia Pty Ltd and Salmat Pty Ltd, or their immediate families
3.1.9  Entry is restricted to members of the following Professional Design Organisations - Design Institute of Australia (DIA), Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA), Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA), Australian Writers and Art Directors (AWARD), Society of Interior Designers of Australia (SIDA), Australian Textile Design Association (ATDA) and the Flag Society of Australia (FSA).
3.1.10  The Executive Director of Ausflag has sole discretion to invite other professional designers outside these organisations to participate in the competition.
3.1.11  All entrants must be Australian citizens, and have applied for the design brief and paid the design brief fee.
3.1.12  Entries must be the exclusive work of the entrant(s). Shared creative development must be acknowledged consistently.
3.1.13  Entries will not be returned, and may be archived or destroyed at the discretion of Ausflag.
3.2 Assessment panel
3.2.1  The 7 members of the Assessment Panel shall all be Australian citizens, (of whom at least 4 shall be professional graphic designers, nominated by the Professional Design Organisations), and shall include:
  • A person well versed in vexillology and flag heraldry;
  • A professional designer with experience in aspects of national identity;
  • A professional designer with an appreciation of textile design;
  • An architect or designer cognisant with flag display in public places and buildings;
  • A representative of Ausflag Ltd.
3.2.2  The process of assessment will be guided, but not necessarily bound, by the internationally accepted Rules of the International Council of Graphic Design Associations (ICOGRADA) to ensure impartiality, anonymity, and fairness, but amended as may be required, specifically for the purpose of designing and choosing a flag.
3.3 Presentation of entries
3.3.1  Any design presented in a manner that indicates in any way the identity of its author prior to judgement may be disqualified.
3.3.2  Each design is to be presented as coloured flat artwork in two dimensions.
3.3.3  Each design is to be centred in landscape (not portrait), A4 format and mounted on white or light grey board, (eg Canson-Mi Teinte Pearl Grey), and the entry coded precisely in the manner explained in paragraph 3.4.3
3.3.4  Entries may carry affixed to the reverse,
  • notes as to the symbolism of the design, in not more than 25 words, in typeface;
  • Colour references specified from the Pantone Matching System (PMS) - uncoated, matt.
3.3.5  Designs are to be expressed in solid colour, and displayed horizontally with the flag mast at viewer′s left. No transparencies or videos are required, but presentation as WMF, BMP or CGM computer graphics according to the template below is encouraged.
Presentation of designs on disk should be formatted for either Macintosh or DOS, and within the following range of graphics format options:
Vector *.EPS Encapsulated Postscript (also AI)
Vector *.WMF Microsoft Windows Metafile
Vector *.CGM Computer Graphics Metafile
Vector *.PCT Macintosh PICT format
Bitmap *.BMP Microsoft Windows Device Independent Bitmap
Bitmap *.TIF Tag Image File Format (TIFF)
Bitmap *.PCX PC Macintosh
3.3.6  Flags of 1:2 proportions are often standardised to 2:3 (eg at the United Nations), but designs might also be tendered in proportions 5:8 - close to the Golden Mean. Whatever the proportions chosen by the designer, the design must be 100mm in height, as in the diagram below:
3.4  Consignment of entries
3.4.1  Each entrant will be responsible for ensuring that their entry does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any other person;
3.4.2  Each entrant may submit no more than 5 designs (which may be separate, distinct designs or variations of colour or design detail);
3.4.3  All entries are to be marked on the reverse by the entrant and in typeface, not by hand, with the same anonymous numeric code of five digits which appears on the Brief and Entry Form.
3.4.4  The completed Entry Form and separate Deed of Assignment of Copyright referred to in 3.6 must be sealed in an envelope marked on the outside only with the same five digit code number in typeface.
3.4.5  The sealed envelope together with the entry/s are to be posted at the risk of the entrant to arrive in good condition at GPO Box 511 SYDNEY 2001 no later than 5pm on 14 October 1997. Damaged entries risk disqualification.
3.5 Prizes
3.5.1  Prizes of Apple Macintosh and Fuji-Xerox products will be awarded to the winner(s) chosen by the Assessment Panel from among the best 100 entries.
3.6 Copyright and other intellectual property rights
Introductory Note
The recent Federal Court proceedings in relation to the Aboriginal Flag and legal action regarding the Sydney Olympics 2000 logo highlight the copyright problems involved in flag and graphic design generally.
While Ausflag appreciates that designers would wish to protect the integrity and ownership of their designs, this desire must be weighed against the importance to Ausflag of not being held to ransom by later claims of copyright infringement.
Ausflag is a voluntary, non-profit organisation, whose sole purpose is to identify the best design for a new Australian flag and promote its adoption by the Commonwealth Government. The only way Ausflag can ensure it has clear title to assign any design to the Commonwealth is by all entrants agreeing to the terms of the brief.
Ausflag warrants that it will assign copyright in any design required for a new Australian flag to the Commonwealth of Australia without fee
3.6.1  Each entry must be accompanied by the Deed of Assignment of Copyright referred to in clause 4.2, filled out by the entrant. A representation of the design(s) must be pasted on the space provided on page 2 of the Deed and the Deed must be signed by the entrant(s) and by the witness to the entrant′s signature.
3.6.2  If the Assessment Panel decides any particular design is worthy of further consideration but requires some alteration, any such alteration will be done in full consultation with the entrant and no variations will be made to a design without the entrant′s consent.
3.6.3  If an entrant does not agree to the changes suggested by the Assessment Panel, and no compromise can be reached, the Panel may, in its absolute discretion, withdraw the design from further consideration or continue to include it unaltered.
3.6.4  As stated in the deed, Ausflag will acknowledge an entrant′s right to attribution in their design(s) and will use its best endeavours to ensure that successors in title to the design will also acknowledge that attribution.


Documents Enclosed

4.1  Entry Form
4.2 Deed of Assignment of Copyright


Glossary of vexillological terms

Vexillology The study and science of flags and their symbolism. From Latin vexillum (standard) and Greek logos (knowledge).
Types Of Flags
Banner A flag elongated or displayed vertically - eg street decoration
Burgee Small triangular flag used mostly in yachting and as a signal flag
Ensign Properly a naval flag, but in practice, any national flag; a flag based on another.
Jack Flag flown at the foremast of a ship.
Pennant A long Burgee
Sonic Three dimensional flag, usually cylindrical and fitted with a rattle or whistle - used at the Battle of Hastings
Vexilloid A flag-like solid object, performing the function of a flag.
Vexillum Form of standard used in the armies of Rome, consisting of a cloth bearing an image or lettering, hung from a horizontal cross bar.
Windsock A cylindrical device often used as a vexilloid in East Asia (esp Japan)
Design Terms
Vexillography The art and science, principles of flag design, a specialised heritage of heraldry - as this has evolved from the Middle East and Europe, and in East Asia.
Canton The quarter of a flag, especially the viewer′s to left, the position of honour, and location of a major device
Colour Red, Blue, Green, Black, Royal Purple, Tenny (Orange), Black
Countercharging Repeating a device in mirror image, and in reverse colour
Counterchanging Reversing colours in different parts of the design
Device A symbol placed upon the background cloth of the flag
Dexter From Heraldry: The wearer′s right and therefore the viewer′s left
Fimbriation A narrow border separating two other Colours
Metal From Heraldry: Silver and Gold (that is, White and Yellow)
PMS Pantone (Colour) Matching System
Saltire An X-shaped cross appearing on such flags as Scotland, Burundi and Jamaica.
Sinister From Heraldry: The wearer′s left and therefore the viewer′s right
Manufacturing Terms
Canton Top left corner according to the viewer
Appliqué A technique used in flag making whereby design elements are sewn into their backing
Breadth From lower edge to top edge
Bunting Lightweight woollen cloth of coarse weave
Field The extent or area o the flag, its background colour
Fimbriation A narrow border separating two other colours
Fly The outer edge
Halyard Ropes keeping the flag to its mast
Hoist The vertical side of the flag along the mast
Ingflefield clip Metal clips at top and bottom hoist by which flag and halyards are attached
Length From hoist to outer edge


Examples of well-known flags


Promoters, Sponsors, Advisers And Facilitators


Ausflag Limited

Apple Computer Australia Pty Ltd
Fuji Xerox Australia Pty Ltd
Salmat Pty Ltd
Flash Graphics Pty Ltd
John Holland Group Ltd
Advisers And Facilitators

Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA)
Australian Textile Design Association (ATDA)
Australian Writers and Art Directors (AWARD)
Design Institute of Australia (DIA)
Flag Society of Australia (FSA)
Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA)
Society of Interior Designers of Australia (SIDA)
Copyright © Ausflag Ltd - Last update 25 January 1998 -
The Australian Professional Design Competition Rules and Guidelines
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