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The striking simplicity of city flags that the people embrace such as Chicago. The striking simplicity of city flags that the people embrace such as Chicago. Featured
10 September 2016 Posted by 


And its own flag like Chicago 

By Jonathon Flegg

WITH the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) now in place, have we reached the moment to invent a new brand for Sydney?

The GSC, Sydney’s first body that co-ordinates planning across the whole city, states that Sydney is a “city of ambition and we need to match this ambition with boldness.”

In the spirit of our iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge, a new city brand for Sydney, created and adopted by the people, could be exactly what we need to rekindle both our city’s boldness and ambition for a new generation.

The forces of globalisation and receding national economic borders have meant that international competition is increasingly between great cities rather than great nations.

The time has come for all areas of Sydney to claim their status as part of a global city, not just the suburbs around the dazzling harbour and beaches.

One of the great tragedies of the global trend towards urbanisation and densification is that whilst people are living physically closer than ever before their feeling of social disconnection is similarly on the increase.

Democratically designing Sydney’s city brand would be an endeavour that goes beyond the symbolic in addressing this disconnect.

On one level it would heighten a sense of belonging and public ownership, and on another it would stoke more active civic participation and social capital amongst Sydneysiders.

Innovative city branding also speaks to our global audience, including all potential investors, start-up entrepreneurs, skilled workers and discerning tourists.

The emotional connection individuals build with a brand designed by its citizens, if done well, can speak volumes about how attractive our patch is to others.

International design expert Roman Mars makes the case for why a well-designed city flag could be the ultimate piece of branding for an international city and the most potent symbol of its transformation:

“As we move more and more into cities, the city flag will become not just a symbol of that city as a place, but also it could become a symbol of how that city considers design itself. Especially today as the populace is becoming more design-aware and I think design-awareness is at an all-time high. A well-designed flag can be seen as an indicator of how a city considers all of its design systems: its public transit, its parks, its signage.”

Many of the great metropolises of the world, such as Chicago, Amsterdam and Tokyo, are represented by great and surprisingly simple flags. Designed, sustained and adapted by the people, a city flag is an unquestionably democratic exercise.

As such, these flags have become much more than a symbol of a city’s administration. They represent the people as an organic, living whole.

A flag is a visual representation of a city’s positive values, civic pride, social cohesiveness and overall attractiveness and can play a key role in an overall citizen brand.

Cities are the engines of growth in the 21st century, recently reflected in Australia with the establishment of a national Cities Agenda, something we haven’t had since the 1970s.

Central to driving this growth is the concept of ‘place making’ – rethinking the traditionally rigid urban environment so that our city’s systems can truly operate as a living ecosystem.

Great design and putting the citizens first, whether when thinking about a new citizen brand or an urban rejuvenation program, lie at the heart of each exercise.

Jonathon Flegg is Associate Director at Deloitte Access Economics.



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