Friday, April 12, 2024

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Elon town council debates design for new municipal flag

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Horizontal stripes aren’t merely a fashion faux pas for Elon’s elected leaders. They’re also an utter nonstarter as a design choice for the town’s official flag.

That, at least, was the takeaway from a town council meeting last Tuesday that included a lively, but inconclusive, debate about a proposed redesign of Elon’s municipal banner.

Prior to that evening’s meeting, members of Elon’s town staff had enlisted a graphic design firm called Expanding Eden to rework the town’s flag to match the aesthetic conceits of the town’s latest rebranding initiative. What came back from the studio was a set of nine mockups – all of which juxtaposed Elon’s town seal with four varicolored bars that resembled paint swatches or test patterns on an inverted TV.

[Story continues below graphic of flag designs.]

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During Tuesday’s discussion, the town’s staff explained that the graphic designer had intended these bands to serve as an embodiment of the town’s strategic plan. In fact, their hues – which ranged from forest green to teal, mint green, and gold – were supposed to correspond to the plan’s four planks. Yet, these cryptic associations were largely lost on the town’s elected leaders – a fact that councilman Monti Allison was quick to admit later that evening.

“What these stripes denote,” he declared, “I couldn’t answer without a cheat sheet.”

Allison and other members of the council had apparently voiced their objections to these test patterns even before the designs were formally presented to them on Tuesday. As a result, Jill Weston, Elon’s downtown development director, offered the council some additional options that evening which the town’s graphic designer had drawn up in the last minute to provide alternatives to the detested stripes.

Weston went on to urge the council to give some serious thought to these assorted proposals so that the town can replace its existing banner.

“We are down to one flag – the one that’s hanging outside right now,” she added, “and we’re bringing you these designs so you can make a decision before we order some more.”

Allison proceeded to endorse one of the newer designs that featured the town’s seal against a solid forest green background. Yet, his choice drew a protest from Elon’s mayor Emily Sharpe, who pointed out that the fields in this rendering of the town seal appeared white rather than “ecru” or “cream,” as the town’s rebranding scheme dictated.

“That design is actually not on brand,” she insisted. “There’s specific rules in what we’ve approved for what’s supposed to go where.”

Sharpe went on to suggest a variation of Allison’s preferred option that traded the white fields for a more brand-appropriate shade. Her recommendation was echoed by councilman Quinn Ray, who acknowledged that he’d be perfectly fine with either proposal.

“I’m not fighting that flag,” he conceded. “Anything is better than the red one outside.”
In the end, the council instructed Weston to obtain some additional mockups from the graphic designer that better reflected the consensus view.

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