Anyone with ties to Lincoln has the chance to see their flag wave from flagpoles and maybe even used as a branding image — all thanks to a summer contest to redesign the Nebraska capital’s flag.

The Lincoln American Marketing Association Chapter and Lincoln Young Professionals Group are hosting a contest through Aug. 1 that will allow anyone with connections to Lincoln to submit a design for a new city flag. Three designs will be chosen by a committee of eight Lincolnites by Aug. 21, and each chosen design will receive $1,000. The final flag design will be voted on by residents of Lincoln and is planned to be presented to the Lincoln City Council for its approval on Oct. 4.

Lincoln has had the same flag since 1932, and it is a blue flag that features the well-known state capitol building in front of what looks like a blue flower, which resembles a firefighter symbol, atop a red circle adorned with the words “City of Lincoln.” At the bottom of the state capitol building sit two ears of corn on either side of a sheaf of wheat. 

Popular city and state flags throughout North America usually follow the North American Vexillological Association’s five basic principles of flag design. These rules state a good flag should: have a simple design, use meaningful symbols, feature two to three basic colors, adorn no lettering or seals and be distinctive. 

Right now, the Lincoln flag breaks most of these rules, according to Kayla Meyer, the Lincoln Young Professionals Group coordinator at the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce. 

“We're changing the flag because the flag doesn't represent who we are anymore,” Meyer said. “If you look at the flag, the Lincoln flag, it's not going to stand out and say, ‘Wow, that represents our city,’ in any way.” 

The AMA and Lincoln Young Professionals Group got the idea to host a contest to design a new flag from a speech given by Keil Wilson at Ignite Lincoln in 2019, Meyer said. Wilson explained why changing the flag can help the city and publicize the knowledge of the city. 

“Chicago’s flag is flown everywhere in Chicago, and it’s an example — it’s a great example — of how, you know, a city flag can unite its citizens. It’s a brand,” Wilson said in the speech.

If the flag were to follow the vexillology principles, Lincoln’s flag would be more recognized, Meyer said. Therefore, the redesign contest is an opportunity to rebrand Lincoln and bring people together to discuss what Lincoln means. 

“Personally, I think it represents our state more than it does who we are as a city,” Meyer said. “We are a vibrant growing piece of the state, but we're not represented in that flag.”

The official AMA rules state a digital design entry should be a drawing, JPG, PDF or Vector image able to fit a 3 inch by 5 inch ratio and must follow the five basic principles of flag design. Only one entry may be submitted per person and must be accompanied by an official application. The design must also not involve elements included on the old flag.

Anyone interested in submitting artwork for the design will be able to until Aug. 1. The final three designs will be announced on Aug. 21, according to Meyer. Anyone wanting to vote on the flag designs can follow AMA’s social media or find booths set up at local events, such as the Farmer’s Market in the Haymarket, Meyer said. 

“We're really excited about this,” Meyer said. “We think it's gonna be really awesome for our city. We've gone through a really hard time as a city, and I think this is a great way to really pull us together to get behind something that isn't necessarily ... political or have polarizing sides. This is just us getting together.”