Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Colorado flag-wavers, stand by your brand! Vote for the next state symbol

When you Google "Colorado Flag" and see crocheted hats, beer-can coolers, tie-dyed T-shirts and incredible tattoos, all bearing the image of that golden sun and the big red C, you're at first impressed by Colorado's endless creativity. And then, when you search more and find Sons of the Confederate decals and insurance company cards using the symbol, you're a little depressed at Colorado's endless commercialism. And for a minute, you almost see why the committee working on a new icon for Colorado did not consider a variation on the flag. Almost.

The Colorado flag, which was adopted in 1911, is in the public domain, which means the public can use it any way it wants to -- making it tough for official Colorado projects to brand it as their own. But then you look at what the committee is considering instead....

At one point, Makingcolorado.com posted three of the designs under consideration, including a rectangle within a rectangle that was guaranteed to make rural Colorado cranky and the rest of the nation confused. A second idea put the letters "CO" under a bar. A third echoed the colors and concept of the beloved green-and-white Colorado license plate, but put them in a yield-like triangle.

Those options are no longer posted on the site, and a countdown clock indicates that the big reveal of the new icon is just eight days away. We have it on good authority that it won't be the black-hole rectangle or the stripped-down bar. Instead, it will be some variation on the green-and-white triangle. We were recently leaked these three versions of that concept, and have been told the final selection will be some evolution of that.

But does Colorado really want a commercially-unencumbered, green-and-white triangle -- or a compromised-but-colorful variation on a century-old flag? We're taking that question to voters this week; you can stand up for your brand on this poll.

You'll find out whether your vote made a difference when the new icon is revealed at next week's Colorado Innovation Network's summit. Find the summit schedule on the COIN website -- which, ironically, has a variation on the flag's C in the left-hand corner.

On that schedule, the "Global Unveiling of the Colorado Brand Identity" will be followed immediately by the "Glorious Failure" Innovation Prize.

Let's hope the new brand doesn't win that prize.

More from the Calhoun Wake-Up Call archive: "Nine new states that could secede from the state."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun