If there’s one man in Scotland who knows the difference between a great and a bad flag, it’s Philip Tibbetts.
As the Honorary Vexillologist at the Lyon Court since 2018, he holds the world’s first official flag-specific role.
In recent years, he has helped out with more than 60 UK flag registrations, including Caithness, Sutherland and Skye.
And now the expert is one of the driving forces behind the campaign to get an Aberdeenshire flag too.
Aberdeenshire flag competition launches
Today, The P&J is launching a contest to find an official flag that will represent Aberdeenshire into the future.
We’re looking for a design that is simple, effective and pays tribute to the region’s heritage.
If it is good enough to be embraced by the public, it could end up on bumper stickers and football shirts as well as flagpoles.
Philip, whose passion for flags started when he was a graphic designer in Aberdeen, said: “The north-east has that Doric identity and Doric language.
“So it wouldn’t surprise me if this flag becomes a sort of shorthand for Doric.
“Maybe in the future, you’ll see language options on the internet with the Scottish flag for Scots, and the Aberdeenshire flag for Doric.”
The expert added: “I can see it flying at castles and the other big tourist sites in Aberdeenshire.”
He is travelling across the region to visit schools and encourage local pupils to think about what they would put on their flag.
Expert Tibbetts’ top tips for a great flag
As someone who examines flags on a daily basis, Philip might be the best person in Scotland to provide advice on what makes a good design.
So here are some of his expert tips – and some examples for inspiration.
Keep it simple
Don’t overcomplicate things: the best flags are simple enough that a child could draw them from memory.
Try to stick with two or three colours, and avoid using lettering or seals.
These can be hard to make out from a distance, and unreadable on the reverse side of the flag.
A great way to make people think of Aberdeenshire specifically is to use symbolism to represent local heritage or landmarks.
The new Skye flag, designed by nine-year-old Calum Munro, features a five-oared birlinn boat, while the Lebanese flag has a green cedar tree.
You don’t want your Aberdeenshire flag to look too similar to any others, or you risk it being misidentified.
The flags of Poland, Indonesia and Monaco all feature one red stripe and one white stripe, so are easily confused.
Flag needs to ‘connect people’s hearts’
Beyond the technical details, Philip knows the expert secret to an enduring Aberdeenshire flag would be one that locals can feel represented by.
He said: “Flags and heraldry, despite having incredibly old origins, are still very relevant and very powerful today.
“Part of the reason for that is because of the way they use symbolism.
“You might have the best bit of graphics in the world, but if people’s hearts aren’t connected to it, it won’t be a particularly effective flag.”