Flag Design Process

Dayton seeks a flag fit for the future

As Dayton continued its reinvention and renewal in the 21st century, local leaders began seeking a new flag in 2019 to represent a changing city and a community looking to the future. Under the leadership of Mayor Nan Whaley, an all volunteer steering committee of 20 individuals representing an array of public, private and civic organizations worked cooperatively with the City government to oversee the flag redesign process and to recommend a final design to the City Commission. This Committee was chaired by Commissioner Jeffrey J. Mims and Dayton Public Schools Board Member Jocelyn Rhynard.

Reasons to update the flag included improving feelings of connectivity, civic engagement and ownership of the city, as well as bringing the City flag in line with guidelines of the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA), which studies flags and their significance, including:

  • Keep it simple
  • Use meaningful symbolism
  • Use two or three basic colors
  • No lettering or seals
  • Be distinctive or be related

Thematic Elements to Include

After a Public Survey process, the Mayor’s Flag Redesign Committee came together to identify the major themes that collectively represent Dayton’s identity. In some fashion, the following four items were to be directly or indirectly represented in your flag design. Themes did NOT need to be literally represented on the flag-any symbolic representation should still follow the NAVA rules of good flag design. The application form required an explanation as to how each designer has symbolically represented these tenets:

  1. Flight: Innovation

    As the birthplace of aviation, flight is a critical part of Dayton’s history and identity with many regional schools, museums, public art pieces, non-profits, and regional partners that pay tribute to our history. But flight is about more than planes-Dayton has always been a place of invention, soaring to new innovative heights, aspiring for greatness. Striving higher, whether that is in the sky or not, is a critical part of the Dayton spirit.

  2. Gems: Grit and Resilience

    While the origin of the “Gem City” nickname for the City of Dayton is unknown, it rose to popularity with Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “Toast to Dayton”. In recent years, the Gem as served not just as a symbol for a shining city that is often a “diamond in the rough”, but also a city that is hard to break. After enduring a variety of challenges, Dayton has shone through with grit and tenacity harkening back to its apt nickname.

  3. Rivers

    The intricate waterways in the Dayton area served as a lifeline for local Native Americans and the eventual European settlers who called the Dayton area home. Since then, the rivers have continued to be a part of the Dayton story. The Dayton Flood of 1913 was both a major tragedy and turning point for a more unified and increasingly modernized city. These days, our waterways serve as a scene of beauty, recreation, and connectivity.

  4. Unity in Diversity

    The City of Dayton’s strength comes from its residents, who are from a variety of different backgrounds, countries, neighborhoods, and vocations. As a city focused on welcoming with a hearty Midwestern spirit, part of what makes us special is the diverse array of people that call Dayton home. After so many challenges, citizens have continued to come together and show that “Dayton takes care of Dayton”. By bringing the strength that comes from diverse people and backgrounds, the city is made better and more unified.


The Mayor’s Flag Redesign Committee encouraged the use of colors that are consistent with other imagery and logos frequently used in Dayton and the Greater Dayton area, which typically includes blue and green. For an example of these colors as they appear in Dayton and the surrounding region, please see the graphics below. Flag designs should be limited to using four colors at most (not all need to be used).

Please note, white may be included as an additional color, as well as an additional color of the designer’s choosing. This could be a different shade of blue or green, or a different color altogether. But flags with more than four colors were not considered moving forward.

Below is a sampling of logos used to find the “Dayton” color palette:

Logo Sampling Color Palette

Other requirements included: 

Flags designed in the standard US Flag 1:1:67 proportion. Submitted designs should be “1.5” X 2.5” in size. Acceptable file formats for image uploads are: jpg, gif, png, or pdf, max 2MB in size. 

Application form, including the narrative explanations, must be completed in its entirety to be considered. 

Each entry may only contain one design. Individuals may submit up to three separate entries. 

Submissions opened starting Oct. 1st, 2019 and ended Dec. 9th, 2019, and included the following criteria. 

  1. Include symbolic, visual, or design representation of the four city-wide themes as conveyed by the Flag Redesign Committee. (see below). 
  2. Utilize the Dayton color palette (blue and green).
  3. Adhere to the North American Vexillological Association’s Five Basic Principles of Flag Design (see below).

There were a total of 312 flag submissions, including 10% from Dayton Public School students, largely Cleveland Elementary. Out of those 312, members of the Mayor’s Flag Redesign Committee selected a final seven designs, and members of the City Commission narrowed down to a final three. Public input, quality of design, meaningful explanation of design and elements, and design adaptability were among the criteria that will be considered in selecting the final design.

Artist's Dayton flag design with blue airplane on light blue and green curved background

Artist's Dayton flag design with white gem in middle surrounded by blue and green triangles

The final three were announced February 26th, 2020, and were then released to the public for an open submission comment period. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was put on hold in March of 2020, though the public comment form was left open until August of 2021. Around 1500 responses were received throughout this 19 month period. After looking at this feedback, there was no clear consensus of a favorite design, so as outlined from the beginning of the process a graphic designer was brought in to help create a final design based on the final three designs and incorporated citizen feedback.

A design reflecting these three final designs as well as citizen feedback, was developed and approved by the Flag Redesign Committee, and was voted into the City of Dayton Code on December 15, 2021.