Changing of the flag
New Zealand’s flag-gate was an all too familiar scenario within the branding/design world. Although well-intentioned, the act of a public vote and democratic decision once again resulted in the safest route being taken. It was a missed opportunity for the country to push itself and claim a renewed sense of identity.
The way I saw it, was that the proposed silver fern provided much more relevance to modern New Zealand than the current Union Jack. The fern conjures up images of the country’s natural beauty as well as it’s recent sporting prowess, not to mention it’s inclusion of black, which is a colour that they are known the world over for owning. Meanwhile the Union Jack conjures up a small island on the other side of the world… Whilst I’m all for acknowledging the past, you’ve gotta pack your bags and fly the nest at some point…
I can’t help but feel that if both the current and proposed flags were seen with fresh eyes then the proposed would win hands down. This got me wondering then, why was this not the case? I concluded that it comes down to the simple fact that we are creatures of habit who dislike change. The current flag’s saving grace is it’s longevity and subsequent familiarity. If it’s been around this whole time, with no questions asked then surely it’s doing it’s job just fine right? This natural bias for the existing ended up giving the proposed flag a distinct handicap.
Scott Eidelman conducted a study in which participants were asked their opinion on acupuncture as a form of treatment. Those who were told that acupuncture had existed for a significantly long amount of time viewed it more favourably compared to those who were told that it had only existed in more recent times. The same study was replicated with thoughts on a painting. Again those who were told that the painting was old, judged it more positively than those who were told that it was more recent. It goes to show that despite what we may hear, sometimes age does indeed still matter.