It’s currently big news across Europe that Canada greeted the Belgian royal couple with a German flag.
King Philippe of Belgium and Queen Mathilde were just about to stroll the grounds of Rideau Hall when a Belgian journalist noted that a groundskeeper had decorated a tree with the entwined flags of Canada and Germany.
Oeps, foutje. Canadezen signaleren boom die koningin Fabiola in 1977 heeft geplant in Ottawa tijdens eerste Belgisch staatsbezoek met Duits(!) vlagje. Nadat Belgische media hen daar attent op maken, grijpen ze in. #BelCan2018 pic.twitter.com/pSPIqZMzaJ
— [Wim Dehandschutter] (@WDehandschutter) March 12, 2018
It’s a regrettable mistake, to be sure. But here’s a helpful suggestion from your Canadian friends, Belgium: How about getting a less confusing flag?
Perhaps all your European Union neighbours are too polite to bring it up, but your national banner is basically a sideways German flag. Here they are side by side:
Belgium on the left, Germany on the right.
The colour order may be different, and we can argue all day about how you picked your flag first and it’s really the Germans who ripped you off. Oreo was originally a ripoff of Hydrox, but nobody remembers that now, do they?
The cold fact remains: When most people see the colours black, red and gold they think “bratwurst and Rammstein,” not “Duvel and Jean-Claude Van Damme.”
We sympathize; we are similarly a weird, bilingual country who struggles to get recognition abroad. It’s frankly a miracle when the U.S. president can remember our prime minister’s name.
This is why, when it came time to pick a national flag, we knew for damned sure we had to pick something distinct and creative. Imagine if, rather than our instantly recognizable maple leaf, Canada had opted for something like this:
That’s essentially what you did, right? You took the flag of a neighbouring country (France) and just tweaked it a bit?
Would it be reasonable for us to expect that sports officials, diplomatic representatives and NATO allies would all consistently be able to tell that kind of flag apart from the U.S. Stars and Stripes?
In fact, we used to have that precise problem. Our original flag, the Red Ensign, was originally a forgettable entry in a sea of Commonwealth banners. So we hired designers, formed committees and picked something with a bit more pizzazz.
On the left, the flag of Bermuda. On the right, the pre-maple leaf flag of Canada. Confusing, right?
It’s called branding, …read more