There's nothing more patriotic than a row of bright American flags waving in the wind. It could be on a street of gorgeous old Brooklyn brownstones or a sweep of suburban ranches in the Midwest. That's the beauty of the flag -- wherever it goes, that's where America is.

Us flags

Or something like that.

The truth is that 94% of all the American flags imported in the country are manufactured in China, at least according to a 2012 report from
www.census.gov. While that stat makes for a delicious bit of irony, it would actually be unfair to say that the domestic flag industry is anything but thriving. Custom flag design, embroidery, full-scale banners -- you name it, there are plenty of United States businesses that are still making these products and services their specialty.

Custom flag design is a serious business, and customized flags decorate homes, street poles and other public spaces all over towns and cities. In fact, you likely passed at least a handful of custom flags on your commute today, but you might not have even noticed. If you spotted one with a particularly striking design, though, you can probably remember that particular image right now. That's because human beings are visual creatures, and studies show that 90% of our snap judgments are based on nothing except the colors we perceive in that moment.

Embroidered flags and vinyl banners are crucial in helping to determine a company's particular brand as well. Just as we rely on color when we're making on-the-spot decisions, 60% of our regular decisions are based on color, too, when we're figuring out whether or not we like a particular brand based on what its logo looks like. That's why Coca-Cola, McDonalds and other top corporate entities rely on the primary color palette (red, blue and yellow) for the entirety of their designs.

Flags and banners tend to be a different story entirely. While they're much more mobile than standard branding tools -- especially billboards and static ads -- they also allow for more character and creativity. After all, how many vinyl avenue banners have you seen coloring the snowy lamp points of a small town at Christmastime? Probably a lot, and they're probably all designed with yuletide swirls of red and green. That's one of the best ways custom flag design can be tailored to fit any occasion, whether it's holiday celebration or simple business promotion.

At the end of the day, it's all about making an impact. One of the best ways you can still do that with a physical object is through a high-quality flag or banner design -- but don't discount the influence of graphic design, either. It really has to be a harmony of both.

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