My Thoughts On The New Oklahoma License Plate

Matcha Design - Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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Recently, the State of Oklahoma has revealed the new license plate. Typically, it would be welcoming like a breath of fresh air but this new design has caused a lot of negative comments from the social media. People seems to be confused about the design and not sure about what to make of it.

By chance, I have been interviewed by a local TV station on this matter today. Due to the time constraint, the segment has trimmed out a lot of my responses. So please allow me to share more my thoughts on the new Oklahoma license plate design here.

I am not a native Oklahoman but I have made Tulsa home since the late 90’s and grown to understand more about Oklahoma, its unique native American history and how today’s culture is shaped by the past. However, let’s just focus back on the design of the license plate itself. As a first glance, I saw “maybe” a bird in the background over a baby blue wash. The contrast is so low that I can hardly recognize it. Then I discovered that the bird is actually called “Scissor-tailed flycatcher”, the state bird of Oklahoma. It’s printed on our state quarter as well. Perhaps the representation of the subject matter in the design may not be ideal so the audience is having a hard time grasping the concept.

A good design needs to strike a good balance of aesthetic and deliver the messaging clearly and accurately. When designing a license plate, it’s important to have a sharp & clean design, using highly recognizable imagery the public would understand or intrigue by. It’s not about people who is not willing to change, it’s about a change that makes sense.

I would use high impact color to create better contrast, think of how simple the license plate of Colorado and yet how impactful it can be by just using high contrasting color. I also suggest picking a different symbol to represent the state, such as the feather from the seal of Oklahoma, the spearhead. If the bird must be used, then let it fly and show its beauty then cropping its wings and cover its tail while putting it over a light baby blue background. Another problem that I like to point out is the typography choice on the license number. I found the letter “B” and the number “8” can look quite similar and it can be easily mistaken. Many fonts have a distinct curvature on the letter “B”, why not give it a try?

A license plate is like a mini moving billboard, it is not only a good platform to advertise Oklahoma, it’s also the symbol of the pride. It’s time to make it sharp and inviting.

What is your take on the new license plate design?

About Chris Lo
Chris is the president of Matcha Design, a design firm located in Tulsa Oklahoma. He has decades of professional design experience and has won numerous awards. His works have been featured in various design publications. He also serves as a panel judge for a number of renowned international competitions.

About Matcha Design
Matcha Design is a full-service creative agency specializing in web designprintidentitybrandinginterface designvideo productionstill photography and motion design. Using our passion for excellence, multi-cultural background, and award winning practices, we consistently provide high-quality, custom, innovative solutions to meet the diverse marketing needs of our clients. For more information, visit