Flags are a common construct and you might find your usability go down if you try to do something different and therefore unrecognizable. This could be very cool to test, though! If you really don't want a flag, a globe is a reasonable option with the current language beside it and a clear drop down arrow or some other visual affordance that indicates to users that they can change the language.
I highly, highly recommend keeping the language switcher at the top of the page, because it is where users expect to find it. And for good localization practice, always remember to use the language name in the language itself! "Deutsch" instead of "German." :)
http://www.apple.com/lu/ Bottom of page. Flag in a circle ;) This was hard to find though, so keep top of page in mind.
http://america.aljazeera.com No flag, but at the top and a drop down caret