This is one that seems like it should be obvious but which never gets the respect or attention it deserves, band names and logos. As much as we might not want to admit it a band name or logo can make or break a band. There are of course exceptions to this rule, bands with either absurd terrible names who have found success or groups whose logos are utterly ridiculous that also find there way to acclaim, but you can’t bank on it. As with everything in marketing your band, many of these things don’t actively work against you, but they do help you and in a world where there is a truly absurd glut of bands out there then you need to take advantage of every little opportunity that you can find. I know that sounds hard and demands a lot of you, but if you are able to find a good name and logo you are going to end up going a lot further.
So what makes a good name? There’s obviously a few keys that make it especially relevant but here is what I have found over the years. First and foremost, having a “Blanking the Blank” name is oftentimes surprisingly effective. Other techniques that make for a good band name include alliteration or conjuring up an image. On of my favorite band names on the underground right now is Forming The Void. You can see a pit of blackness being conjured up in their incredibly heavy tone. Another band with a great name is Runescarred. Again – the name conjures up a certain image that you have to admire. What doesn’t often work is naming your band after a key member unless that key member is well known. Even then, it frequently can look self centered. I’m not saying avoid it entirely, it certainly has been done in a justifiable way, but y’know, keep an eye out.
The other big key with band names is to make sure that they are appropriately short that they can remain memorable. If your band name is going over five syllables you might want to re-evaluate. I don’t think there ar that many bands from history who have gotten big with names that were over five syllables. It seems that in many cases the fewer syllables the better. While there are far too many counter examples to make a point of this I just want to emphasize that notion when it comes to memorability. Also trying to make sure that your name fits the aesthetic of the music you are playing is going to be key. If you are a death metal band and you are called Show Me The Body people know what they are going to get. If you’re a pop act, maybe don’t name yourself after a serial killer. These are basic rules I know, but sometimes people forget.
Now logos can perhaps be even trickier. I would point out that it is important to have professional who does logos in your genre do the logo. Nine times out of ten this is going to lead to a better result than having your girlfriend who dabbles in graphic design do it. It will ensure that you fit a certain aesthetic and the visual lexicon needed in order for people in your genre to come to what you are doing without feeling alienated. This is especially key when trying to build up a brand from the ground up. Peoples first impression of you is often from seeing your band logo on a flyer. If they see your logo and don’t ‘get it’ then they are probably not going to want to check you out, and if they don’t check you out then you’re fucked. Try and ensure that your logo is the sort of thing that people involved in your genre are going to be legitimately interested in when they discover what you have to offer and where it comes from.
The other thing to realize is that in many ways your logo can represent your bands ceiling. This is a tricky one that I don’t think a lot of people have necessarily been able to wrap their minds around. But look at examples through history. Baroness for example started off with a pretty typical sludge metal logo. As they morphed into being a rock band they switched it out for something much cleaner and more elegant. Simultaneously if you start off with a sick logo people often connect right away. Mothership for example have a great logo (And a great name!) and it looks very clean and classic. It separates them from many of their peers. They aren’t afraid to put out shirts and whatnot that use different takes on their logo perhaps better fitting with the stoner rock aesthetic, but their logo suggests that they were born to be classic rock and rollers and people love them for it.
So be careful when you name your band and determine a logo. The way that you shape your lexicon is going to have a lot to do with how people are going to perceive you. Remember that first impressions are everything and you want to start with your best foot forward. If your band name suggests that you are generic or worse uncreative people won’t listen. If your logo is incomprehensible or out of place you will become a joke. That’s just how it is. Try to keep your head up and think these things through. If you do and you consider the brand from top to bottom then you are rapidly going to find a lot of long term success.