How to create the ultimate band logo

What makes a good band logo? Is it an image that’s instantly eye catching? Is it the complexity and skill it took to create? Or does it boil down to how effective it is at representing and advertising the band?

Although there are expertly constructed band logos out there, designed by professional illustrators and graphic artists, some of the most iconic and recognisable logos are the ones that are simple and to the point.

In coming up with a logo for your band, you need to consider how you want to come across and what you want your image to say about you. Anything visual that you put out there is an extension of your band’s identity. For example, it might not be the best idea to develop a black metal typeface for group that sounds like Maroon 5 (unless the tongue is firmly in cheek).

To get started, I always have a concept in mind, something that is at the heart of the band that serves as a catalyst for the design. For example, I was hired to design some T-shirts for Rabea Massad, premier shredder. I chatted with him about themes close to his heart as well as listening to his music.

He has a deep love of Japan and Japanese culture, so I started with the idea of having his name in Japanese. He is also born in the year of the dragon, so I created my own version of this iconic creature incorporating the traditional style with a modern twist.

Although these two designs are very different, one simple and monochromatic, the other colourful and detailed, both illustrate how looking deeply into your subject can inspire your ideas. You can see how they turned out here.

Classic Logos

Let’s now look at some examples of great band logos that have stood the test of time.

Take the Rolling Stones ‘Hot Lips’ image, probably one of the most famous music logos ever.

Designed in 1969 by art student John Pasche, the idea was to create something that conjured up the spirit of the Hindu Goddess Kali, but the artist found more inspiration in the mouth and charisma of band leader Mick Jagger.

It’s a symbol that represents the band without even needing their name to accompany it.

Now, of course it helps that the Stones are pretty much the most famous band on the planet, if you came up with a picture of a banana to represent your band that you started last night in your Dad’s garage, and you didn’t put your band name with it, it would be a little foolish. But the Stones would have had their name with the lips to begin with and due to their success and the power of the imagery, it has been forever inked onto the arm of music history.

Another of my favourite logos is that of 80s hardcore punk band Black Flag.  It is super simple, four black bars in between the text designed to represent the abstract movement of a flag, as well as the four members of the band. It was created by Raymond Pettibon, brother of the band’s founding member and guitarist Greg Ginn. Pettibon was not an artist, he just drew a simple image for his brother that had meaning and understanding of the band and their music. It is a powerful image and it helped put the band on the map. It went on to be copied, parodied and homaged in popular culture from then on.

So, where do you start?

Here are 5 tips when creating your own band logo:

Imagery

Think about imagery and logos you like. They don’t have to be music related at all, just something that speaks to you, or catches your eye. Compile these images onto a mood board so you can get an overview of the kind of aesthetic you are going for. Your personality should be looking back at you from the page.

PINTEREST is good for this.

Fonts

Look at fonts you like from bands you are inspired by as well as other sources like brands and film posters. A good resource for visualizing typefaces is Google Fonts. You just type in the name of your band and you will be able to flick through different fonts you think might work and see them in real time.

Keep it simple

Don’t overcomplicate it. Your logo will hopefully be displayed 30 feet high behind you on the Pyramid stage, but it should also work on a small scale, like on a phone. Keep this in mind when creating.

The software

Once you have decided on your image and/or font, experiment with design software. I use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, but these can be pricey so here are some free online alternatives:

Feedback

Finalise with a designer. If you have reached as far as your art skills will allow, you can seek out an Illustrator or Graphic Designer to put the finishing touches to your logo. You have already done most of the hard graft yourself so that should save you some money.

Don’t be daunted by the task of getting your logo perfect on first go. It doesn’t have to be set in stone. Your logo can evolve with your music and reflect the band at each stage of your career. If you take my band for example, you can see how our logo has subtle differences on each album we’ve released, but the bones of the idea remain throughout.

By Tom Heron

Tom plays drums in The Xcerts. They have performed in notable UK and European venues such as Wembley Arena, Manchester Arena, Brixton Academy, The Royal Albert Hall and AFAS Live in Amsterdam. In 2018 The Xcerts opened the main stage at Reading and Leeds festival. Tom has toured with bands such as Biffy Clyro, Nothing But Thieves, Manchester Orchestra, Twin Atlantic, Busted, Idlewild and Taking Back Sunday. The bands most recent record ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ charted in the UK top 40 and their single ‘Feels Like Falling In Love’ was made ‘Rockest Record’ by Dan Carter on BBC Radio 1. Tom is also an illustrator and works as a designer at Waterbear.
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