Band Names and Logos
It seems like it shouldn't be that import but when you consider most of the successful brands, often the name of the product is second to the shape of the logo itself. A prime example is the golden arches. You see those two yellowish gold interlocking arches and you know instantly what that means. With the internet and success of instragram and emogis, we are increasingly becoming more visually triggered by symbols than words.
To use a local success story, when you see the tribal S, you know instantly that it's Slipknot. Just like if you are a Punk Rocker if you see the DK you know it's the Dead Kennedys or if you see the Skank Kid it's the Circle Jerks. Sometimes it isn't even an illustration or symbol but the font of the lettering like the Misfits.
Picking the Band Name
This is always a struggle. You want something that is creative and fits the image of the band but not one that has been used by a number of other bands over the years. Not only because of the issues with copyright but also when your fans seek out your music. My band the Have Nots has struggled with this to a degree. There are about 20 Have Nots out there but only one of them has had any real success, the one from Boston. The confusion happens when you try to find us on Streaming services because there is a number of Have Nots on there listed as one artist. This isn't the other Have Nots fault, it comes down to how the streaming services list the artists based on name only or outside "verified" sources or claim the artist name.
When it comes down to the legal side of band names, who was first to use it and who is the most successful. The only real time this will ever come up is if a band comes after you or you move on to a national market. The reality is that two regional small bands with the same name are not going to cause confusion or dilute the value of the brand. However, if there are two bands with the same name and one is a huge national touring act and the other is a regional band, there is a chance that this could cause confusion and affect the larger band's value in the market. In most cases, the larger band will contact you and ask that you cease and desist. If you, in fact, were first or have success in the market, you may ask for compensation to stop using the name or changing names. Most cases unless they can prove that you had knowledge of the other band using the name and intentionally profited from the uses of the name, you shouldn't end up being sued. For example, if you start a band called Guns and Roses or Rolling Stones, it would be hard to argue that you didn't know there was a successful band by that name.
So, this brings us to an ongoing trend, to avoid having the same name as another band, many bands will come up with names that have 5 or 6 words. This might be great at avoiding the issue above but it has its own problems. The first being will people remember the name in the first place. For example, People may remember The Postmen but they may not remember, The Postmen that Cross on the Right Side of History Delivered the Mail. Not only will you drive Promoters and Venues crazy as they try to add that name to posters but also putting it on the Marquee. Plus your fans are going to grow tired of saying your long name everytime they talk about your band. So, in the long end, everyone will shorten the name to The Postmen.
Another thing to consider is different spellings or the uses of symbols instead of letters. For example, with the Have Nots I should have used Have Nøts with the not symbol aka ø instead of o. Another approach is replacing like sounding letters and the best example would be Korn instead of Corn. Another option is some form of short hand like instead of Swimmers use SWMRS. Understand with these methods you are often relying on your fanbase to get it but it can make an impression.
It is also important to consider what is going to fit on posters, ads, handbills and marquees. A good rule of thumb is an even number of letters or numbers and it's best if it's under 10. The length of the name effects a lot of things including whether you will be listed on the marquee and what size your name will be on printed material. Also, it will affect your name being listed on event pages and elsewhere on social media. There is a limit on the number of characters that can be used in the title of most event pages and limits on posts. If you have a name that is 35 characters long, it just won't fit and will need to be shortened or simply not used. You should also consider this when you are creating social media pages. If someone is tagging you in a Twitter post or elsewhere there is a limitiation and your username is long, they may avoid it in favor of someone else because of lack of space.
Designing Band Logo
I know what you are thinking, "I'm a musician and not a visual artist." and that might be true but a logo can be very important to creating a brand image for the band. In some ways, it might be more important than the actual name of the band and remember how much time you spent coming up with that. Like any project having a logo that fans can easily recognize will increase response.
Now it doesn't have to be complicated or super artistic. It might be as simple as a block font that you use on every poster maybe with a mascotte or image that represents the band. The key is that it's clean and can be used in a lot of different formats including posters/handbills, social media pages, recorded releases, stickers, tattoos, patch, etc....
Pick a font that can be seen and read easily. I know that sounds like a given but you would be surprised how often I will not use a band logo because it is completely unreadable from a distance. I use the 10-foot rule in most cases. Meaning that from 10 feet it can be read and easily recognized This can be hard with bands that have long names, so when designing the layout consider the words that are most important in the band name and increase the size of them. For example, if your name is 'Blah Blah and the endless Blahed'. 'Blah Blah' should be larger font and 'and the endless Blahed' should be smaller. Seeing Blah Blah should trigger your fans to who is playing.
Avoid confusing fonts or overly busy fonts. Yes, I know that there are styles of music that part of their sub-culture is impossible to read fonts. However, when you have five of them on a poster, it really just looks like ink blocks or fancy border style designs. Even if you print and hand out thousands of handbills, if they can't read the name, they will not know the band.
At some point, you are going to be submitting to Promoters/Venues or using this logo in a number of different projects. Having the correct layout, file type and a large enough file size is important. I personally will avoid using a logo file for a number of reasons including it being low quality, not the correct background, or it doesn't fit the poster's theme.
Most posters that I design are 22x34 inches or 1584x2448 pixels. The reason is that you will get a much cleaner and sharper image when it is printed on a 11x17 poster. So when submitting logos or using a logo yourself for print, it is a good idea that the logo is at least 2000 wide and/or 2000 tall. The results will be much better if the file has to be scaled to something smaller.
With images that are being used online, anything beyond 1080 will unneeded. In fact, some social media platforms and websites will reject larger image files. With most websites these days the image will be resized to a set width or height maximum. I was going to list the most common sizes but Facebook, Google, and Twitter seem to change them on a regular base.
There are two common shapes that should work with most posters, printed material and online. The square and the rectangle. Two example would be the full name straight across in a rectangle and the name in two lines in the form of the square. I would suggest both not only for posters but for social media. Usually, there is a square for your main logo and then a rectangle for the cover or banner photo.
With printed material both have their advantages based on the style and content. The reality is that sometimes it simply comes down to how much space there is and what is going to make the most impact. Sometimes, one version fits and the other will not work.
File Type and Alpha Please
Any image file will usually work but the most common are jpg. Also, you can use a pdf but in most cases, it will need to be converted to png or jpg to be posted online. Also, I have had issues with pdf files not converting easily, not opening or opening completely messed up. Most printers will swear by pdf files but jpg can easily be used. The other issue with pdf files is that Adobe can be very restrictive about what you can do with the file outside of their own programs which cause a whole new set of headaches. JPG and PNG are a great deal more universally used(as in just about every image you view online) and can be opened easily regardless of the device or it's OS.
Alpha or clear background is important. If you are submitting a logo to be used on a poster or other printed material, a colored background will limit the ability of the designer to place the logo easily into the poster design. Having an alpha background just increases the likelihood that your logo will be used because it can be placed over different backgrounds and easily layered in the design. If it has a solid background it will limit where it can be placed because it might block area of the background. If you have a logo that's curved or has large negative space, it will take up a lot of room. Yes anyone that has the proper program can often easily convert the background to alpha but when you have outlined letters or shading of any kind, this can turn into a huge time-consuming mess. Remember that the image needs to be a pdf or png file. JPG will, in fact, fill in the background usually in white when it is saved.
A number of different color options are not a bad idea. However, for print, I would stick to the basics and have a white one and a black one. The reality is that they are to the two colors that will stick out the most on a poster. I tend to make posters with a light background and dark font or dark background with a light font. The contrast makes the font pop and more noticeable. Though it is easy to create a negative of just about any image, the outcome can be odd sometimes and not create the best results.
How Many Different Logos:
Well, that depends on a lot of things but I really suggest that if an artist outside of the band is designing it that you ask for at least the following:
- White single line rectangle with alpha background at least 2500 pixels long
- Black single line rectangle with alpha background at least 2500 pixels long
- Colored single line rectangle with alpha background at least 2500 pixels long
- White double line square with alpha background at maximum 2500x2500 pixels
- Black double line square with alpha background at maximum 2500x2500 pixels
- Colored double line square with alpha background at maximum 2500x2500 pixels
That should not only cover print needs but be easy to downsize for social media.