How do you tell someone about your music before they’ve even listened to track one? It’s all in the logo. For decades, band logo design has been somewhat of a secret weapon in the music industry. Inspiration for a band logo can come from practically anywhere, such as a sentimental backstory, an inside joke or in the case of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, a meaningless illustration which evolved into one of the most recognizable band logos of all time.
Sure, every band needs a phenomenal lead singer, a skilled bassist and guitarist and a badass drummer, of course—but an outstanding logo emphasizes a band’s staying power, and it can actually help it stay culturally relevant as decades progress. Think of The Who. With the exception of a surprise comeback in 2006, The Who were really only making music in the ’60s, ’70s and early ’80s. But their legendary songs are not the only part of the band that is still impactful today. Their bold target logo is an icon all on its own and one that is still quite recognizable.
Below, we’ve gathered our favorite band logo ideas, along with examples of how to capitalize on this shiny gem of a marketing tool.
First: the fundamentals of logo design
If you’re trying to break into band logo design without any experience, it can be intimidating. While music defines a band in character and style, the logo is its trusty spokesperson, and with that comes the responsibility to be striking and memorable. If all goes well, your logo will hang on bedroom walls, be printed across baggy T-shirts and ultimately spend a sizable amount of time in the limelight. To set you up for an overnight hit, we’ll give you a crash course in the basics before we dive into the details of creating a music-specific logo.
Logo design is a nuanced specialization of graphic design that speaks to aesthetics, branding and marketing, composition, color theory, typography and artistic skill. You can take a deeper dive into logo design in our How to design a logo guide, but meanwhile, let’s review the fundamentals.
Design for your brand. There’s not one “best type of logo”—the most successful logos are the ones that best represent their brand, and in this case, the band is the brand. The bold red typography of the Coca Cola logo suits the cola brand well, but those same design choices could hurt businesses that promote relaxation, like a yoga studio or massage parlor. Similarly, the sharp angles and arched shape of the Metallica logo works well for a band with such intense and dynamic music, but it would look ridiculous representing a more mellow and introspective artist like Coldplay.
So before anything else, you have to consider what kind of brand you want to be—your “brand identity.” Are you a soft brand or a tough brand? Are you avant-garde or more mainstream? These decisions will guide your design choices, especially the colors, shapes and letters.
Colors, shapes and letters. Each different color and shape represents different emotions—for example, logos with excessive black tend to seem more sophisticated, while logos with a lot of circles can seem casual. These associations with color and shape can also translate to the representation of different genres of music. In addition to colors and shapes, the font you choose can make a huge impact. Are you more of a formal serifs type or a casual sans-serifs type? Every design decision reflects on your band as a whole, so build your brand identity from the ground up with strategic choices.
What makes a good band logo?
When designing a logo for the music industry, it’s important to think about the many places where the logo could appear beyond the bass drum. It can theoretically appear anywhere, so the logo should be incredibly versatile and recognizable. Think about the outstanding iconography of The Rolling Stones’ red tongue logo. Not only does this logo work in a variety of settings, but it always catches the eye. The tongue logo makes a big statement while offering a memorable blend of cheeky personality and vivid color.
Since a band logo can be a companion piece for an artist’s entire career, it should age gracefully. With this in mind, avoid major cultural trends which may or may not be relevant in 10 years, such as the latest selection of Apple emojis as well as the current Pantone Color of the Year. A logo should not be a one-hit wonder. What feels meaningful to your band right now needs to also reflect the persona of your band in its future.
Amazing ideas for band logos
Now that we’ve reviewed the fundamentals of logo design, let’s get to the visuals. We’ve selected three effective styles for a logos that you’ll want to see (or hear) on repeat.
Vintage-inspired band logos
From indie rock to artsy folk, there are many musical genres which pair well with this theme. And while the script may be vintage in style, there’s something incredibly modern about these band logos. Curls and scrolls help visually guide the eye through each element of the logo, offering an aesthetically pleasing experience that feels balanced and refreshing.
Lighthearted and quirky band logos
Just because a band is serious about their music doesn’t mean that they have to take themselves too seriously in their logo. In fact, some of the most effective band logos exude an element of laid-back charm. Use this style to make your band feel distinct, different and ultra-relatable.
Edgy, modern and minimalist band logos
If the sound you’re going for is edgy, you need a modern logo that fits your music. Consider this style of band logo if you want your band to come across as cool and uber-current. This kind of logo can work for any music genre—think techno and electro, hip hop, hard rock and lounge—as long as your vibe is edgy and cool.
New retro band logos
Even if the music is modern, there’s something ever-appealing about a retro-infused logo. Retro doesn’t have to mean a ’50s sock hop. Instead, it can be any personality that you’d like to channel through throwback fonts and classic colors. This style works particularly well for a band which draws inspiration from older genres of music, like jazz and funk.
How to get a logo
As we explained in our article on Comparing the best ways to get a logo designed, there are four main options for getting a logo.
- Logo maker (DIY). Making a band logo from scratch is simple with the help of a logo maker or other entry-level design software.
- Hire a design agency. Design agencies have the specialists who can help you create the band logo of your dreams, but the extra talent comes at an extra cost.
- Work with a freelancer. Going straight to a freelancer gives you the benefit of working with a professional at a lower cost than an agency, but it also involves new challenges like finding a freelancer who’s the perfect fit for your band’s style.
- Commission a design contest. This is an all-around win that combines the strengths of the other options. First, you explain what you want in a contest briefing, including visual preferences, overall goals and samples of your music. Professional designers from all over the world can submit concepts based on your briefing. From there, you simply pick your favorite and start revisions. You only pay for the one logo you choose. Huge perk: you’ll have the advantage of seeing results before you buy.
Keep this in mind: Your logo is an asset that’s too important to skimp on, and considering how complicated logo design is, if it’s not designed by a professional, it may not be as effective as it could be—something to consider when weighing the pros and cons of a DIY logo maker.
From there, you’re faced with a decision of both cost and preference. If your only concern is price, check out our Logo design cost guide for more details.
Agencies have more manpower, so you’d have more specialists working for you, but you’re also paying for them whether you need them or not. This is a very high-quality but pricey choice that’s a good fit for large-scale projects like an entire brand design, but likely not the greatest match for an up-and-coming musician.
The happy medium is either working directly with a freelance designer or running a design contest. Contests embrace the creativity of multiple designers, giving them the opportunity to contribute different ideas of logos designs you can choose from for your band. If you’re still unsure what style and look is right for your band, a contest has the benefit of experimentation—you may not know what logo design best suits you until you see some creative drafts from several experts.
If you already know what style and look you’re going for, your best bet is going to be working directly with a freelancer. You can browse designer portfolios to find the perfect match in terms of style, then work with the designer to get the type of band logo that you’re looking for.
Are you ready to get a chart-topping band logo?
Your band logo is your group’s own little elevator pitch. This is your chance to instantly tell fans, followers and new listeners who you are and what you’re about. If things go according to plan, the logo will become just as popular as the music itself. Take the time and effort to think it through, then find yourself a band logo that’s worthy of extended airtime.