Build your brand identity with the right band name

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Your band name has a lot to say about your act and your brand, so getting it right from the start is one key to success.

Finding the right band name

In marketing, branding refers to presenting clear, unique, relevant, believable, and consistent messages about who you are while leaving a lasting positive image in their minds. Everything you do affects the way fans perceive you – from the identity you put forth in your musical style, to your personality and look and your online and social persona.

If you are on the brink of starting a new band – or re-inventing a current project – naming your band is an important consideration in the endeavor of building your brand. If you’re just forming your new act, it’s not too early to recognize that your name is what will typically be stamped on all of your products and services (like records, T-shirts, and patches) as well as your websites, business cards, bass drum heads, and cases.

Your band name, in part, is how people will come to recognize, request, and discuss you among friends, and it is what will trigger a series of emotions, memories, and associations stored in fans’ minds whenever they hear or see it.

A great name alone won’t make or break a band, but a bad one can doom you from the start. What follows are ten useful tips – from reflecting on the right mood and imagery, to creating a name that’s easy to spell.

  1. Reflect the right mood and imagery

    Your band name should reflect the mood and imagery that fits with your vision and suggests the types of products and services the intended audience should expect. This will help fans to immediately visualize what you are all about. Kaskade was chosen to represent the popular American DJ/producer Ryan Raddon, after he saw a picture of a waterfall, which fit perfectly with the continuous flowing sounds and powerful textures he creates when performing at raves around the world.

  2. Make your name hip, simple, memorable, and unique

    If you’re compelled to use your personal name, consider making it more hip, simple, memorable, or unique if needed. Will.I.Am of the hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas was born William James Adams, Jr., but he used only his first name, separated into three words, as a more hip and creative alternative for the stage.

  3. Tell what your company (or band/act) does

    Another method for choosing a name is to say precisely what your company does. While it doesn’t say much about the style of music, Dave Mathews Band is a name that implies that there is one leader, but that we can also expect – with some flexibility – the same group or band of musicians working on every recording and performance. The late Ian Copeland named his talent agency Frontier Booking International, because obviously it was an agency, he saw it as breaking new ground, and he liked the acronym FBI.

  4. Create a name that’s adaptable

    Your name should be short enough (or sound cool when turned into an acronym) to fit on merchandise including T-shirts, hats, and stickers). Trent Reznor of the band Nine Inch Nails denies any deep meaning to the name other than that he wanted one that fit and looked cool as an abbreviation on his merchandising.

  5. Be sure it’s easy to read and pronounce

    Remember what a name is intended to do – make you memorable and recognizable. A name with an overly strange spelling that no one can read may be defeating the purpose.

  6. Choose a name that’s legally available

    Avoid using common names that are likely being used. Be sure to search the web and the US Patent and Trademark Office website to see if your chosen name is already in use. More established companies often hire search companies like Thomson Compumark to conduct a more thorough search, but this can get very expensive.

  7. Find out if it is an available domain name

    Domain registration is the process of reserving your band name as a “virtual address” like Yourbandname.com. If someone is already using that domain name, you may be out of luck. Check for availability by using a service like GoDaddy or Network Solutions.

  8. Create a name that everyone can easily spell

    While creating your own unique spelling for your company’s name could be cool and even make it more memorable (such as Korn spelled with a “K”), be careful not to make it too weird. Though the band Lynyrd Skynyrd has been hugely successful for decades, I literally couldn’t find it on the web when researching this article because I couldn’t spell their name correctly. (I’m serious!)

  9. Invent a name

    To create something truly unique, you can always invent your own name. Metallica’s name was invented by drummer Lars Ulrich when thinking of names for a friend’s metal magazine. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ name was invented by adjusting the name of the city in which the band was formed (i.e., from Boston to Bosstone) while saying something about their ska sound (which encompasses horns).

  10. Reflect on your target fan

    Last but not least, another method that can be helpful in naming your band is to understand your target audience and reflect on their psychographic characteristics (i.e., their activities, interests, and opinions). Alt-rockers Green Day named themselves after a slang phrase used by San Francisco kids for smoking pot all day. The name was intended to connect with the rebellious, free-caring attitude of punk rockers.

Image via ShutterStock.com.

Bobby Borg talks music sales promotionsA renowned drummer, teacher, consultant, and Disc Makers contributor, Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician: Creating and Executing a Plan of Attack On A Limited Budget (September 2014, Hal Leonard). The book is available on the Hal Leonard website, Amazon.com, or at BobbyBorg.com.

The contents of this post are © 2014 by Bobby Borg BobbyBorg.com. All rights reserved. Not to be posted, printed, or used in any other way without proper attribution to Bobby Borg and Disc Makers.

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